TrovaPage, an online marketplace that announced its public launch last week, wants to make it easier for yoga instructors, piano teachers, math tutors, and other creators and service providers to be ecommerce entrepreneurs.
Jingming Li, a former Alibaba
TrovaPage is aiming to do for the experience economy what Shopify did for sellers of physical goods like sneakers or skateboards, by giving artists and teachers the tools needed to connect with customers online.
Li also sees the potential for TrovaPage to help small businesses such as auto repair shops or restaurants to reach customers through video presentations, live-streaming, and online appointment booking.
TrovaPage faces big competition in the space. Social media giants Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok are adding new ways for small businesses to sell on their platforms; marketplaces like eBay
But TrovaPage is launching at a time of big opportunity. Freelancer and remote work platforms Fivver and Upwork
TrovaPage is tapping into that trend, as yoga teachers, piano teachers, dance instructors, and tutors around the world have replaced in-person teaching with online sessions.
TrovaPage, Li said, is different from the competition because it gives teachers, artists, and other small businesses all of the tech tools needed to run an ecommerce business, including letting them collect data they can use to market to customers and expand their businesses.
His goal in founding TrovaPage, Li said, was to create a platform that creative entrepreneurs could use to build careers.
“We want to simplify the experience and make it so simple on both sides – you don’t have to build your own website – so that that creators can concentrate on their talent,” he said.
Li said he developed the concept for TrovaPage after seeing seeing how a technology platform like Alibaba was able to help people grow their small businesses and control their own lives. TrovaPage has been operating in test mode for the past year. The platform currently has about 6,000 users, Li said. It has received pre-seed funding from an undisclosed corporate backer.
TrovaPage says it offers the following advantages to creative entrepreneurs:
- A fully autonomous digital shop, with the ability to add ecommerce to existing social media pages by linking them to the TrovaPage shopping cart
- Live-streaming channels for creators and small businesses
- The ability to live chat with customers
- Automated and curated referrals to attract new customers
- It instantly sends invoices to and accepts payments from customers
- It centrally manages all bookings, billings, and payment in one location
TrovaPage charges sellers a 10% commission, and a 59 cent processing fee per transaction. It waives the commission, and lowers the processing fee to 29 cents for the first six months a seller is on the platform, to allow them to grow their business, Li said.
Apsara Vydyula, a yoga teacher in Chennai, India, said her TrovaPage over the past year has enabled her to stay in business as the pandemic made it impossible to offer in-person classes.
Vydyula said she spread the word about her TrovaPage classes through social media. She typically draws at least a dozen customers for each of her twice-weekly yoga sessions. She has connected with new students from all over the world, with most of the customers coming from the United States and India.
“It definitely has worked for me, especially with Covid and the current situation, so I’m really glad I got on it,” she said.
The name, TrovaPage, Li said, comes from the Italian word for find, trova. It has two meanings on the platform, Li said.
“For creators this is a platform for them to seek their own passion, to be able to make their own living,” he said. “For the consumer side, it means that I can actually find all kinds of services and authentic experiences wherever I am.”