[Lab] Introducing TugBits.com - a marketplace for makers.

Tom Burns tom.i.burns at gmail.com
Wed Jun 8 17:19:02 EDT 2011

Hi Darcy,

Thanks for your insight!

While community-wise we definitely offer nothing compared to eBay or Etsy at
launch, we do offer services they do not, like content hosting and secure
post-purchase downloads.  In those regards we offer services more similar to
app stores or iTunes, which generally charge 25-30%.

I agree that maker-related content cannot be summarized with a small
paragraph.  We hope to eventually offer enough features on TugBits that an
item's page could also be it's equivalent "blog post" or "instructables
page" with complete details and follow-up comments.

Naturally a lot of people will still have their own website.  For them, we
will offer an easily embedded widget so that they could embed our "Buy Now"
button on their page that would redirect TugBits and initiate the purchase
process.  I agree that getting a paypal button on your page is relatively
painless, but that is only half the process.  For file delivery, if you do
it yourself you would need to email the file to every buyer, or write your
own means to deliver it automatically.  You would also want to ensure that
that buyer cannot copy and paste that link onto facebook and suddenly your
item is being shared to all their friends.  We have taken care of those
details for you.

I agree with you that website sign-up is a pain, so we've attempted to
minimize the input you need to provide. We'd love to skip the registration
step but we want buyers to be able to re-download their item if they have a
network connection issue, and for that we need to be able to tie every
purchase to a user account.

One thing I'd like to mention, is that sales is not a zero-sum game.  A sale
you receive on TugBits is not necessarily a sale you would have received on
your own private website.  As well, there is nothing restricting you from
selling in both places.  I would suggest for content sellers that listing
their item on as many sites as possible (especially those without a listing
fee) would increase their total reach and ultimately their sales.

Regarding promotions, we have a few plans that should get us recurring posts
on the MAKE and hackaday blog, as well as some press on other "start-up"
related news aggregators.  I don't really want to leak the details right
now, but if you follow either of those hopefully you'll hear of us again
soon :)

Thanks for the discussion!


On Wed, Jun 8, 2011 at 4:01 PM, Darcy Whyte <darcy at siteware.com> wrote:

> A fair percentage would depend on how much value you're adding in the
> chain. I'm not convinced people will adopt above ebay or etsy with anything
> near 25%. You might use ebay/etsy pricing model and pricing level as a
> guideline.
> But you're value will be much less than theirs initially since they are
> already a "shopping district" or a destination for buyers.
> Business wise, there's another issue to look at. Technical stuff (maker
> kinda stuff), would not be single page product description. Users would want
> to link back to their information pages, support pages, example pages and
> such. So after you've created the route to your user's Web offerings, the
> buyer may buy direct.
> Actually, there is another issue for sellers who list on sites like etsy. I
> once went to a sellers own Web site which directed me to etsy to make an
> actual purchase. Etsy provided barriers. I had to register there before I
> could buy. Had the seller just put a paypal button on their product page,
> we'd be good to go and I'd have purchased right there. Instead I was put off
> by the extra friction that this extra layer provided. It's another party,
> another mouth to feed, another potential spammer, another potential security
> issue, another password, more confirmation emails, another delay.
> I came back a few days later (because the product was very unique.. WATER
> MOLECULE EARRINGS), and I registered at Etsy. With all the clicking around
> and looking at competitive stuff, I didn't make the purchase yet because I
> wanted to shop more.
> The seller is loosing sales from their Web site in this case because etsy
> is a distraction. But on the other hand etsy may find them buyers (from some
> other competitive Web site or from a person where etsy was their shopping
> destination).
> A already know the value proposition that the seller gave in too in the
> water molecule earring example. They are a multi skew vendor and they can
> manage their inventory and a large number of products through etsy.
> For the single skew seller (typical of inventors), putting a paypal buy
> button on the page is way more effective.
> I think simplicity may have some value but it needs to be very simple. Much
> easier than grabbing a pay button from the paypal interface and slapping it
> on a page.
> It's so easy to get a site together for selling stuff. It just needs
> wordpress and a paypal plugin and you're good to go. Actually, Paypal has
> enough tools to add pay buttons to any site so once a user gets through the
> paypal hurdle, they can even make a single page site to sell their product
> easily.
> To overcome all this you'd have to become a shopping destination (like
> ebay). You mentioned that you'd be promoting the site. What are your plans
> for that?
> On Wed, Jun 8, 2011 at 2:38 PM, Tom Burns <tom.i.burns at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Hi Darcy, thank you for your response!
>> On Wed, Jun 8, 2011 at 1:53 PM, Darcy Whyte <darcy at siteware.com> wrote:
>>> The site looks nice.
>>> 25%? You might find that wanting 1/4 of sale amounts will provide
>>> significant friction to adoption (for buyers and sellers).
>>  I understand and agree.  Once we are running for awhile we will have some
>> knowledge of our costs and plan on scaling our cut accordingly.  We'd rather
>> claim 25% up front and bring it lower in the future than vice-versa and be
>> accused of bait & switch.  Out of interest, considering the service offered,
>> what would you consider to be a fair percentage?
>>> It doesn't have any measures for authenticity (ebay has reviews, web
>>> pages have in-degree). How can buyers and sellers have as much confidence as
>>> they have with ebay without those measures?
>> The state of the site right now is "minimal viable product", so a lot of
>> features are missing but planned.  Buyers will be able to rate items, and a
>> seller's rating will be a weighted average of their item's ratings.  As of
>> right now a logged-in user can comment on an item which gives a simple means
>> to provide feedback, but a lot more is planned.
>>> If a person were to list a product for sale on their own Web site, why
>>> would your Web site sell more? Especially given that having a Web site is
>>> either free or next to nothing and you keep all the revenue.
>> We offer a few benefits compared to doing it yourself:
>> - We are actively marketing this website.  Our success is derived from
>> your success, so we are trying hard to drive customers to our site, to buy
>> your product.
>> - Marketplace visibility.  You will gain exposure by having your items
>> listed alongside other similar items.
>> - Simplicity.  You want to spend your time designing and building things,
>> not writing PayPal integration code.
>> - Security.  Items purchased with our service are only downloadable by the
>> buyer.  The payload content is stored on Amazon's S3 servers and without a
>> generated download key, access is denied.
>>> I clicked through to the "Domain Name Finder" product at your site.
>>> What you've done there is avoided putting the name of the product in the
>>> Title Metatag. You put your own buyline there instead. You also didn't put
>>> product name or information in the H1 tag. In fact you have a blank H1 tag.
>>> With that situation, it reduces the chance that someone can google the
>>> product successfully.
>> Thanks!  That is completely a bug.  I've added it to our immediate TODO
>> list.  We need to fix our SEO, I completely agree.  You should see a fix for
>> this in the next 48 hours.
>>> So what would be the reason someone would list on your site rather than
>>> just make a simple site of their own?
>> The list I provided above enumerates what I see as our advantages.  It's a
>> good question!
>> Cheers,
>> Tom
>>> Darcy
>>> On Wed, Jun 8, 2011 at 1:25 PM, Tom Burns <tom.i.burns at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>> I'd like to introduce the community to a website I've been working on
>>>> with a few friends.  I would love to hear your feedback on the idea and the
>>>> site, http://www.tugbits.com .
>>>> Our dream goal is to help people quit their desk jobs and pay their
>>>> bills doing what they love, making things.
>>>> TugBits.com is a digital marketplace for makers.  You upload your design
>>>> files, list them for sale, and collect money via PayPal when your item
>>>> sells.  Likewise, you can use the site to find quality, reviewed designs
>>>> suitable for printing on your 3d printer, milling on your CNC, running on
>>>> your Arduino, etc.  Also suitable would be e-books, schematics, source code
>>>> libraries and tools, etc.  Only after the PayPal transaction is the buyer
>>>> able to download the files.  There are no physical items sold on the TugBits
>>>> store, only files.
>>>> Our goal is to help talented makers easily profit from their hard work.
>>>>  We do not want to replace the existing "free/open source" model, but we
>>>> want to augment it. We think that if you can get paid for your work it will
>>>> compel you to go the extra step and make it that much better.  Market driven
>>>> innovation.
>>>> Registering and listing items is free.  We charge 25% of your gross
>>>> revenue and bill monthly.  Depending on our costs and community feedback
>>>> this number is probably going to change, but it's similar to the costs
>>>> associated with putting an app on an app store or a musician listing with
>>>> iTunes.
>>>> Currently you can register on the site and list items for sale, which is
>>>> what I would love for any of you interested to do.  We are in the final
>>>> stages of getting PayPal to sign off on the site, at which point sellers
>>>> will be able to collect money and items will be able to be sold.
>>>> Please visit the site and let me know what you think!  Even if you hate
>>>> it, please reply to tell me why.
>>>> Thank you,
>>>> Tom Burns
>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>> Lab mailing list
>>>> Lab at artengine.ca
>>>> http://artengine.ca/mailman/listinfo/lab
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