Dawdle had two inspirations: a terrible experience and a little company in Brooklyn called Etsy. While lots of people who read this blog know the frustration of eBay and GameSpot and all that, not as many people know about Etsy and what makes it so awesome.
Etsy was founded by Rob Kalin (another NYU '02 grad - woo) and is the world's best marketplace for people to buy and sell things that are handmade. You'll often see lots of links to Etsy for papercrafts, scarves, perler beads, and other crafts relating to gaming on all the major blogs. Etsy has been out there to provide a better way for craftswomen and craftsmen to make a living doing what they love. They have beautiful and interesting ways to browse the store - by color is my favorite. But it was just because the gals and guys thought that there had to be a better way. They didn't care about a business plan or anything, they just went with their gut and what felt right.
In June 2007, while on a trip to New York, I randomly dropped by the Etsy offices. I didn't call ahead or anything, just decided to drop on by. Mary from Etsy was so awesome - she took me on a tour of the place, showed me Etsy Labs, where people can come by and make things to sell on the site. I know I looked like a moron, my mouth was wide open in the kind of goofy grin you have when you fall in love for the first time. It was magical. It felt real, that someone could go out and decide that this was what they wanted to do, and with a little inspiration and a lot of hard work, that it could be done. You could go and build a little something for yourself, and for other people, and do it while being good and honest and open and by listening, not commanding.
Dawdle's kind of the anti-Etsy. We're a database-driven site that is made for people to get in, get what they want, get out, and get on with gaming. Etsy is for dawdlers - those who want to browse, look around, exult in their surroundings. I don't think Dawdle could ever work for perler bead coasters of Zelda characters (I have some on my fridge). But Dawdle would not exist if it were not for Etsy. Rob's inspiration, the team's success, and Mary's kindness made me realize that, yes, it can be done, and yes, it can be done the right way.
I'm so happy for them that they were able to raise a huge $27 million round from one of the very best VCs in the business. They deserve every success that they have had, and I just want to stand up and applaud. Kudos, guys and gals. You've already changed the world - now the world knows.
Image Source: Joi on Flickr