Podcast: Niraj Shah & Steve Conine on Launching Wayfair

Podcast: Niraj Shah & Steve Conine on Launching Wayfair

Cornell University roommates Niraj and Steve started with developing internet directories when Netscape was still the default browser. They tell their stories as beginner entrepreneurs and how they described themselves as great salesmen.

The hype surrounding the internet allowed them to expand their business but they had run into some issues with competing with other businesses. Fast forward to 2001, they changed their focus to mobile phones and had an idea of making software that managed companies’ contracts with their customers. 

The Story Behind Wayfair

One of these companies did buy the idea but they lost it during the 2011 World Trade Center incident. They reached for their first audience and sought it out in the yellow pages. The duo shares their frustrations about not getting a customer for their website SimplifiedMobile but also on their perspective that these failures are just a form of stepping stones.

The Wayfair founders saw an opportunity when they saw a website dedicated to selling bird cages. That meant people can search for any category of items online. They saw the potential and launched their very own website called RacksandStands.com. This was their first website that followed the theme. 

Niraj and Steve didn’t have items shipped to them. There were already existing electronics shops that included small stands in their inventories and all they had to do was to corroborate information and enable the user to make the purchase.

They even detail the specific steps they took and how Google’s services were a contributor to their success. They have set up other websites with other furniture and didn’t realize it was also raking in profit. 

Niraj and Steve initially had 4 phone lines in their own homes as their acting customer service hotline. The company and their website grew but the pair haven’t encountered any difficulties in their relationship as business partners. They have similarities but they attribute their lack of conflicts to being more mature when they entered the business.

The pair talk more about how investors got into the business and more about how their creation affected their lives. Listen to the story of Wayfair by Niraj Shah and Steve Conine.



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