The Fetch Blog

Curated reads and events for professionals

Interview: London local, Nicole Vanderbilt — February 10, 2013

Interview: London local, Nicole Vanderbilt

This week, David Iwanow chats to Nicole Vanderbilt, the Etsy Country Manager for UK, Australia and Canada.


Can you please introduce yourself and how did you become involved with Etsy?

My name is Nicole Vanderbilt, and I joined Etsy back in September after spending two years running a UK-based internet startup in the home decor and interior design space. It was during this time that I learned about Etsy and watched it grow in the early stages. I’d always admired Etsy’s strong focus on the seller community and the incredible company culture born out of a unique combination of world class engineers and incredible creative talent. It was my first choice as the next place to work by quite a large margin. I count myself lucky daily that it worked out.

Your role is Country Director, can you explain exactly what that entails?

My role is to make our local in country teams successful, and we are very fortunate that our success and our sellers’ success is pretty much one and the same. More specifically, our country teams work on introducing Etsy to new buyers and sellers, ensuring that the site reflects the needs of the local market while maintaining its strength as a global platform, and supporting, educating and empowering our sellers. They are our biggest asset. A lot of times our job is give them what they need and get out of the way!

How do you stay on top of changes in trends and competitors? Do you prefer online or offline sources?

I think the key is to listen to our buyers and sellers. They are our best source of intel – what they want, what they need, what other things they are finding that they love and that help them run their business, enjoy what they do and make a difference to their lives.

Do you have any tips for readers who would love to work for or with Etsy? Via internships, partnerships, employees?

Get in touch, be creative, don’t assume that we have it all already figured out.

What is your favourite section/product on Etsy? What about it makes it #1 in your heart?

It’s impossible to choose just one. What I love about Etsy is that I can find things that make me laugh, that are beautiful, and that I can use every day. My current obsession is vintage French coffee cups. They seem to be the perfect size for the amount of coffee I need. And, for a while I couldn’t get enough of notebooks. I like finding small ways to make the every day a little less boring.

What is the best or most unique item you have found on Etsy that you had to have/share?

“Most unique” is a fierce fight on Etsy. I loved this when I discovered it because it made me giggle and remember a funny story about high school science class which I never thought would be captured in knit! And, I can barely get through a conversation with a female friend without trying to get her to consider buying a pair of these. The perfect ballet flat, made by a real person, from recycled/upcycled leather, at a good price. There are different colours and fabrics – a little something for everyone.

etsy-homepageEtsy’s current homepage

How does Australia market differ from other regions? Do we buy more products produced locally or globally?

Around the world on Etsy, we find a lot of cross-border purchases happening. It’s exciting to be on the first truly global marketplaces (even the big global Internet retailers mostly silo off each country and try to limit cross-country shopping). By contrast, we are thrilled to be able to help a Latvian rug maker reach customers around the world directly from her workshop and to help an Australian buyer find something from abroad that simply isn’t available locally. It’s good for the business and it’s great for the buyers and sellers involved.

Australia is a strong market for us on both the seller and buyer side. There’s a strong domestic market here and a strong cross-border trade. I think probably the biggest difference is that Australians seem to be even more accustomed to purchasing things from overseas than some of our other markets.

I was interested to discover Adam Savage of Mythbusters loves Etsy, what local celebrities do you know of that love Etsy?

What’s so great about Etsy is lots of different people love it – from Martha Stewart to Tavi to Adam Savage. Locally, we know Lisa Mitchell is a fan.

What recent social changes have you seen that you are excited about? Facebook Search Graph?

I’ll be a bit contrarian here. I am not that interested in more different types of search. Don’t get me wrong, I use Google as much as anyone else, and I am keen for search to work and work well. But, the gap remains in helping people who don’t know exactly know what they are looking for or how to put it into words. How do we help people find relevant inspiration and recreate the same experience that a gallery or boutique offers in the real world – where you can wander around visually, rather than just cutting straight to the chase? The social graph will be a part of this, but we are only really at the beginning.

What are some some home grown winners you think are doing Etsy right?

Australian has a very wide variety of fantastic sellers. Some businesses who are really taking advantage of Etsy’s global platform include wall decal designer, stationery team, wedding accessory designer and homewares designer

Do you have any advice for Australians wanting to launch their products on Etsy? Types of products?

The great thing about Etsy is the wide variety of things that sell and sell well. Our biggest categories our things like jewellery, fashion, weddings and vintage, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t be successful selling a furniture, food, or toys.

The key to success is making your shop look great – the product photography, your shop banner, the way all the products look together on the page. Also ensuring that buyers can find you by using great product titles, tags and descriptions with words that people might use to search for your products.

Do you have anything exclusive to share with The Fetch readers on what is coming soon?

We will continue to support our sellers in becoming successful. We are constantly looking for ways we can make this process better and easier for buyers and sellers. So, nothing to announce at the moment but there is plenty in the works to help achieve these goals.

Editor’s note: We’re please to share Nicole will be joining us at our next dinner conversation for The Fetch Melbourne this month! Stay tuned for more events and news from creative companies and startups via

About our Ambassador David Iwanow: David can be found working as a SEO Product Manager for and in Amsterdam. He is an avid traveler and publishes on TravelNetwork but he is also one of the folks behind the monthly SEO Meetups, which have almost 2,000 members across Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.You can also find him on TwitterFacebook and Google+.

Event Review: What’s next for the World Wide Web? —

Event Review: What’s next for the World Wide Web?

What: The unique inventor of the world wide web giving a rare speech at Sydney CityTalk
Overheard: “What we do with a computer is only limited by our imagination.”

intro tim berners lee

When I discovered that Sir Tim Berners-Lee was about to give a talk in Sydney, I felt immediately happier and excited. He was coming to Australia for the first time in over a decade. You see, I am not a geek nor an IT programmer. I don’t even know how to code (but this may change soon if I follow the recommendations of Sir Tim). But I am really passionate about the Internet, and how it changed everything, from the way we live to the way we travel or consume. And I knew enough to be aware of the role Sir Tim played in the world as we know it today. For those of you who are not good at remembering names, Sir Tim Berners-Lee happens to be the most important creator alive today. He’s the guy who invented the world wide web, the thing that allows us to surf the web, consult Wikipedia, like a status on Facebook, share a picture of our last meal on Instagram and tweet like crazy while he spoke at a Sydney City Talk on Tuesday 5 February 2013.

crowded house TBL

The atmosphere was electric while the crowd was waiting for Sir Tim Berners-Lee to make his appearance. But first several introductions were made by, among others, Sean Aylmer,the editor-in-chief of the Sydney Morning Herald and Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore. The former recognised how the new media landscape was all but recognizable from the 1990s; the latter detailed how the technology revolutionised the way we experience our city, from libraries to public transport.

tim berners lee

When Sir Tim finally appeared, there was almost a standing ovation from the audience of self-confessed nerds, programmers and entrepreneurs. From then, the magic flowed through the room, borne by the energy, wittiness and passion of Sir Tim.

In 1969, when the Internet was invented (not by Berners-Lee, he was only 14 years old at that time), a lot more people were excited about Led Zeppelin and the moon landing than the Internet. 20 years later, in 1989, while working at the CERN, Berners-Lee was frustrated at the crude and cumbersome way the Internet worked. He wrote a memo to his boss about a hint he had that it was possible to create a common language for all computers. His boss wrote in the  margin of the paper: “Vague… but exciting idea”. Berners-Lee received the authorisation to play with his idea and in September 1990, he took an Apple computer out of the box and two months later, the http protocol was born!

This is the first great lesson Sir Tim shared: innovation comes from giving people time to play.

Sir Tim also asked relevant questions: Who controls the Internet? Monitors it? How much power do we give our governments to block sites? As he said himself “Providing the Government with the trust of blocking websites is something I wouldn’t recommend”. As the question of trust is not a simple one, Sir Tim chooses transparency and open access to data. He asks for government and scholars to give full access to data. Data is the source and the more the data, the more you can develop and create new things. The Internet should be a blank piece of paper that anyone can write upon it. The web revolutionized the way we have access to knowledge. But with knowledge come duties. One of them is that every individual has to understand its impact on the web. This means being able to understand the technology, the language its uses. But most people experiment computer as a commodity, an appliance like a fridge and only few will actually experiment with it. That’s why we need more people teaching code in schools.

Coding is not gender-specific. We need more people who code, especially girls, especially in schools.

If you don’t know how to code, it’s your duty to write/blog about how you’d like computers to work or find a programmer who can do it. Sir Tim encourages more people to learn to program and take control of the machines at their fingertips to solve problems. The future is not about predictions, it’s about realising what we want. As expressed by Sir Tim, “Saying what you want is far more productive than guessing. I don’t do predictions”.

global tim berners lee

The second great lesson that Sir Tim taught us is that yes, the web has revolutionized the way we live: it took IT from the fringe to the centre and it also put the power in consumer hands and made technology a lot easier to use… as long as we learn how to use it. Collaboration, transparency, individual responsibility, all are key words to the future of the web: learning to code allows us to make the world a better place. It’s not too late.

What you do with a computer is only limited by your imagination. You don’t need permission to innovate on the web.

The growth in data is exponential. It continues to rise not only because of new applications  but because other devices are coming online. Take videos for example: video is planned to grow significantly over the next five years and this not only due to cat videos. Even though Sir Tim acknowledged: “Cat videos were a very important part of the plan for adopting the web”. The whole web is becoming more and more mobile, which makes the whole web social. It’s constantly reshaping our lives and the way we consume, exchange, communicate. Collaborative consumption models build trails of reputational data that doesn’t exist anywhere else. And the question remains: Who owns that data? Is the Government? Companies? How will the commodification of data affect the growth of the Internet? Recently, the Australian government said it wanted to collect and store data on its citizens for at least two years, for security reason… but, argued Sir Tim, who’s to say that stored data wouldn’t fall in the wrong hands? What about data mining? Or data hoarding? Or even identity fraud? Again, according to Sir Tim, transparency and open data are our best tactics to prevent this from happening. Like the media considered as the fourth estate, the Internet should be free and be like a “fifth estate”.

The third lesson Sir Tim shared is that we have the answers to our own questions. We are the ones who can shape the future, by living today and learning and sharing, we are shaping the world of tomorrow according to our expectations and hopes.

Regarding the future of the media and the dying newspapers, Sir Tim reminds us that the average person, most of us, is overwhelmed by junk information. We want professional guidance. That’s why the news industry should concentrate on the value of the information they’re giving rather than the medium. Good quality content will always be king on the web. People need the profession of journalists, they just don’t want it on dead trees! So the news industry needs to experiment with new business models for providing information online. Content providers are already directly addressing to their public. The new role of journalists and editors will be to make sense of the mass of information of the net. Journalists need to be in the digital space and format people want it…

Impressive panel discussion with Hael Kobayashi, executive director, Creative Intelligence, University of Technology, Sydney, Glen Boreham, chairman, Screen Australia, former managing director of IBM Australia and New Zealand, and chair of the Australian Government’s Convergence Review, Alan Noble, director of engineering, Google Australia & New Zealand, Paul McCarthy, director of strategy and innovation, SIRCA Ltd, Wendy Simpson, chairman, Springboard Enterprises, Rachel Botsman, author and social innovator
Impressive panel discussion with Hael Kobayashi, executive director, Creative Intelligence, University of Technology, Sydney, Glen Boreham, chairman, Screen Australia, former managing director of IBM Australia and New Zealand, and chair of the Australian Government’s Convergence Review, Alan Noble, director of engineering, Google Australia & New Zealand, Paul McCarthy, director of strategy and innovation, SIRCA Ltd, Wendy Simpson, chairman, Springboard Enterprises, Rachel Botsman, author and social innovator

To conclude, if Sir Tim could change one thing in the past, he would take out the two slaches; if he could do something in the present, it would be to ensure complete access to open data. For the question of the future, “What is after the web?” His answer is crystal clear:  Whatever you can imagine it’s up to you, go build it!

About our ambassador // Delphine Vuagnoux is a community ambassador for Sydney. She is passionate about innovation and social change. She is a communications professional at All Together Now and Medianet. You can find her on Twitter: @delphinevuagnou.

Interview: SF local, Chelsea Rustrum — December 20, 2012

Interview: SF local, Chelsea Rustrum

This week we got some questions in with Chelsea Rustrum. Chelsea is an advocate of the sharing economy including coliving and coworking, a long-time entrepreneur and organises the Sharers of SF event series. She’s the creator of Startup Abroad – an initiative that saw 10 hackers, makers, doers and thinkers (including myself and Mat from The Fetch) head to Bali for a few weeks. 


You started Free Mania when you were just a teenager, what gave you the impulse and motivation to create something from an early age? (The business now has close to 44,000 FB likes!)

The mere idea that text and images could be communicated to anyone in the world excited me. Games never really did anything for me and until the internet, I thought the PC was a machine my brother wasted countless time killing demons on (unless of course, you count the Sega Mastersystem).

Once I comprehended the access I could have to others, I immediately wanted to be a part of it and put something out there. Thus, I created one of the first and best websites for free sample products and coupons on the internet.

Why free stuff? It was the first thing I typed in on Yahoo! And I was 14 – who could blame me? I wanted to see what I could get for nothing. As a kid I was a penny pincher, fascinated by the idea of turning something as simple as grocery trip into a money saving challenge. I remember telling my mom, “Hey, that one is cheaper by the ounce!” when I was just nine years old.

And so, I did. I taught myself everything I know about building websites and attracting visitors from the ground up. And mind you, this was still during the era where people were awed by simple technology. I recall being at a gas station and hearing two middle aged men discuss this “new thing” called email where they could send and receive electronic messages.

One thing led to another and before I knew it, I had over 1 million visitors a month, advertisers hounding me by phone and national publications talking about my little corner of the web in feature articles.

What is the ‘Sharing Economy’ and how does it differ from the collaborative consumption movement?

Good question.

I think both phrases allude to the same concept, but I prefer the “sharing economy” because sharing includes the idea that our needs can be met together.

Collaborative consumption seems to miss the mark on the cultural and social implications this movement can and will have on society. It’s not about consumption – it’s about doing more with less and connecting to other people more deeply.

Anything that gives consumers “access over ownership” is usually held up under the umbrella of collaborative consumption, whereas the new sharing economy relies on individuals trading goods and services on a peer-to-peer basis. So things like ZipCar and Netflix offer access and the ability to collaboratively consume, but they don’t have the human-to-human exchange that something like Airbnb or GetAround offer. They work on more of a timeshare model verses the idea that we have enough if we can just rearrange what we all already individually possess to be shared in a way that works for us.

What is the sharing economy? The sharing economy is an overlay on the traditional economy which re-imagines underutilized space, capacity, skills and time. Everything from a spare bedroom to a car that sits the majority of it’s life have value. New sharing platforms have emerged to facilitate references, trust and mechanisms for payment between individuals to share their assets as they choose, when it’s convenient for them. This allows people to save money, make money and lead more connected lives. And my favorite part of the sharing economy is that people I now think of strangers as friends I haven’t met yet.

You’re about to launch a campaign for your upcoming book – what’s the book about and why did you go for a crowd-funding campaign?

I’m co-authoring a book on the new sharing economy titled ‘It’s a Shareable Life‘, which shows people how they can practically apply the new sharing economy to their everyday lives to save money, make money and feel more connected to their community. The book has taken a full year to write and incorporates everything we’ve learned as users in an easy to understand format that guides you to a better, more fulfilling life.

You organize the Sharers of SF community – what other events do you like to go to around SF?

I enjoy Collaborative Chats, talks and the Commonwealth Club, local Skillshare classes and many one-off events and conferences that talk about intersections in technology, culture and how people as well as companies will respond to the fact that work can and will happen from anywhere for most people in the future.

The crew at a Sharers of SF event

You’re passionate about the emerging scene in Oakland and the East Bay. What are some happenings and spaces we should look out for?

The East Bay is emerging as this deeply artistic epicenter that’s slightly edgy, highly educated and decidedly cheaper than its SF counterpart. I’ve been spending time over there, sucking up the positive vibes, in tune with the raw potential that’s in the process of being transformed.

As Oakland becomes San Francisco as Brooklyn is to New York, I think we’ll see a lot more innovation and coworking spaces pop up. At the moment, there really isn’t much for freelancers and entrepreneur types, but I do happen to know of several interesting spaces and movements that are in the midst of generating the up and coming status quo in the East Bay.

For example, a group of self-assigned “hackers” have created a workspace unlike anything I’ve ever seen where they are melding the likes of computer hacking, bio-hacking and culture hacking with maker space tools and ideas. This space is community owned by the members who meet weekly to discuss how to best utilize the space. Currently, the space has a bunch of computers, a 3D printer and some biological experiments among other things.

I also know of a group who is aiming to open HUB Berkeley in summer of 2013, with pilots happening as early as spring of 2013.

And lastly, NextSpace will be opening it’s 7th coworking space in downtown Berkeley early next year where over 200 startups, professionals and creatives can accelerate serendipity with all of the necessary fixings including dedicated desks and office space, conference rooms, speedy wifi and all the caffeine one could ever want.

You took 10 entrepreneurs to Bali this past August as part of Startup Abroad – tell us more about the experience and the role remote coliving/coworking plays in creativity and connecting.

Remote work is the future for many professionals. As technology improves and internet becomes more accessible everywhere, our need to be consistently in the same environment every single day will lose their charm and necessity.

A snapshot of the villa from Startup Abroad 2012

 Location independent entrepreneurs happen to be the first group to successfully roam the globe while remaining productive. And services like Airbnb are making it possible to find new digs with all of the comforts of home (including pots and pans) anywhere in the world. When you know that you can plug in and instantly have community, location becomes who you are surrounded by.

Startup Abroad was an experiment into the future of work with entrepreneurs who wanted to have an experience working overseas, living together, coworking and eating meals with one another. The idea was that we’d be more innovative, motivated and connected if we could help each other grow in an environment which removed us from the comforts of our everyday realities.

There were no pre-scripted outcomes or assumptions. The result was a highly connected group of 10 people who became great friends and consider one another nearly family now. Even though every single one of us are stoked on the ways we intend to contribute to the world, the central focus ended up being one another as much as it was on work.


Yoga after a sunrise hike in Bali

Here we were in this self-reflective place (Ubud, Bali) secluded amongst rice fields – this helped many of us get values in line with our actions and offered a break for us to recognize how important the feeling of true connectedness is in our lives.

Being creative comes from allowing your mind to wander without limits and be unrestricted, so an environment like Startup Abroad offers the right context to think, create, plan and become a more focused entrepreneur. I’d say we accomplished that!

About our Curator // Kate Kendall is the founder and CEO of The Fetch, a community where professionals can discover and share what’s happening in their city. Before this, Kate led product, content and digital at magazine companies, handled outreach for new startups and organised too many communities and events to mention. Follow her on Twitter at @katekendall.

Interview: Sydney local, Lauren Anderson — December 9, 2012

Interview: Sydney local, Lauren Anderson

For our last Sydney Local Profile of 2012, Solange Francois from the Fetch Community Ambassador Team posed some questions to Lauren Anderson of Collaborative Consumption.  

Name: Lauren Anderson
Twitter handle: @l__anderson 
Blogs at:
Works: Community Director at Collaborative Consumption Hub

Tell us in a few words what collaborative consumption is about:
Collaborative consumption describes the reinvention of really old market behaviours – such as bartering, swapping, lending, renting and sharing – that have been supercharged through social, mobile and location-based technologies to enable us to share and exchange all kinds of assets, in ways and on a scale that have never been possible before this time. Our work over the last 2.5 years has been to spread the idea of this socio-economic shift, connect the entrepreneurs building companies based on these principles and grow the community of people passionate about these new ways of getting access to the things we need.

What were you doing before you got involved in the movement?
I was working as communications manager of a national architectural practice, but had spent most of my spare time in the two years leading up to this new role exploring the social innovation space and volunteering with a range of social change organisations such as the Brightest Young Minds Foundation, Australian Social Innovation Exchange and Project Australia. It was these organisations that really sparked my passion for social change.

How did you finally get involved?
I was fortunate enough to meet Rachel Botsman (founder of the collaborative consumption movement) through my involvement with the Brightest Young Minds Foundation. When I heard her describe this cultural shift that was the foundation of her first book, ‘What’s Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption’, I was absolutely hooked by its potential and when Rachel asked me to join with her and grow the movement around the launch of the book, I couldn’t refuse! It has been such an incredible, eye-opening and life-changing experience so far, and I am so grateful to be on this path.

What makes you jump out of bed every day?

I am constantly inspired by innovative ideas that really question the way we live our life and that make it easier for us to be more conscious citizens, and also the role that technology has to play in that.

From businesses like GoGet car share, to services such as FoodConnect and ideas such as co-working and Airbnb peer-to-peer accommodation, we are getting connected back to what’s important – our community and our environment.

What are other issues that you are passionate about?
I am really passionate about the role women play in business and government, and want to make a contribution to encouraging more women’s voices to be heard – which is both about creating the opportunities within our current society and also doing more to encourage women to get involved in the first place.

Who inspires you?
I am inspired by women like Jacqueline Novogratz, who founded Acumen Fund, an investment fund focused on social innovation solutions in emerging markets. I’m also inspired by Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook) and the commitment she shows not only to being a stellar career person, but also living a balanced life with her family.

Have there been challenges along the way in your career? How did you overcome them?

The biggest challenge I have faced personally is giving myself permission to dream big enough and then acting upon those dreams.

I think it’s a rare thing for Australians to truly believe anything is possible, and while there are some incredible high achievers in this country, we generally doubt ourselves more than believe in ourselves. Having exposure to some incredible entrepreneurs overseas and surrounding myself with highly creative people helps me to dream bigger and make better things happen!

What books are you currently reading?
I have slowly been trying to get my way through the amazing reading list of 99 Best Business Books’ on The Personal MBA’s site, and am currently finishing ‘Influence’ by Robert Cialdini, ‘Where Good Ideas Come From’ by Steven Johnson and Katie Couric’s ‘The Best Advice I Ever Got’. Reading these is interspersed with me watching The West Wing series for the first time!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with The Fetch, Lauren!

About our Ambassador // This article was contributed by Community Ambassador Solange Francois. She is a marketer and lover of creativity, great words, people and ads and has a passion for psychology and lifelong learning. You can connect with Solange through her blog or on Twitter @solangefrancois

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