Myti Creates an Online Marketplace for Local Businesses

Source: Burlington Free Press

A Burlington startup is taking on Amazon in an effort to keep the millions of dollars Vermonters spend with the online giant in the local economy instead.

Myti (pronounced “mighty”), a VTTA member, is providing Chittenden County businesses with an online platform to sell their goods, and then is delivering those orders to customers using electric vehicles − including a Tesla Model 3 and a Tesla Model Y. The website launched on June 28.

Located on the Hula Lakeside co-working campus in Burlington, Myti has 11 employees, including Bill Calfee, founder and chief visionary officer. Calfee said the idea for the business came to him when he returned to Vermont in the summer of 2018 after being away for years. Growing up, Calfee split his time between Washington, D.C., and Dorset, Vermont.

Calfee spent the eight years prior to returning to Vermont living on a sailboat with his wife and young daughter, wandering between the Bahamas and Maine, and crossing the Pacific Ocean to spend two-and-a-half years in French Polynesia. Calfee is a serial entrepreneur, having built and sold two businesses in Vermont, one dealing with water quality issues, and the other with making buildings more energy efficient and healthier to work in.

After he returned to Vermont, Calfee spent a year figuring out what to do next. He said it was the sense of community he always felt in Vermont that brought him back, and as he looked around Burlington, where he had settled, he was concerned that feeling was being threatened by businesses like Amazon.

“I grew up in a small town and shopped at all my local stores,” Calfee said. “I was just really struck by how people were so busy and how they were not shopping locally. Amazon had created this. It’s a brilliant business model, but that brilliant business model was sucking the life out of all these communities, like the small one I grew up in, as well as a bigger one here in Burlington.”

By analyzing Vermont sales tax revenues, Calfee said he determined that Vermonters are spending about $450 million a year with Amazon.

“So imagine if that money stayed in our communities and what impact that could have,” he said.

Myti currently has 18 stores available on its platform, including Homeport, Kiss the Cook and Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel.

“We charge stores a 10% fee on all orders, which includes credit card processing, and we waive the fee for the first 90 days the store is on the platform,” Calfee said. “The idea is to let them try it before they start paying for it.”

Orders are picked up from shops twice a week and delivered to customers three times a week, according to Brooke Isabelle, Myti’s shopkeeper care specialist.

“We deliver to Chittenden County and plan on expanding our delivery range and addition of shops to include Washington County in early 2024,” Isabelle said.

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