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What is OfferUp?
OfferUp makes selling as easy as taking and sharing a photo. So our big belief is, though there are plenty of ways that people can buy and sell online today, a lot of them are not really a mobile first approach. And an example of that is, you know, one in four homes in America that have two car garages can’t park in their garage, one in ten of us now rent storage units. So when you look at things like this and the amount of stuff that’s sitting, you often question why is it sitting? My big belief is it sits is because it’s very cumbersome and very tough to basically make those items discoverable all the way to the point of dealing with the transaction and buying something, so we look at the entire process of buying and selling and we say it’s full of friction based on existing methods and we say that these devices really break down a lot of that friction. An example of that is if you wanted to post something on say Craigslist today it would take you fifteen minutes, if you want to post on OfferUp it would take you thirty seconds. So again we really think there is tremendous opportunity and we’re really a mobile first local commerce company specifically focused on moms.

What kind of traction has OfferUp seen since launch?
Every single minute there’s a new conversation happening on OfferUp within 15 miles of where we’re sitting in Bellevue. We have a lot of activity in terms of women that are on there. In the last few months we’ve had over 20,000 moms all within fifteen miles of where we’re sitting now using OfferUp. I’d say what’s really interesting to see is the average mom will come in and post something at least six times. It’s really exciting to see also when somebody posts, how fast they’re posting. So we have a store down the street actually, for example, she signed up and her first day she posted 65 items and she did it in less than an hour and a half. So I think the speed and the velocity in which people are posting continues to go up.

What do you know now that you wish you would have known when you started?
I had a sense building marketplaces was tough, and it is; I think it always takes longer and fortunately I’ve done a startup before and so it always takes a little but longer than you think. So I think persistence and being passionate about your vision really helps and so that kind of keeps us focused on what we need to do. I’d say in general, it always takes longer.

What’s a hypothesis you’ve had that has failed and how did you respond?
Some of the challenges with local and building out local is, you know, it’s a lot easier to market broadly and get a bunch of users nationally; that’s simpler. So how do you attack and basically think about injecting a virus locally; how do you get it to spread. So, you name it, we’ve tried it. We even filled up a semi truck with a thousand balloons and went door to door in the densest neighborhood in Western Washington, Klahanie, and we did it because, again, one in four people with a two car garage can’t park in their garage. So we said, well statistically this should be just fish in a barrel, we’ll just go down the street. So we filled up the semi truck with a thousand helium balloons and went door to door for a day. It was a lot of work, helium’s expensive these days, you know, we’ve got balloons all over the place that we filled up. We still have plenty, we still have probably a thousand more of these, so if you ever want to blow up balloons…But we did it in a way to say okay, “Is this gonna drive some interest and awareness?” And what was great to see at the end of the day is that you could drive down the street in Klahanie and everywhere you looked, every door there was OfferUp branding. So from a branding perspective it worked, but in terms of conversions, actually getting people to do stuff it didn’t really produce anything. We’ve done a lot of experiments like that. We’ve done a lot of traditional, non technical experiments to see what they do and most of the time they don’t really pan out, but you don’t know unless you try.

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