It started with speaker stands. Steve Conine and Niraj Shah launched RacksandStands.com in 2002, when they were 28 and 29, respectively, and when the concept of buying things on the internet was just getting started.
The speaker stands sold well—well enough for Conine and Shah to launch another site, and another, and another, using the same formula of product-specific sites. They soon launched 250 separate websites, for niche topics like EveryCuckooClock.com, TheWokStore.com, and AllBakersRacks.com. Within a decade, the system they had built amassed $500 million in revenue per year (or about $2 million per year per site).
“We started thinking long term,” Conine says. While their strategy was successful, they saw a clear advantage in launching a destination site—a place like Amazon. Consumers would know to visit the site to begin their shopping journey, rather than land there through search engines and ads. So Conine and Shah hired a branding agency and rolled their dozens of websites into one.