Guest article by Janet Lee
Online shopping has become normal in this ever-growing digital age. It’s usually corporate businesses that drive products through digital marketplaces, attracting consumers through convenience. But where is our money going when we make purchases from large companies? This was the problematic question Thad Beversdorf dissected and acted upon. He’s the CEO of Spendindie, an online marketplace founded and based in Austin that exclusively supports independent businesses.
Launched during the 2018 SXSW Festival, where Spendindie was the presenting sponsor of SXSW Marketplace, the Austin business not only provides a convenient way to shop local, but opportunities to get paid to promote and discover local products.
With a mission to “create a convenient and engaging way for people to make more conscious spending choices,” Spendindie wants to change the way people spend, ultimately fueling a stronger community and economy.
Years in Financial Industry Paves Way for New Movement
Having worked in the financial industry for more than 13 years, specifically in trading and banking, Beversdorf gained knowledge and insight into how markets operate. He found that most of the revenue generated from large corporations is delivered to shareholders, instead of invested back into the economy.
“I saw firsthand how large institutional trading groups push corporations to make short-sighted decisions that benefit shareholders, often at a cost to everyone else,” he told me.
Consumers often don’t understand these mechanisms, so Beversdorf built a convenient and engaging way for them to make more meaningful choices. Finding that consumers actually have significantly more power than shareholders, he sought to take advantage of this by creating an online community where they could not only purchase local products, but be active participants of economic growth.
“If consumers shifted just an additional five percent of their current spending to independent businesses, it would force corporations to act more responsibly,” stated Beversdorf.
He knew it wasn’t just about having an economic objective–it was about aligning personal values with consumers who would be the true driving force and heart behind bettering our economy when it comes to spending. It’s vital that people are provided transparency in terms of where their business and money goes. And it was this idea that was key while building Spendindie.
Personable and Collective Platform
During the development stages of the site, the team behind Spendindie focused on creating a personable and participatory online space. The marketplace features various local products for purchase, from food to accessories to fitness. Each product includes information on its source and displays “indie icons” that indicate the cause(s) it supports. These icons highlight eco- and pet-friendliness, female leaders/entrepreneurs, and B-Corp certification. And to all the ladies out there, Spendindie sets aside two percent of revenue, allocating it to fund female-led startups.
In addition to purchasing conscientious products, people can earn money by discovering and promoting local products on the platform. Beversdorf describes this as “value creation” and a collective way to compete with big corporations. Moreover, it allows individuals to be involved in a movement they believe in by helping expand the marketplace.
“It struck me that I could incentivize people to help us compete with the large marketing budgets of the big brands, by paying them to engage in a movement they already believe in,” he explained. “Why shouldn’t I pay someone for creating monetary value?”
Austin as the Right Landscape
Through these initiatives, Beversdorf is striving to create a network of communities across the country. And what better city to start in than Austin? With our appreciation for local and independent businesses, Austin was an ideal place and community to launch this market.
“Austinites understand the power and importance of community, and that there is a struggle between communities and corporates,” explained Beversdorf. “Why not open up Austin’s local business community to other local communities and vice versa?”
As Spendindie expands across the country, it hopes to promote the honest and healthy economic model Austin carries, and create a system of commerce that can compete with big corporations.
We live in a digital age where we’re not only consumers, but participants. There are a plethora of online platforms that grant us the ability to create and exchange information. Spendindie isn’t a platform solely for local spending–it’s a platform to be an active participant with local values.
As Beversdorf put it, “The economy is a reflection of our spending and our spending should be reflection of us.”
Local Austin Businesses on Spendindie
With that said, here are some local Austin businesses that are currently part of Spendindie. They might be just around the corner from you!
An environmentally proactive company that focuses on producing transparent food and supplement products. Fitppl works towards reducing plastic pollution by providing innovative packaging and active cleanups.
2/ Cuvee Coffee
Craft coffee roaster and pioneer of nitro cold brew. Cuvvee has a coffee bar on East Sixth Street that serves coffee, cold brew, espresso, and beer. If you roll through between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. on a weekday, pints are $4.
3/ Latika Body Essentials
All-natural skincare and bath products (bath bombs, lip balms, creams, bar soaps) run by a husband and wife duo. All of Latika’s products are handmade in Austin, and SLS and paraben free.
➡ Keep reading: Latika Body Essentials Is Lathering Austin, Naturally
For more information, visit Spendindie’s website.
@theAustinot wants to know:
Share an example of an Austin business you support, instead of going to a big box store.
Janet Lee is a freelance writer and film enthusiast originally from Southern California. Visit her website.
We always have unique content on the Austinot, and we love to give things away. You know, like CDs, event tickets and other cool stuff. We only send out our Best of the Austinot newsletter two times/month. It’s where we give you a recap of our best articles and give stuff away. Interested? Subscribe to Best of the Austinot here!