Grab Deals from Nearby Neighbors with Grabio | Street Fight

Grab Deals from Nearby Neighbors with Grabio

Grab Deals from Nearby Neighbors with Grabio

I spent some time recently with Goshi (formerly MapDing), discussing their evolution from mobile-geo-marketplace into a more refined social experience, where users leave the digital world and meet face to face when buying or selling their wares. Co-founder Jack Eisenberg said of his product at the time, “we are a marketplace much more about discovery and social connections, as opposed to a simple buyer-seller marketplace.”

It was then I also mentioned Grabio in passing, a company just coming out of the gates in Chicago to compete in the white hot geo-social-shopping marketplace. Grabio co-founder Horatiu Boeriu, one of four on the team, splits his time between the Windy City and New York “as we would like to be close to both the invigorating New York City tech scene, and also the fast growing startup culture in Chicago.”

Now as the company prepares for release 2.0 in mid September, just about seven months after they began work on the first version, Street Fight thought it a good time to see what’s around the corner and whether it’s worth the grab. Here’s the I/O. (Disclosure: I advise a startup called Urgnt.ly.)

Horatiu Boeriu

So let’s start with that name … what does Grabio mean?
Grabio started from the idea of using the verb “grab” and “io” is more of a geeky term used by programers, which means Input/Ouput. Grabio essentially lets users input listings into the app, but also output or grab listings that they are interested in.

You’re preparing to release version 2.0. What can we expect to see?
Version 2.0 will include a new major feature called “Wish List” [SF: MapDing also had a feature called “wish list”]. The idea is to create an easier way for buyers to find items they are most interested in. For example, you can be a dedicated Cubs fan that attends a game every week, but to do this you need tickets.

You can use Grabio the classic way by seeking listings at different locations, or you can simply input the keyword or search phrase “Cubs tickets” and Grabio will search them for you based on the location you’re at. A push notification will be sent to your phone and the transaction can be completed within minutes.

There are a few other social features in next release, but we will communicate more on that as we get closer to v2.0 release date.

Simply input the keyword or search phrase “Cubs tickets” and Grabio will search them for you based on the location you’re at.

Your description says Grabio is “Foursquare, eBay and Craigslist in a single package.” How will the next version go even further?
In a future version, we would like to add the term “social classifieds” or “social network” within our core values.  More on that near the launch time when the feature set is finalized.

So your users create a mobile geo-fence based solely on GPS?
That is correct. Grabio uses your current location to connect the listings to GPS coordinates, hence creating a local marketplace that speeds up the time to complete a transaction. Grabio can solve one of the issues we see with Craigslist as listings are sometimes 50 to 100 miles away and users have no way of knowing that until the connection with the seller or buyer is being already established and emails have been exchanged. Grabio will indicate the distance from your location to where the item is located and will let the users or buyers decide when and with who to connect.

Do you employ any techniques to reduce battery drain (due to GPS use)?
The code has been optimized ever since the first lines have been written. Our development team has previous mobile apps experience and memory management and battery drain were top priorities.

How is money exchanged between buyer and seller?
At this point the transaction is solely between the buyer and seller. Grabio is only the facilitator of this transaction and payment is not processed by Grabio. Our vision from the beginning has been to include a mobile payment system and this feature continues to be a high priority for our team. The current focus is to grow the user base and marketplace inventory.

 Is Grabio involved in transactions?
At this point the transaction is solely between the buyer and seller. Grabio is only the facilitator of this transaction and payment is not processed by Grabio. Our vision from the beginning has been to include a mobile payment system and this feature continues to be a high priority for our team. The current focus is to grow the user base and marketplace inventory.

So, business model?
The revenue model is something we think about a lot, but for now we are focused on growing the user base and marketplace listings. We are already working on a mobile payment system that will position us in the middle of the transaction.

Are you able to talk about the number of active users / number of iPhone app downloads?
Not at the moment. We are still in a growing phase where we analyze all data we receive and adjust our feature set accordingly. I also believe the true measurement in the future for Grabio will be the total number of listings and transactions.

What other projects are you working on?
At the moment our attention is focused on Grabio in order to achieve its full potential. In the future, with help of investors, we would like to increase our team and begin developing other mobile apps that focus on location-based services.

Are you funded or bootstrapped?
Bootstrapped at the moment, but we are in talks with several angel investors and venture capital firms.

Have you ever launched a startup before?
Yes, I founded bmwblog.com in 2007. BMWBLOG is the largest online automotive magazine among it’s counterparts that specializes in delivering news pertaining to one car brand. With millions of page views delivered every month, BMWBLOG is one of the most important and trusted online automotive magazines.

Where do you see the location-based marketplace evolving next?
Mobility plays an important role in our day-to-day lives.With the increasing amount of smartphones purchased every year, we’re inclined to spend more time using our phones to complete tasks that were previously done on desktop or laptop computers. The location-based marketplace will complement the offerings from companies like Craigslist and eBay, and we believe many consumers and businesses will take advantage of the free opportunity to buy or sell things through mobile devices.

I also expect to see a lot of players in this segment focusing more and more on niches, reaching out a smaller but more focused audience. We have barely scratched the surface of mobile local marketplaces or classifieds, so I anticipate a lot of innovation in the near future, including the use of NFC-enabled devices.

Rick Robinson’s Turf Talk column appears every Wednesday on Street Fight.

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