A firsthand experience with a mysterious Craigslist seller served as fuel for Kansas City-listed startup Swappa’s latest innovation of the local marketplace: Swappa Local.
“I exchanged money with the seller, we both drove off, leaving the parking lot at the same time,” recalled Ben Edwards, Swappa founder and CEO. “We ended up stopped at the same stoplight a block away. While we’re waiting on the red light, the seller is looking over nervous. … Finally he just can’t take it anymore. He slams on the gas, peels out through a red light.”
Edwards later learned he’d bought a stolen phone that couldn’t be activated and wasted valuable time and hard-earned money, he said.
Through Swappa Local — which officially launched June 18 — customer ripoffs are what’s left inactive; and everybody wins, he noted, detailing the way buyers and sellers can browse Swappa for used personal tech devices.
“Once a seller is approved to list their product on Swappa Local and a potential buyer in the market selects the product to purchase, a safe and public meeting spot is clearly displayed on the site, as chosen by the seller and approved by Swappa,” the company detailed in a release that highlighted its “no junk” policy.
Quality first, Swappa users are required to enter their device’s electronic serial number and submit verification photos.
“Having to sort through kind of a junkyard of listings … and have various levels of and attempts of fraud — its that sort of thing that [was] kind of a final straw [for me],” Edwards said.
Swappa Local aims to leverage the 9-year-old startup’s reputation in the eCommerce space and bring it to the local level, popping crucial pain points in consumer-to-consumer sales, Edwards elaborated.
“[Junk listings are] allowed on pretty much every other market place on the planet. Sometimes it’s not disclosed. You’re really kind of rolling the dice,” he said, adding Swappa is quick to enforce its policy.
Focused on cities, Swappa Local rolled out in four additional areas — Orange County, California; Dallas/Fort Worth; Minneapolis/St.Paul; and Austin.
Locations for the launch of Swappa Local were determined by the company’s goal to establish thriving, local marketplaces in cities with similar characteristics, Edwards detailed.
Completely bootstrapped, Swappa put $90 million into sellers pockets in 2018, Edwards revealed. The company stuffed sellers wallets with $70 million in 2017 and hopes to generate cash payouts in excess of $120 million in 2019.
“We’re still such a small player compared to, you know, somebody like eBay or that sort of thing, but we have been able to carve out a good niche by focusing on providing more trustworthy marketplace,” he added.