Scott Curry is the CEO and founder of Scott’s Marketplace, a company dedicated to bringing local businesses to the forefront of online shopping. Wanting to encourage shoppers and sellers to stay local, he founded an online marketplace that quickly evolved into a community of small businesses.
The beginning of Scott’s Marketplace
What inspired you to start your business? When?
I come from a family of entrepreneurs and small business owners. My parents owned a retail shop — Curry’s Clothier in Wyoming in the 1980s. My grandparents, my uncles and other family members also own their own businesses, so I kind of always knew that was the path for me.
My passion for local and independent commerce has roots there, too.
However, the direct inspiration for Scott’s Marketplace came from a professional experience in my adult life at the start of my entrepreneurial journey.
It started in 2008 when I found myself (a real estate broker at the time) looking for a way to grow my business online. At the time, creating my own website was out of the question and hiring someone to build a website for me was costly. That experience got me thinking about other small, local, product-based business owners across the United States. I felt if I was having this challenge with my real estate business, then local shops across the United States were probably having the same challenge, too. It was from there that the idea for Scott’s Marketplace was formed.
What first steps did you take to launch the business?
It was around 2012 that I decided to bring my idea for Scott’s Marketplace to life. To do this, I hired a few developers and marketers. We launched the first version of ScottsMarkeplace.com in April of 2014.
What obstacles did you face as a startup, and how did you overcome them?
As a startup, we faced many challenges. One of the first for us was getting the word out to local businesses that Scott’s Marketplace was an option for them. We started with grassroots marketing efforts in the Phoenix, Ariz. area, since that’s where the company has roots.
We got involved with the local community. We even hosted a cash mob for a struggling local bookstore to help support local commerce and build awareness for our brand.
Once we had established a solid foundation in Arizona with a few hundred stores, we utilized digital-marketing tools, including advertising, email marketing and social-media giveaways, to grow our brand nationwide. We now have more than 7,000 active stores on the site with more than 125,000 products for sale from local shops across all 50 states (and growing!).
How did you identify your niche in the market?
Scott’s Marketplace is a platform for small, local, product-based businesses. We’re not for franchisees, chain stores or multilevel marketing ventures — rather, our platform is a place for the mom-and-pop, brick-and-mortar store owner you see on Main Street in your community and home and hobby-based businesses, too. The local businesses that are struggling to compete online are the kind of stores you’ll find on Scott’s Marketplace.
Tell us about your business model.
Our model is to empower local shop owners to compete online and to enable consumers to shop local businesses nationwide.
Goals and philosophy
What are the goals for your business?
Our goal is to change local commerce. We strive to be the leading online local business marketplace in the world.
What’s your guiding business philosophy?
Transparency. When you are transparent, you are honest in your business decisions — not only with your external customers, but with your team, too. That’s the most important element to me.
What three words epitomize success in your book?
Thoughtfulness. By being thoughtful, you are both deliberate and considerate of the pros and cons of any given decision.
Execution. When you execute a product that your customers want and need, success will follow.
Listening. As an entrepreneur, you have to listen to your team, to your customers, to your advisors, to your investors and other stakeholders because you don’t have all the answers. You have to process all that information in order to lead the organization.
What strengths do you bring to the table as an entrepreneur?
Vision. Passion. Determination.
The vision of what we can ultimately create at Scott’s Marketplace. The passion to see it through every day. And the determination to keep going and build something of great significance.
There are successes and victories every day. There are also challenges and obstacles each day. Having the passion and determination to overcome those challenges and to celebrate the successes allows the vision to keep moving forward.
Where do you see your business in five years? Ten years?
If there is one thing I’ve learned as an entrepreneur, you have to focus on building the product for today and the future will take care of itself as your business evolves. You carve your path through execution, listening and determination. Those daily actions keep the business progressing.
Product and tools
What online tools do you use for your business?
In October 2016, our workforce transitioned to a fully remote operation with the help of some key collaboration tools. Online tools including Sococo, Slack, the Google G Suite and Amazon Web Services have had a tremendous positive impact on our day-to-day business.
How do you use each of these tools and why is each important?
Sococo functions as our virtual office space. This technology allows us to meet with team members face-to-face no matter where in the country or world they might be at any given moment. We have access to video calling and screen sharing via this web-based interface.
Slack’s messaging tool is a great complement to the Sococo environment. The real-time chat interface Slack provides keeps our team connected to each other for quick, ongoing dialogue.
The Google G Suite allows the team full access to Google Docs, Google Sheets and Google Slides. These programs are used for everything from documenting processes to drafting content and beyond.
Our use of Amazon Web Services has also proved incredibly important to the business with both internal and external-facing functions.
What difference have these tools made to your business?
These tools are truly invaluable to the evolution of the business. Sococo and Slack ensure we don’t lose any day-to-day communication and collaboration, and they keep team members accountable and engaged.
Google’s G Suite allows our team to access a real-time, white-board approach to idea generation. This is essential for great collaboration. The use of Amazon Web Services allows us to dynamically scale website services. This lets us focus on bringing new features and improving services instead of manually adjusting resource levels thru the day.
Advice and personal
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned since starting your business?
You have to follow your instincts. I have learned through my experiences that when I did not follow my intuition, I wasn’t making the best decisions for the business.
What’s your best advice for other entrepreneurs?
Don’t quit. You went down a path for a reason. You saw an opportunity, don’t be afraid to explore it — or someone else will. Only by being in the game can you learn, adjust and ultimately execute. That gives you the best chance of being successful.
How do you unwind?
Time with my wife and two daughters always gives me much-needed balance and perspective. A good Pinot Noir helps a bit, too. Golf is my yoga — it clears my mind.
Was there a turning point in your life that led you to where you are today?
No, there wasn’t. It was just a professional revelation in which I saw an opportunity.
How do you balance the needs of your business with your personal life?
It’s blended, it’s not separate. In today’s world, you never turn it off, so an entrepreneur must learn to balance a variety of roles throughout each day.
Also published on Medium.