Calvin Young and Noah Ready-Campbell left Google in 2011 shortly after being there less than a year, ready to start their own business. So they did — about four times. First they tried an online coffee delivery service, then a news service and finally a payment service.
“There just wasn’t a market for those other ideas,” Ready-Campbell said. Merchants, for example, simply didn’t take to their payment system.
Like young writers told to focus on what they know, Young, an engineer, and Ready-Campbell, from an entrepreneurial family, turned to their own habits. They both grew up in families where money was tight, so they bought and wore second-hand clothes. That need became Twice, an online marketplace for second-hand clothes.
Launched in 2012 from a loft in Oakland, it was clear from the outset that the partners were onto something. Their first order came in while they were still testing their sales and transaction system. Within a couple of years, they moved to San Francisco, outgrew the three operating locations in the Mission, and are now moving into a 25,000 square-foot warehouse at 350 Treat Ave.
“We really wanted to stay in the Mission because I really like the neighborhood,” Ready-Campbell said. “I love Dear Mom, I like the coffee shops around here, I just like the vibe.”
They aren’t alone. Tech companies lease 22 percent of the office spaces in San Francisco, a 40 percent increase since 2010, according to a report by brokerage firm CBRE. Most of the companies are located in SOMA, but the Mission has its share, including CrowdFlower on Mission and 17th and SoundCloud on Treat and 18th. Recently, Smartphone manufacturer HTC has also been checking out leasing a building on 18th Street and Google is looking at a place on 16th and Alabama.
The new office space for Twice, formerly an auto body shop, will house all of the company’s operations.
As they do elsewhere now, they will receive the product at the warehouse, inspect it, make an offer and then photograph it and upload the photo to their website.
The product, which is all name-brand women’s clothing, is stored until it is sold. To manage its operations, Twice employs 140 people, half of whom live in San Francisco and many in the Mission, according to Ready-Campbell.
While they considered keeping an office in San Francisco and moving the warehouse elsewhere, they decided to “keep everyone together,” even if it costs two-thirds more, Ready-Campbell said.
As of now, those costs should not be a problem. In January, Twice received $23 million from investors.
The young partners credit their time at Google for helping with the business side. While there, Ready-Campbell worked as a project manager. The entrepreneur bug, he said, comes from his father who owned businesses in Vermont. Young, an engineer, said his first ventures into business began in the second grade with yard sales in Virginia.
“I think that experience probably contributed to why I wanted to start a company like Twice,” Young said. “I’ve just always been a huge fan of reusing, recyling and repurchasing.”
Ready-Campbell said he’s learned a lot in the past three years since he left Google. “I feel like a little kid or something. Learning how to talk, learning how to walk and I don’t know. It’s a very intense learning period. Most any first-time entrepreneur will tell you that.”