Thrifty app wins $5,000 startup of the year award
Rebecca Smith has had a flaming passion for entrepreneurship for years. She sold everything she could get her hands on – from handmade bracelets and beads to fresh lemons from her family’s lemon tree.
As a single mother fresh out of college, Smith sold brand-named liquidated items at reduced prices in her home country of Costa Rica and imported sterling silver jewelry from Thailand.
“The exchange of value between people has always been fascinating to me,” Smith said.
Smith, 38, and her tech startup Thrifty won the $5,000 “Rising Star Startup of the Year” award at the 4th annual CelebrateGNV on Feb 2. The event, spearheaded by non-profit organization startGNV, served as a celebration highlighting the past year’s successes of local Gainesville tech startups and businesses.
Company awards finalists were chosen based on their applications submitted by company representatives and were judged by a panel of innovation community leaders.
Nationally, women founders only received 2% of venture capital funding for their businesses in 2021.
“The odds are already against me because I’m a woman,” Smith said.
Launched in 2020, Thrifty is an app that enables sellers of second-hand items to make money from their unwanted items without leaving their homes.
Vetted event managers are available on the app for sellers to send their items to. These managers can sell items using online platforms like Poshmark and Facebook Marketplace or through garage sales and pop-up events.
The app finds local event managers in a seller's proximity when sellers input their zip code and preferred mile radius. Sellers can then match with event managers and discuss the details of the sale of their items through private messaging.
Sellers can earn up to 60% from the sale of their items if they price and tag their own items. If a seller chooses to use the VIP tagging service, they will earn 40% from the sale of their items, according to Thrifty’s webpage.
After 30 days, the items not sold can be donated to local charities.
Rohn Henry, 39, says the efficiency of Thrifty event managers helped him get rid of unused storage items he wanted to offload.
The self-storage front desk receptionist referred Henry to Thrifty after he asked how he could downsize his unit.
He said that most of the toys, exercise equipment and clothes that belonged to his fiancé and her son were sold within 30 days. Despite the money he made, he was just glad he found a way to get rid of his items.
“The ability to get rid of unwanted items and get paid for it was a win-win for me,” Henry said.
He said the app can help prevent self-storage companies from auctioning off items of people in a similar situation.
Smith launched her first startup venture in 2010 with Corks and Colors Studio, a place that offers weekly courses in art. Smith said she grew interested in the concept of consignment in 2018 while juggling other businesses.
She eventually found success in three-day pop-up events around Gainesville and jumped at the opportunity to create a consignment-type business despite being a full-time mother.
She said providing opportunities for people to make supplemental income was worth the risk.
“I didn't know what that concept was going to be, but I’ve always known that I want to be able to provide a way for people to have their own side businesses,” said Smith.
Through the support of Santa Fe’s Center for Innovation & Economic Development, Smith used the space and business insight from consultants and peer groups to grow Corks and Colors from the ground up.
CIED entrepreneur-in-residence Bill Dorman said he admired her go-getter mentality from the start.
Dorman said he marveled at her immediate turnaround after advising her to collect the necessary materials to support her classes.
“Anybody can have an idea. Anybody can be excited about it. The hard part is doing the work that’s required to make that thing happen,” said Dorman, 54. “It’s not the idea, it’s the execution.”
Smith says Thrifty’s mission is entirely community-centric — events like CelebrateGNV are an encouragement for small business owners.
“Having a startup is a hard road to take,” Smith said. “It’s a boost in energy having your community rally around you.”
Smith said she plans to use the $5,000 cash prize to fund larger pop-up events that sell clothing catered to college-aged buyers. Thrifty is entirely self-funded, so the cash prize will go a long way, she said.
“As much as some people may look at that and think it’s not a lot for a business, it really is,” Smith said.