I hope you will agree when I say that I think the online classifieds model has been ripe for innovation for some time now. It’s not that doesn’t work, it’s that it could probably work a lot better. I think the biggest problems plaguing classifieds are scam artists and dangerous opportunists just waiting for their next victim. I’m sure most online classifieds services try their utmost to protect their users and prevent their users from falling prey to scam artists, and the like, but I think more can be done.
Enter Cirqls, an online classifieds and store front marketplace that allows people to buy and sell based on trust. Cirqls leverages the social networks you are connected to in order to build trust between buyers and sellers as well as provide recommendations.
After chatting for Mark and Donovan, the founders of Cirqls, I’m convinced that they are onto something with potential. I think it’s fair to say that classifieds have been fairly anonymous up until now. In blending your online identity and social graph they are able to create some kind of measurable trust for both buyers and sellers. For once, you can finally figure out who is on the other side of the transaction and it’s not limited to your immediate connections.
While it might not be for everyone, especially those are skeptical about using their online identity for classifieds. I still think there is a massive opportunity to capture an untapped market. I often come across people are too nervous to use online classifieds because they either too afraid of being caught out by a scam or they don’t want to meet with strangers to complete the transaction. The benefit Cirqls provides in terms of reducing scams and other issues is obvious. I also think it’s in line with things on the web moving from being anonymous to being more transparent (in most cases).
Going a step further Cirqls also provides hosted store fronts for anyone looking to get online and sell products. In combining classifieds and store fronts by seeing everyone as a store front, Cirqls aims to create an efficient and personalised market place over time. It doesn’t matter whether you’re selling a once-off item or are looking to sell stock, it can all be done on one platform.
Since the startup is still in it’s early days, I think they have been able to move relatively quick. It’s one of the benefits when both founders are developers. While they are learning fast and hard about all other aspects of business, they are still able to ship code – which they’ve been doing at a frantic pace. They have also been able to benefit from making it into the first class of Seed Engine, a new tech focused business accelerator.
In closing, we all know that in the new economy trust is everything. I think Cirqls is solving a valid problem in an interesting way. I’m always pro startup and therefore I hope they succeed. I think they have the potential but they will need to move fast in order avoid the 800 pound gorillas in the room.