Hoping To Ride The Crowdfunding Wave, Celery Lets Sellers Accept Pre-Orders, Charge When Products Ready To Ship

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Airbrite, a Y Combinator-backed e-commerce startup, is debuting its first product today called Celery (its name a play on the world “sell”). Celery is designed to be a “pre-commerce” store builder – or, in other words, it allows anyone to start selling ahead of having a product to ship. That means sellers can start taking credit cards now, then charge when their product is ready to launch. And in case you couldn’t figure it out by that description, Airbrite is hoping the product will be a hit with those raising funds using crowdfunding.

In fact, says Airbrite co-founder Chris Tsai, the company has already seen some traction with crowdfunders during its private beta, which rolled out to hundreds of users this March. But, he clarifies, Celery isn’t just designed for those merchants – it’s for anyone in any business who needs to enable pre-commerce on any platform.

Some of its early customers include Kickstarter crowdfunder the3doodler.com, e-commerce site dagnedover.com, connected hardware maker breathometer.com, and onesmall.biz.

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Tsai says the product itself was inspired by the shift the team saw happening in commerce – that sellers want to establish more personal connections with buyers, and vice versa. But to do so, they need tools that give them more flexibility. “E-commerce is kind of like  blogging was five years ago. It was really challenging to get a good CMS up without a serious backend developer, then came things like Tumblr and Blogger which made it really easy for anybody to get a blog up and running,” Tsai explains.

“It’s really hard today to get an e-commerce storefront that flexible and available anywhere,” he continues. “We want to make it easy to embed an e-commerce touchpoint wherever you are – whether it’s your website, your mobile app, on Facebook, or even on Google Glass.”

In addition to Tsai, who previously led mobile commerce initiatives for Groupon overseas, Celery’s founding team includes Brian Nguyen, whose background is in social commerce, and Peter Shih, a key developer on LinkedIn’s iPhone development team, who also worked at Foursquare. Their diversity of experience with social, commerce, and multiple platforms helps to inform their decisions as to how to proceed with Celery.

During their time in Y Combinator, the company was building its API and e-commerce platform, though originally with more emphasis on their support for mobile.

Celery is actually built on top of Stripe, which makes it similar to newly launched MoonClerk, another e-commerce startup whose focus is on one-time and recurring payments. But it also competes in the broader e-commerce space with giants like PayPal and Google, as well as startups aiming to simplify the experience including RibbonChirpifySoldsieSellfyGumroad, and more.

Stripe enables Celery’s flexible payment processing, but Celery’s platform also allows for pre-order management, pre-order customer service, tracking via analytics, plus support for coupons, emails to customers, and more – the whole checkout layer on top of payments.

The company charges a 2 percent commission on transactions, in addition to Stripe’s 2.9 percent + $0.30 payment processing fees.

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In the future, Airbrite will introduce support for volume and bulk pricing for larger sellers, for pre-orders via Celery, and for general e-commerce, the company offers an open API.

Based in San Francisco, Celery’s team of five has seed funding from YC and SV Angel, but declined to disclose additional investments, only stating that it’s in a “healthy” place right now, and is not looking to raise.

Interested users can sign up for Celery here.