Earlier this month, I got to sit down with my fellow Techstars Anywhere founder, Sonia Yang, CTO and co-founder of Treet.
Treet is helping brands become more sustainable and own their second-hand resell market by helping them launch their own official secondhand marketplace. With Treet, end-users have a more unified shopping experience and brands get to earn and learn from their second-hand market.
Sonia is passionate about sustainability and the role that second-hand shopping plays. Sonia’s “entire house is furnished by Facebook marketplace.” And once she realized “how destructive and polluting the fashion industry is… [she] made a conscious decision to buy clothes only second-hand.” Second-hand shopping is so important to sustainability — 10% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide come from the fashion industry. Ultimately, Sonia left Airbnb to join up with Jake Disraeli and make a new kind of second-hand shopping experience with Treet.
As CTO of Treet, Sonia has to take on all of the technical challenges of building marketplace software.
Treet focuses on Shopify brands. This allows them to use the same Shopify API for all brands — but it’s not that simple. Each brand uses the Shopify API a little differently. Sonia explained how “one brand may store the category of an item in their tags section and another brand may store their category in like a product type field.” Sonia is working on software that covers all these scenarios. This will allow any Shopify brand to create a second-hand resell site in less than one hour using Treet.
The technical challenges of Treet are tricky but Sonia is up for the challenge. Before Treet, Sonia was an engineer on the Growth team at Airbnb. The types of technical challenges at Airbnb were a little different.
At Airbnb, “the challenges that you are facing are very specific. And it’s for one part of the product for one part of the stack.” At Treet, Sonia is responsible for every technical aspect of the product. This includes API integrations, DNS configuration, making sure the brand sites look amazing and more. It’s a shift from depth to breadth. And while Sonia tends to work longer hours in her role as a startup founder, she isn’t getting burned out. When she’s running out of steam on one area, she can easily hop over to a different type of task.
From a productivity standpoint, Sonia and Jake plan their work each week by selecting 3 Big Rocks. These are overarching themes for the week and it helps Sonia and Jake stay organized and focus. Sonia explains, if a task “doesn’t fall under those three rocks, we can put it to the next week.” With this approach, Sonia and Jake have built strong momentum — launching brands weekly.