How BigSpool uses search data to decide which cufflinks to make - DC


Nov. 9, 2016 10:42 am

How BigSpool uses search data to decide which cufflinks to make

It all started with 3D-printed cookie cutters.
Different options seen on Wooden Accessory Co.’s Instagram page.

Different options seen on Wooden Accessory Co.'s Instagram page.


Wooden cufflinks with the outline of an atomically-correct set of lungs on them. We don’t know why you want ’em, but, thanks to a listing on Wooden Accessories Co., we know that you do, indeed, want them.

We know all this because Wooden Accessories Co. is a brand from Rockville, Md.-based BigSpool — an ecommerce startup that uses “data and rapid production to create things that people want but can’t find.” Essentially, cofounders Alice Hu and Hao Jiang (the third cofounder, Ravi Pidatala, was in another meeting) told in a recent conversation, BigSpool is “turing ecommerce on its head” (Jiang’s words) by looking for things that people want and then creating them, rather than creating something and hoping to find people who will want to buy it.

Canada ? produces 71% of the world's pure maple syrup ? #cufflinks #mapleleaf #WAC

A photo posted by Wooden Accessories Co. (@woodenaccessoriesco) on


And it all started with cookie cutters.

Using internet search data (perhaps something like “beaver cookie cutter”) and data-mining of various product listings on search engines like Google, the BigSpool team determined that there were a lot of specialty cookie cutter shapes that people were searching for but could not find. Given the capacity of rapid production technology, this seemed absurd to team BigSpool. So they got a 3D printer and started making cookie cutters.

The cookie cutter line was successful enough that it has been spun off into its own brand (much like Wooden Accessories Co.) — Cookie Cutter Kingdom.

??? ? @jennycookies #cookiecutterkingdom

A photo posted by 4000+ Cookie Cutters (@cookiecutterkingdom) on

And since the company’s launch in 2015, it has only continued to expand into new products. Unlike most retailers, BigSpool has very little upfront cost and doesn’t hold inventory. They only make the items that people buy, using the 30 3D printers and various laser cutters BigSpool has in its Rockville HQ. According to Hu, the company has done $500,000 in top line revenue since July 2015.

What comes next? According to Hu and Jiang, 2017 will be all about aggressive expansion. Recently, custom corporate gifting has become a bigger thing for BigSpool — think cufflinks or keychains or coasters with a company logo. Traditionally, ordering something custom has been fairly expensive and only available when you order large quantities, but not with BigSpool. When you only make what people want to buy, custom is easy — and, Hu said, it’s a very popular option among their customers.

So here’s the question — what kind of custom cufflinks would you create?


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