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The 26th participant is

Founded by Joseph Renzi, is an online marketplace that allows people from all over the world to swap, sell, meet, and buy almost anything in a secure environment. It allows you to barter for goods and services; negotiate until you get the deal you want; and make offers to multiple ads without the risk of having to buy everything.

It creates and connects communities – both geographically and by interest. This enables you to meet like-minded people and trade within a special interest group. also has personalised features which allow users to create a list of items they want and when someone posts something on that is on your list, will suggest potential matches – increasing your chance of success.

Let us learn more about from Joseph, this is what he has to say:

How it started?
A gap was identified in the eBay net-based buy and sell model, so I set out to offer net users a unique village marketplace bartering approach. was created so that users could swap and barter with items as well as buy and sell.

How long it took before it was up and running?
The early days of the business were very challenging. I recruited a number of young people to join him, some just out of high school and some who had just finished university and soon there were 10 people working in the family home.

Four years later, and with additional funds from a government grant, is now well-placed to challenge eBay, the world’s largest online auction house.

What stage of your start-up is, stealth mode, beta mode or fully functional?
Fully functional

What is the main objective/mission behind your venture?
The main objective behind is to offer users a unique experience with online bartering and negotiation.

What services it provide for consumers or customers? provides a place for its customers to swap, sell, buy and meet in a safe environment. And it’s free!

What is unique about your venture? is a web-based system that enables users to buy, sell, swap and barter with virtually anything – products, services, events, etc. The company has patented several unique features that allow users to make multiple offers and negotiate the terms of the transaction until both parties are happy, enabling buyers to “shop around” during negotiation.

What market segment verticals you are targeting for? is targeted at everybody.

What type of customers you are targeting?
Anybody that has anything to swap or sell; or would like to buy and meet like-minded people.

What age group of people will benefit most?
Everybody can benefit from using this site, although the younger generation with less disposable income would benefit greatly as the site is free to swap, sell or buy.

How many users are using your services? currently has over 200,000 members, from over 150 countries, and growing at a rapid rate.

What sort of marketing you are using to spread the word? is predominantly marketed through online channels. We also use public relations.

How are you measuring the success of your venture? Are there any special mechanisms/tools in place to monitor the progress?
Some of the key performance indicators are:
  • Number of members (new and existing)
  • Number of advertisements
  • Number of offers
  • Number of agreements
  • Number of hits to the website
  • Cost to acquire a customer
A majority of this information is provided to us through our own reporting system (attached to our database), but we also use Google tools like Google Analytics.

What is the monetizing/revenue model? Is there any new model, which is being tried?
To ensure our financial success, we have developed multiple revenue streams, including many options to provide a recurring revenue model.
Revenue from System Usage includes:
  • Purchasing Credits
  • Membership Fees
  • User-Pays Fees (like advertising & enhancement fees)
  • Premium Services (like SMS notifications)
  • Advanced Services (escrow services, insurance, mediation services)
Revenue from other sources includes:
  • Banner Advertising
  • Commissions (on sales and through our “barter dollars”)
  • Landing Pages (where people take ownership of a Community or run a shop in SwapAce)
  • Alliances; and
  • Licensing (provides some interesting opportunities where our framework and engine can be re-branded and used by other organisations)
Which are the main competitors or major players in this market segment?
eBay, freecycle, and other online auction sites.

What are the main technologies used behind this start-up?
The main technologies include PHP and mySQL.

What has been the most easy to use, out of the box and most helpful technology?
Our internal wiki (pmwiki) for our internal intranet.

Are you using a lot of open-source tool sets for this?
  • For development we use unix (for the operating system), PHP and cakePHP (for coding), mySQL, and postgresql (for databases).
  • Internally we also use bugzilla (for tracking software development), pmwiki (for an internal intranet), trixbox (as a VoIP server) and many other products.
What is your operating environment (operating system) and what type of database you are using?
  • Unix, Windows and Mac.
  • mySQL, and postgresql and Microsoft Access.
How often do you catch up with others trying similar things and where do you catch up. Do you have dedicated communities in your city?
Try to meet up at least once a month through various networking/ small business events in Sydney.

How much money is needed upfront to start a venture?
Depends on the business venture.

What are the main barriers in general for people to start their venture in Australia.
  • Raising the capital needed to start the business
  • Building a capable and committed team
What are your thoughts on the future trends of your service and the market segment you are in?
We believe that swapping (e.g. the swapping of products and/or time) will be increasingly popular; especially for cash-poor individuals and organisations … for example, I can swap 1 hour of my time for 1 hour of your time.

Do you have any advice for people who want to start their venture?
  • Never give up
  • Don’t take no for an answer
  • Find other people who share your vision
  • Surround yourself with other people who are in the same situation as yourself
  • The government offers a lot of support – you should utilise these options
  • The measure of success is not how many times you fall over, but how many times you can pick yourself back up again
Thanks, Joseph for sharing your thoughts. We look forward to hearing from you in future on the progress of All the best for and the competition in this carnival.


Anonymous said…
This looks like a community that would be of immense help in improving my knowledge on online auctions. My dream of becoming a successful auction professional can be easily achieved only by following the path laid by the experienced users, which leads to success.

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