YC posted a list of top alumni companies by valuation, as of October 2018. You can see the full list at https://ycombinator.com/topcompanies.

Here’s a Q&A with Max Rhodes, cofounder of Faire, one of the companies featured on the list.


What does Faire do?

Faire helps retailers discover and try thousands of unique items risk-free.

How many employees does Faire have?

60

How many founders?

3

What is your most impressive recent product milestone?

We now have 10,000 retailers ordering on the platform. That’s more stores than Walgreens.

What is the larger impact / societal impact of your product in the space you work within?

Our mission is to empower entrepreneurs to chase their dreams. We believe entrepreneurship is a calling, and too many would-be entrepreneurs are stuck in jobs they hate because they think it’s too hard and too risky to make the leap. We make it easier and take a lot of the risk out of starting and running a business for both sides of our marketplace.

What’s an interesting element of Faire’s company culture?

We are building our engineering team out of Waterloo, Canada.

Looking back, what motivated you to start Faire?

The opportunity to help small business owners succeed.

Is what you’re working on now the original idea or did you pivot?

It’s the original idea.

Were there moments where you thought the company might die? Describe one of those and anything you learned from it.

We have been very fortunate to never really have had one of these moments.

What was a particularly important insight you had about your market that made your product work?

Our big breakthrough was understanding that the fundamental challenge a retailer faces is inventory risk. Traditionally, retailers have been caught in a Catch 22 where their customers want to see new products, but new products are inherently much riskier for a retailer to bring in because it’s hard to know how they will perform. We take all the risk out of buying for the retailer, allowing them to return any products that don’t sell within 60 days.

What’s one piece of advice you’d share with a young founder?

Talk to customers. I’ve thought about getting it tattooed on my arm as a reminder. Every time I get blocked or can’t figure out how to solve a problem, the solution inevitably comes from a conversation with customers.