Hey everyone. I am looking for someone in Toronto who has raised VC/angel investment and is currently running their startup. I would love to meet for coffee to pick your brain, learn about how you went about the process and what you learned from it. ... See MoreSee Less
I have been curiously following the story of "OfferUp" - an online marketplace based out of Seattle which allows people to buy/sell stuff locally. Last year alone, it had 14 million app downloads, and this year they project to do $14 billion in GMV. They launched originally in 2012 and didn't really see any traction initially. They don't even own the app name "OfferUp", and have about a 100k likes on Facebook. How in the world did they get on this rocket growth path ? I tried searching for that elusive "growth hack" which they did. All my research has led me to conclude that while one can point to many good decisions which they made in terms of product + growth, but there is no smoking gun, aha strategy fuelling that growth. It just kind of happened!
This makes me wonder if entrepreneurs "thinking big" should really aim to create viable small businesses as their primary goal - beyond that it is pure dumb luck. There is no book, no strategy, no workshop, no event, no magic charm which can predict or propel a startup to "unicorn-ism". It is an extremely rare, random event and you can't pitch/prepare/plan for that. Linking to an article here from OfferUp's investor on how to think about classifying your marketplace idea in general: ... See MoreSee Less
A founder proudly told me yesterday that “Liquidity is not a problem. 71 people applied to a job within 24 hours!” I replied, “That sucks… 70 out of 71 of your users had a bad experience." ———– This...
Varun MathurI guess the more interesting question is what happened up till that point. They have well-funded competitors, but still OfferUp is at least 4x-5x bigger than them. What made OfferUp pull apart from the list.. They claim to not be doing paid user acquisition.
Their investor wrote that OfferUp's network effects, retention and repeat engagement were very high without going into specifics for good reason. acrowdedspace.com/post/133550996882/offerup-series-a
This is what I think worked for them:
- Focused on a very specific niche initially - baby stuff...strollers and other items which people used briefly and wanted to get rid of in their neighborhood. This got local blogs run by moms talking about them.
- Partnered with local merchants.
- They had a nice, clean UI and a catchy name from the get go.
- Lowered the barrier of entry for anybody and increased trust on the system to become a seller by simply uploading a pic of their drivers license.
Sure, good ideas, but no clear indication on what in particular propelled them to where they are. They are in a position to build on that and go on to join the ranks of Uber, Airbnb in next few years. If anybody can point to a specific growth hack OfferUp did, I promise to follow you on Twitter for eternity... but this has been the biggest growth mystery to me leading me to conclude there wasn't any golden nugget of a strategy...it just happened!
9 hours ago
Julien SmithIt makes sense to focus on baby things - a teammate of mine used to work in baby clothes and it's expensive and they change the clothes so fast. From there with some liquidity you can progressively grow what the sweet spot is until the whole thing is working.
8 hours ago · 3
Salar AliOfferUp boasts no paid user acquisition. That's a big say, and here's why. Wallapop, an app that is very much a competitor of OfferUp, Poshmark, Letgo, Close5 and the tons of other 'new-founded' classifieds apps, markets and designs it's product towards the people it expects to use it. (take a look at their website background, for example) If you looked into OfferUp's starting stages, you'll find videos of the founders on a sofa talking to a camcorder for an interview. From their product design to branding, does any of it scream the target demographic that its competitors do? They instead focused on growing fast, no doubt, but also in a non-forceful way. Like Varun noted, their engagement model is working for them. Wallapop, on the other hand, is spending millions on advertising. Their commercials run in the US almost every day. Ginormous funding rounds help, but paying attention to the small things matter. I know this to be true, because I founded a classifieds app too. We raised a hefty seed round for just some 20yos with mockups and an idea, and ultimately, we couldn't keep up with Wallapop, and ultimately, not even with the near-unicorn status OfferUp.
8 hours ago · 1
Arpit Guglanihaving worked for a well funded competitor and seen how tough it is to acquire and retain users while maintaining liquidity in a two sided market, I find their claim of no paid user acquisition very hard to digest.
5 hours ago · 3
Varun MathurBy the law of "if it hasn't been yapped about on the Internet, it doesn't exist" :) Perhaps I haven't searched well enough - but I am not able to find one tweet/yap about OfferUp doing any sort of paid user acquisition. There is no known growth hack, no known paid user acquisition --- yet, things just mysteriously worked out for them. Plain luck and "product just works" looks like the most likely culprit at this point.
If you're looking to increase the effectiveness of your ads on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and reduce your CAC, consider using cinemagraphs instead of still photos. A new A/B test from Microsoft Canada tells the story. ... See MoreSee Less
The SaaS DNA Project provides extensive research and education from SaaS professionals who think about these respective subject areas more than anyone else out there. You can utilize the research and data to ensure you don't need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to building your SaaS or subscript…
Morning everyone, We still have a few spots left for the #StartupMentalHealth workshop we're holding for mental health week next Tuesday. I know most of us in the community can relate to the topic. As always, for any specific inquiries please feel free to PM me :) ... See MoreSee Less
Working at a startup or a small size company is awesome! You have power and control but you also have more responsibilities. The word burnout is commonly used among the community but do we really know what the signs and symptoms of emotional distress are? Not feeling well, emotionally, is the number…
Hi all, we're recording a very special edition podcast on startups and mental health tomorrow as part of CMHA Mental Health Week next week. We have one spot still left open and are looking for a founder willing to speak about the internal struggle that can accompany and burden building a business, as well as the needs of all founders to look after the mental needs of their employees.
This is a topic close to my heart (and head). Hit me with a message if you can be downtown Toronto tomorrow afternoon as part of a dope pod crew. ... See MoreSee Less
Rob KenediSo important!! A must listen when it's baked.
1 day ago
Elena BeveridgeI'm on the young professionals board with CAMH and have my own experience with this as a budding entrepreneur. Happy to help you however I can.
1 day ago · 1
Douglas SoltysHi everyone, totally overwhelmed by the number of public and private messages being sent my way with offers to participate and share personal stories. This is great. I think we're good for tomorrow's podcast recording, but I'm going to reach out to everyone individually to see if there's more that we can do. This isn't just a one-off for us.
Varun Mathursigned up to Globe and Mail -- this is the first time I have ever paid to read a newspaper online. I am usually scavenging for stories on the WSJ, NYTimes, Globe, The Star and others...and everyday I tell myself, thanks but I would rather read something else than pay.
1 day ago
Anthony ReinhartYour willingness to pay for this particular piece might be good intel for Sean Silcoff to take back to the Globe's braintrust.
Sean SilcoffThink of it as a pay door, not a paywall. There's an opening and we'd love to have you come inside. How come nobody complains about having to pay to see the latest Star Wars movie? That was content, and it was behind the paywall, er, pay velvet rope.
Aran HamiltonCharging people (even startups!) for things that have a production cost and are of value is only logical. Not one entrepreneur says to themselves "Gas stations are a paywall, I should get to drive my car for free." or "Grocery store checkouts are a paywall, I should be allowed to eat whatever I want free."
Zaheer MeraliThe issue around paywalls is how poorly they've been implemented. As a concept, they're perfectly logical as Aran said above. In practice they seem to violate every principal of great customer service and UX design - eg: multiple complex steps to complete a transaction, antiquated charging models, and so on. Would be great to see a publisher think in an innovative way about how to serve a real customer need - i.e., easy simple micropayments for articles they want to share with their network - should be a 1-click transaction using an existing payment gateway
Matt BurnsIt's amazing how many fellow entrepreneurs that I have worked with (including myself) came from a poker background
2 days ago · 4
Ben ZifkinThis is great. I often use poker as an analogy for business. Mostly for the points you mentioned but also because it taught me when to get aggressive. Generally people wait until the risk goes down or they are likely to 'win'. Poker teaches you that all you really need is to be just little more likely than someone else before you can start applying pressure. No need to wait until your royal flush, you should start to throw your weight around when you just begin to have a bit of an edge over everyone else.
Amir GhafouriIt shocks me how ignorant many people are of the distinction between expected value and outcome. Standard deviation is a concept essential to so many aspects of life, and certainly business. Some people refuse to accept that the quality of a process/performance will not always reflect accurately in the result. Hence, they become too high when things are well and too low when things are not. Arbitraging any subsequent mistakes in assessment/pricing is at the core of any form of investing/market participation (be it at the casino or the NYSE)