This e-commerce startup wants users to design their ideal products

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What separates Massdrop from other e-commerce companies is that it runs on something the founders of the company call “community-driven commerce.” The products that are sold on Massdrop are decided by the users, who discuss what they’re interested in and what they’re willing to pay for. Once enough users express their interest in a product, employees then figure out where to get enough of that product to meet demand, and are often able to pass group discounts onto the users by buying the products in bulk. It’s a brilliant idea, one that the company’s founders want to expand on by actually allowing users to help design the products they want through community collaboration. 

Massdrop‘s investors have argued that the group commerce site is more a community than a straightforward marketplace. Here’s one way that Massdrop is doing things differently — a new initiative called Massdrop Collabs. The startup has built specialist communities for folks such as audiophiles and mechanical keyboard fans, and it offers group-buying opportunities to those communities. With Massdrop Collabs, co-founder and CEO Steve El-Hage said the community can actually get involved in creating those products. Apparently Massdrop has done this kind of collaborative design before, for example with its Infinity Keyboard Kit, but now it’s pursuing these efforts in a more systematic way. The company says it worked with “select enthusiasts” from its audiophile community to design headphones, then it took those ideas to electronics company Fostex, resulting in the Fostex x Massdrop TH-X00, with more than 15 elements (including the sound signature and the mahogany hardwood earcup material) chosen by the community. El-Hage described this as a process of “many, many people coming together.” “Everybody contributes a little piece,” he added. “We’re not allowing for individual components to be voted on, we’re taking all ideas and combining them into one big product suggestion.”

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