By Jack M. Germain
Apr 28, 2021 6:15 AM PT
TrovaPage, a new global open internet marketplace, helps creators and other entrepreneurs focus on marketing without detracting from their creativity.
Cofounder Jingming Li on Tuesday announced the marketplace’s launch, though the website has been open for the last few months for entrepreneurs working in the creator industry.
TrovaPage has no upfront cost to get set up and provides a complete e-commerce platform that allows entrepreneurs to build, market, and bill for services. Users’ businesses range from yoga instruction and guitar lessons, to small restaurants, personalized astrology, and nonprofits.
The creator economy has grown in the last few years, particularly during the pandemic. Advances in internet and cloud computing technologies make it easier for people to market and monetize their skills and passions through online platforms, according to Li.
TrovaPage differs from other marketing platforms and standalone commercial website building platforms, Li said. His target users are creators that typically are small shop owners, people who have home businesses, side hustles, and other professional skills on which they want to build a business.
“They do not typically have many resources to build sophisticated websites or apps that are ready for digital commerce. Nor can they spend a lot of money hiring SEO and marketing consultants to bring traffic to their websites,” he told the E-Commerce Times.
Different Approach Meets Creator Needs
The market for e-commerce solutions for selling products is competitive and mature. But it has failed to develop a comprehensive and holistic solution for creators that want to easily build, market, and monetize their own business.
Current solutions such as sites for finding the best local businesses, or online marketplaces for freelance services, are either too expensive or lack the necessary functionality. That is the problem TrovaPage seeks to solve.
Trying to get a handle on all of the individual CRM, social media, invoicing, and bill payment solutions needed to run a business is beyond most small businesses and creators. Instead, they struggle to effectively build, control, and monetize their brands, as they try to maintain strong and enduring relationships with their customers. explained Li.
With simple and intuitive clicks, no code required, creators can transform their ideas, hobbies, and expertise into real businesses on this marketplace platform. TrovaPage is the first commerce platform for the creator economy, he added.
Li, a former vice president and CTO of AliPay, built TrovaPage to tackle this problem. He spent seven years at Alibaba, AliPay, and Ant Financial. During that time, AliPay grew from a nascent startup into a global fintech powerhouse, and AliCloud became Asia’s largest cloud service. TrovaPage cofounder Ann Sun was the head of AliPay merchant technology and international product.
“For most creators, building their own sites with commercial tools such as Shopify or Wix are too expensive and risky. As a result, the majority of today’s small business sites are simple static informational sites,” he observed.
CRM Without the Complexity
Most of the existing marketing platforms such as Facebook, Google, Yelp, Groupon, and Fiverr use a listings/reviews approach which typically requires that small business have their own websites and a physical location, and pay expensive advertising fees, explained Li. That all makes it hard to measure return on investment and does not have a reliable measure to validate authenticity of the reviews.
“They do not provide any mechanism for small businesses to build lasting relationships with customers,” said Li.
TrovaPage is a vertically integrated and global marketplace platform. It provides an autonomous digital shop in a virtual mall along with all necessary technology tools as utilities in the shop to help prompt and run the business, he explained.
Included with TrovaPage are on-platform networks with real-time communication capabilities to build a customer base instead of word-of-mouth-advertising offline. Creators can ensure their shops are discovered through direct engagement, and they in turn can better understand their customers to offer superior experiences.
“TrovaPage will level the playing field for small businesses and creators so they can play and win on a global scale,” Li predicted.
How TrovaPage Works
Users follow a two-step process to create their digital marketplace. First, they provide a description of their business. Then, they upload photos and videos that highlight their product and services.
To enhance marketing efforts, TrovaPage makes it easy for creator merchants to instantly e-commerce-enable existing websites and social media pages by linking to the TrovaPage digital shopping cart via simple plugins. The creator platform also enables offline shops to accept online orders and payments through QR codes.
Interactive live-streaming channels let creators and small businesses capture their creativity. They can engage, market, and sell directly to their users.
Another feature lets creator merchants live chat with potential and existing customers. This ability makes it easy to maintain connections with customers through community updates.
Other CRM tasks include automated and curated referrals to help drive growth and the overall success of the businesses. So does the ability to instantly send invoices to customers and accept payments from any customer with a valid email address.
TrovaPage helped Harish Negi, owner and president of Deedee’s Restaurant, overcome the restrictions the pandemic imposed on his business’s operations.
“When Covid came, we were hit hard as we had to stop indoor dining. TrovaPage allowed us to quickly establish an online presence and take orders and payments directly from our customers,” Negi told the E-Commerce Times.
Using TrovaPage lowered costs by eliminating the middlemen. It also helped Negi understand customers better and tailor the menu to the community’s specific tastes, he explained.
One Lacking Service, Physical Delivery
TrovaPage does not directly offer logistic services for creators, noted Li. But plenty of logistic solutions exist.
Eventually, many logistic services can be part of creator ecosystems in an organic way. Digital products can be delivered directly through TrovaPage, however.
Li sees the creator economy as the natural progression of small business. As the internet continues to remove boundaries and limitations, more people will be able to leverage technology platforms such as TrovaPage to become creators and provide value to communities and get compensated for their services.
“Platforms such as YouTube and TikTok have shown early success and helped foster a new class of content creators. However, 95 percent of creators are not getting paid. People should not only have Uber and DoorDash as ways to make alternative incomes,” Li said.
Availability and Cost
TrovaPage is available immediately for anyone to begin building a brand and monetizing their business. All service fees have been waived for the first six months to help creators kickstart their businesses.
The company charges a fee for each completed transaction originated from TrovaPage.com. This includes credit card processing fees. The standard fee is either commission based, for as low as 10 percent of sales, or a monthly subscription starting at $19.99, depending on the size and type of business, according to Li.
“We understand the small business environment is tough [for creators], particularly during the pandemic; we want to empower its success by providing the ideal technology platform and pricing to minimize their risk,” said Li.
TrovaPage, a Delaware corporation, has its main office in San Francisco.