Serving the needs of Americas millions of micro-merchants and mom-and-pop shops is one of those business plans that always sounds much easier in theory than it turns out to be in practice. The simple reason? Diversity. Other than being small, they’re a rather diffused group in terms of who they serve, what they sell, their scale of operation and a host of other factors that make it complex to find a common thread to serve.

Complex, but not impossible, Faire Chief Technology Officer and Co-founder Marcelo Cortes told Karen Webster in a recent conversation. It really comes down to starting in the right place, which usually means starting small. It is a lesson Cortes learned at his previous job as engineering lead for Square Cash. Today, he noted, Square has built a powerful commerce ecosystem around a robust platform of small business (SMB) services, but that is far from where it started. The opening ambition was smaller and highly targeted.

Square “didn’t go in trying to change a big part of the market. They took a small target: These small business[es] had a need to be able to accept a credit card, but either couldn’t get access or it was very expensive [to] access. So, Square didn’t start at a big change; it started with that small, universal problem for SMBs,” Cortes said.

The rest, as they say, is history — in Square’s case. However, when Cortes left Square to start Faire, a B2B marketplace meant to match small merchants and mom-and-pop shops with small makers and manufacturers, it was a lesson he took to heart. Faire, in many ways, is leaving the core of the experience intact, he noted. Buyers aren’t paying more for the goods than they would have otherwise, and sellers are still making the direct connections to the mom-and-pop shops that are the lifeblood of their organizations.

What the marketplace is designed to do, he said, isn’t so much disrupt that relationship, but improve and streamline it for both sides — and add value that simply wasn’t there before.

Read more about how Mom and Pops can survive retails apocalypse on the website HERE

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