“Kwiddy” is a website and mobile application where people can exchange goods and services.
Below, is the full interview that we have conducted with Mr. ‘Thelwell’ regarding his start-up “Kwiddy”;
1. What is it exactly that you do and what “Kwiddy” is all about?
Kwiddy is a website and mobile app where people can exchange goods and services.
For example, someone could offer and item in exchange for plumber to fix their leaky pipes, or a horse riding lesson in exchange for some home grown produce.
The possibilities are endless although the emphasis is to keep things at a lower level and not encourage swapping a Bentley for a Maserati, for instance. Our website and app is aimed at the masses.
Unlike our competition we are focusing on a local, community based approach where you are dealing with people right in your community in a real time. Post and you shall receive!
Kwiddy’s aim is to let people find the things they need before spending cash on a product or service.
You’d be surprised with how far you can get just by connecting with your community. The possibilities are endless. The amazing thing is most people, even in larger organizations are bartering or swapping on some scale.
Using technology and the web we are able to sync this action into everyday life simply by posting a request and seeing what the community comes back with for you!
2. When has “Kwiddy” been founded? And what stage is “Kwiddy” currently at?
We founded our original networking group in Arizona in 2005. We have been bartering and swapping between this group locally for 6 years and in 2011 we wanted to formalize the group and offer what we had already successfully been doing on a larger scale.
Kwiddy is currently finalizing our offering for an August 1st launch where we will have a beta group here in Arizona and 1 in California test the product and iron out any kinks we find.
We have chatted with some local investors but we are keen to make sure our product launches well and we have steady growth before looking at taking any capital on board.
3. What is “Kwiddy”’s business model and how does it work?
Our business in based on a freemium model. Users can use Kwiddy free forever. This tool is for community’s to build stronger ties and become a little more self sufficient by providing skills and services for each other before spending.
There will be the option for users to have a sponsored post perhaps if they have an urgent need which could be as cheap as $1.
We will also offer an opportunity down the line for local businesses to post their service for hire if a user does decide not to barter for an item.
One of our key fundamentals will be to serve community’s and connect individuals and local business.
This means giving the opportunity for local business to offer their services and build their business as well as trading and saving their cash where they can also.
4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?
Ian Jackson is our creative director and we have been friends since we were young. We have worked on our own business ventures but always loved the idea of setting Kwiddy up and bringing it to the masses.
Jose is the brains of the operation so to speak. He handles all mobile development and he and Ian work closely in all Dev and UI projects for Kwiddy.
And then there is me. I am everything in between. Handling day to day operations and the business development side of Kwiddy.
We’re a tight knit group and we like it like that as it helps us be agile and precise.
5. What, exactly, makes you different from existing options, what will make your product and/or service stand out in the marketplace? In other words what’s unique about you and what’s new about what you make?
Kwiddy has a few key defining characteristics we fell will set us apart from various companies in our space.
The ability to connect in a hyper-local transaction is relatively new in the tech space and we are seeing a huge wave of companies picking up on this and offering their services in a completely different manner.
You can use great companies like TaskRabbit and Zaarly to find someone to complete a task for you or pay someone to do a service for you in real time.
Kwiddy will take a similar approach and where other companies are utilizing the Swap and Barter model we will separate ourselves by offering a real time, local tool to find the things you need vs. sending a DVD to someone in New York in exchange for 2 CD’s.
There is allot more hassle and policing needed in these types of exchanges.
What makes us unique is our focus on building a collaborative effort locally between people to barter and swap by using a trusted and reliable source. Kwiddy.
6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has “Kwiddy” achieved so far?
As said earlier we are preparing for a beta test in August so our milestones have been pretty simple thus far.
We aimed to have 1,000 people in each city we were hosting the beta in (Phoenix, San Fran) and we are not too far away from hitting that number now.
As with many collaborative efforts critical mass is key. Without people posting requests nobody can fill a need so this will be one of our main focuses as we grow and expand our markets.
7. Who are your competitors? And what is “Kwiddy”’s competitive advantage over them?
In a traditional sense sites like swap.com and barterquest.com are supposed to be our competitors, but we see things a little differently.
I believe our biggest competitor is Craigslist. Craigslist has a barter section on their site. But it as many other factions of their site are quite poorly maintained and lots of the postings in this section are just people selling stuff or spam.
This is not to take a shot at Criagslist because they have and do provide an amazing service that people utilize to better their lives in various ways.
We feel we have a competitive advantage over all the above by simply offering a different type of value.
We are not asking users to mail items and pay a tariff for using our site. We want an open forum for users to connect and engage.
This will provide an advantage for us and the user as they will be able to discuss and barter/swap on the fly and change things round as needed.
Also offering a professional, simple and easy to user tool that is not convoluted with various other items will give us a huge leg up.
8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
As we are still a young company we have not hit too many road bumps just yet. We tend, as many founders of startups do to be perfectionists and sometimes a little overly analytic of our work (Especially the creative guys!!).
I think we’ve found when launching Kwiddy that there is so much work that goes into launching a project of this nature and no little detail can be overlooked.
This still can be challenging and it means each member of the team has to be efficient and on point.
9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?
People on the outside probably still don’t quite understand the opportunity that lies within bartering/swapping.
It may seem limited to smaller items, which it is perfect for but Kwiddy/Bartering cna be used for all sorts.
I’ve negotiated everything from plumbing repairs to flying lessons.
It may seem that this may take some negotiating skills or confidence that people may feel they lack, but that’s where Kwiddy slides in nicely.
Just by using Kwiddy to shoot messages back and forth with a user in their community they will discover everything they need is right around them.
10. Why are you going to succeed?
We will succeed because we are addressing a burning need and offering value to our users.
With this formula we feel we cannot fail. We have full belief that at their very core people need to maintain a certain level of living.
Times are tough. So in order to maintain that level of living Kwiddy can help connect the dots.
Nobody should have to go without anything. So instead of scrambling and getting into more debt and blowing your hard earned cash the success of Kwiddy is in the hands of the people and the people using our free tool to build better and stronger ties in the community.
11. If “Kwiddy” succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?
We would probably look into advancing our for sale section, but we haven’t giving too much thought to this phase yet as we are focusing on our core competency’s right now.
Sure people can use Ebay or other sites but we want to offer a market where people can also sell goods or services if they choose not to barter for them.
12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build “Kwiddy” based on?
Quite simply we were living Kwiddy. I and one other friend challenged each other to live a cash free life for as long as we possibly could.
This meant everything from rent to food. It was a great experience and proved the idea of living cashless could be achieved while maintaining a quality standard of living.
I kept my friends house clean and cooked for them every night in exchange for room and board.
I did everything from give guitar lessons in exchange for dinners and my friend even snagged some flying lessons in exchange for wed dev work!
This wasn’t strictly survival we did plenty of things that most people would consider leisure and we didn’t pay for any of it with cash.
This lead us to believe that everyone is good at something. Whether its baking cakes or fixing a car.
You might have old video games you don’t play anymore but a guy that lives in your neighborhood would switch with you for something you do want but until now you have to go and buy these things. Instead save your cash and swap!
We already had a pretty large group of people we had worked with and friends and we noticed that most of us were doing things in exchange for each other all the time anyway.
Now we will move to a wider model so many others can participate in our collaborative consumption efforts.
13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?
I can’t speak for the others on this but personally the biggest learning curve for me has been the absolute neccesity for attention to detail.
When creating something like this you can’t look over your shoulder and think, oh someone else will do that. It’s notm possible in a satrtup of this size.
YOU are responsible for everything. Customer service, sales, management, hiring etc and it is a pretty steep learning curve if you are not prepared and it’s an amazing experience going through this type of education.
Also learning that there will be many failures along the way but it’s overcoming them and never giving up.
If you believe you will offer value and you believe in the quality of what your doing, the rest will follow.
14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?
I’d like to think it’s maintaining a steady rate of growth!! I think making sure we don’t get carried away and continue to provide a quality service is key.
Finding the right members for the team also as we grow could be a pleasant challenge, if you catch my drift.
We will need to hire new developers eventually and because we have been such a tight knit group for these early stages we will need to find people that fit the chemistry and team well, understanding our mission.
15. What’s the benefit for the customer/user?
Ordinary people are feeling the squeeze and are looking for ways to reduce their expenditure whilst still retaining their standard of living. What’s the problem? Cash.
It’s tight for most people but many have stuff
around the house or a skill that others may want but don’t have the money to pay for.
Sure, they could use Ebay, but you can’t sell fresh fruit or a mechanics services on it.. We are the platform to solve this problem.
16. How did customers/users find out about you?
Everything is social networking right now. We have done various interviews and articles but mainly through social networking and friends.
We did a giveaway of an Ipad 3 (still are actually) for the user that refers the most people in Phoenix and San Fran to help build up a core audience in those cities. So we got a great response from that.
There’s no need to spend on advertising or the likes as we feel the product will speak for itself, especially once the beta has kicked off.
17. Who are your current customers/users? Who are your target customers/users?
Our target customer varies pretty significantly. During small beta tests conducted here in Arizona we found College kids to house wives love using this type of service.
Young professionals also liked to barter for cleaning services and we even had a farmer trading fresh veg for some electrical work.
The possibilities and audience are limitless but I’m sure as we progress a little further we’ll have a much more defined idea of who the dominant market is.
18. Where do new customers/users come from and what makes new customers/users try you?
As mentioned earlier, right now all new users are coming from social/friend referrals. They are signing up for the beta at launch.kwiddy.com and we are cutting things off at a certain threshold.
We think users will be compelled to try using Kwiddy for multiple reasons.
Saving money. Finding new opportunity’s. Filling a need.
These are some pretty key factors that many people make actions over using tech.
19. What do your customers/users say about your product and/or service?
From the feedback we had in Arizona people loved our bartering networking groups and are excited to see it move to Mobile/Web giving them the opportunity to expand on what has already been successful offline for us.
We’ll constantly be open to feedback, good or bad as this will help us tweak the product to exactly what the people want. We are all ears.
20. How are you going to scale?
Initially we are only accepting a certain number of members.
We’ll scale by adding certain amounts of members at a time from a waiting list.
Then adding additional cities and also eventually moving internationally as this project can be adopted by any town/city around the globe.
It’s important for us to scale accordingly to avoid any lapse in service or drop in quality. We’ll add new users and locations accordingly.
21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers/users keep asking for?
We’ll find this out as we launch and gather feedback. We plan to use various focus groups of friends and family and some people that we don’t know to be sure we encompass all the ideas people share that could potentially improve Kwiddy’s offering.
The features will be kept clean and simple. The primary focus is around a post and provide method.
The easier it is for users to use our service the more people will feel comfortable with our offering.
22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?
Yes we plan to take Kwiddy international. But we remained focus on 1 step at a time. Making the initial offering quality and getting he feedback we need is crucial.
There’s nothing stopping users being in various places around the world and using our platform.
It’s important to us though that we take our time and focus on the launch and success here domestically before considering branching out. At which point we will need aggressive growth in operations and adding some more senior level staff members experienced in international business.
23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?
Kwiddy will be huge!! We have no doubt about it. Once a user discovers the value that can be provided by using Kwiddy the rest will follow.
We believe we will eventually go internationally and we will achieve these goals by having a steady growth rate and being agile enough to change as needed.
Getting involved in different press, social, and some traditional media will be great keys for us to unlock the gates to growth. But word of mouth will be pivotal.
We’re confident in people sharing with everyone they know because of the confidence and quality in our product.
24. Are you looking to hire a new workforce? And if yes, what job vacancies do you currently offer and where can potential applicants contact you at?
We’re not adding anyone else just yet. But eventually we will be looking at add various development people and engineers to the team.
Having a strong team is very important to any organization we fell. So getting some rock stars in once we expand will be crucial.
Get at us on Twitter if interested @kwiddydotcom
25. Are you looking for partnership opportunities or funding from Venture Capitals (VC) or other funding sources? Or your business is self-sustainable? And if the first option applies where can potential partners / investors contact you at?
We’re open to any new opportunities. As mentioned we had some interest locally from investors but it did not feel right at the time.
It would be more practical for us to partner/find investment from someone in the tech space that has knowledge and experience in pushing new startup forward.
This isn’t critical but would definitely be worth looking at some time in the future.
26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?
For fresh entrepreneurs. Well it’s quite simple. Find something you love. Create value. Work hard. Be disciplined and work with people you enjoy and trust.
The rest will follow. This is our philosophy.
27. Finally, do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
Thanks you to everyone for taking the time out to explore and learn about Kwiddy. We look forward to everyone joining in with us as Kwiddy grows.
Now we’re off for some lemonade. Bye.