Another new thing: Peer to Peer Marketplaces

Interesting to note from below the point that email is being underused….that it is more intimate….get’s more results than social media in some circumstances…

Peer-to-peer (P2P) marketplaces have put the “hot in hot” for the startup scene this year at the South By Southwest Interactive conference. Spurred on by the success of Airbnb—the grand master of so-called collaborative consumption sites—venture capitalists want to make money while they reinvent market behavior. The hype was on full display today at a SXSWI panel today in Austin, Texas, where one of the cofounders of Airbnb talked about the scaling of sharing with the founders of the sites Task Rabbit and thredUP. To succeed in this space, the panelists agreed on some key points—focus on a unique product and educate your community. But here’s one somewhat counterintuitive notion: don’t rely on social media for conversations, instead go old school with email. The panelists called email much “more intimate,” saying if you really like something and send an email proclaiming how great your find was, the person getting that note tends to trust the suggestion more. For Leah Busque, the founder and CEO of TaskRabbit—a site that connects people with chores and task with those who will complete them for a fee—developing the business took time. Her own brood of worker rabbits sat pat in Boston and San Francisco for 20 months working on the product, getting it to where it is today—in eight cities on a zip code-by-zip code basis, with expansion plans this year. Busque said she and her team waited and tried something not seen in other attempts at collaborative consumption. The new thinking was about what if? What would happen on the ground in individual neighborhoods if they just tossed out the platform? Every time one of her rabbits posted a service, they were going to get bids and all that activity could all get potentially get very messy. Busque methodically measured the activity at the neighborhood level, and soon enough she said TaskRabbit had increased the trust levels in the homes of the towns they’d arrived in. “It just snowballed, and the company growth rates grew even faster,” said Busque, adding that 75 percent of TaskRabbit’s activity now comes from word of mouth and public relations. James Reinhart, a co-founder and the chief executive of thredUP, said a big issue for P2P sites is how to differentiate what they do. Just this month, thredUP announced it was switching from being a site that helped parents swap childrens’ clothes to being a site that sold kids garments on consignment. Reinhart said he learned early that there are all kinds of communities out there in the P2P-universe. Each one of them is based in some kind of consumer passion and mutual, collaborative trust among consumers. The key to building a successful company is keeping laser sharp focus on an existing unique consumer need, and maintaining that focus. “We didn’t seek out a community that was passionate about swapping books. Instead, we focused on a little problem for families—kids clothing,” he said. “If people sense that your site is trying to be a bunch of different things, it dilutes the power of the hue in your unique space,” Reinhart said. Read more: http://www.portfolio.com/business-news/2012/03/13/peer-to-peer-marketplaces-catch-fire-at-sxsw#ixzz1pC3xM8oN

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About maricopasbdc
Director of Maricopa Community Colleges SBDC, serving Maricopa County small businesses with free technical assistance, and seminars, training and other services.

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