Toronto and San Francisco-based Canopy launched about four months ago and has been bringing in revenue from day one.
It’s a simple affiliate site that only features products from Amazon- not a bad idea when one considers Amazon’s $61 billion in revenue in 2012. Every time someone see’s something on Canopy and buys it, the site makes a small percentage of the sale.
But Canopy, cofounded by Daniel Kaplan and Shannon Fox, is an invite-request site that counts designers, “trend-setters” or anyone else who is into browsing cool products on Amazon, as its user base. So the most popular products that end up on the front page are often quite appealing to a wide range of buyers.
Kaplan said the startup is made up of five friends split between Toronto and San Francisco. All of them were constantly buying things from the world’s largest online retailer, and everyone was interested in each other’s new swag. ”Amazon is such a big market place and it has so many products, so we were curious: what are the best products on amazon and how do you find them? Amazon is a great place if you know what your looking for but its not a great place just to discover new products,” said Kaplan.
Many Amazon affiliate sites exist on the net and what seems to separate the good from the bad is the site’s look and simplicity. Thus the Canopy team built the site from a primarily design-focused intent (which shouldn’t be surprising given the site sells design products). “We’re all design-focused and we want everything to be simple, beautiful, easy-to-use and clean. The site is very clean and that’s important to us.”
There’s recently been a proliferation of design-focused ecommerce communities that can offer limited-time flash sales on cool products. Or those sites can act as bookmarking communities- basically where any member can upload their favourite products from around the web to up the legitimacy and authenticity of the community.
Kaplan said the problem with bookmarking sites is that sometimes a user will discover a beautiful product, but they never know where they’re going to end up once it comes time to purchase. “If it’s a product you can actually buy, if it’s a dead link, or if it takes you to a foreign website, we really feel let down by those sites, so Canopy is a place where anything you discover you can actually buy, it is available and it has the fastest shipping and the lowest prices,” he said.