OfferUp CEO Nick Huzar. (Photo courtesy of OfferUp)

OfferUp CEO Nick Huzar. (Photo courtesy of OfferUp)

OfferUp founder Nick Huzar makes customer safety a core pillar

Bellevue-based CEO wanted a simpler solution to his own problems

For Nick Huzar, Bellevue-based OfferUp started as a solution to a problem all too common in the modern world: he had to get rid of his old stuff.

“I just wanted it gone,” said Huzar, the company’s CEO.

In 2011, Huzar and his wife had just had a child — a daughter — and they needed to clear out their old things to make room for her. Dispensing old stuff was a hassle, and not being a fan of Craigslist or eBay’s interface, Huzar wanted a simpler solution to his own problems.

So, he and co-founder Arean van Veelen came up with OfferUp, which lets users buy and sell directly without giving out their personal information.

“Because of the smartphone, we were able to take a problem space and reimagine it entirely,” Huzar said. Instead of using an encyclopedic layout like Craigslist, OfferUp was designed as a smartphone app first instead of a website.

Since it was designed for the smartphone, OfferUp’s user interface focuses on being accessible first, so app users can easily make money from their unwanted possessions. “I’ve always thought about what we’re doing as unlocking value — and value’s sitting in our homes,” Huzar said.

However, Huzar noticed that a simple user interface took a backseat for many. “As I engaged more and more people, especially women, I found that they didn’t care,” Huzar said. “They were like, ‘I’m terrified of a person I don’t know coming to my house.’”

As a result, safety became one of the core pillars of OfferUp. Users can set up trades through the app without needing to give a stranger their phone number or email. When users do meet, they can choose to do so at designated “Community MeetUp Spots” in public, often located next to a police station or a local retailer.

OfferUp reaches out to businesses and public services like these to coordinate their efforts so that users can feel safe buying and selling their items. Huzar said that police reacted to their efforts with both surprise and approval.“Usually the feedback [from police] is ‘No one’s ever approached us before’,” Huzar said.

Sometimes, safety and simplicity can mean the same thing. Users can build a robust profile on OfferUp over time. People rate their transactions, leave comments about how other users behaved, and can even upload pictures of themselves so finding other users is as simple and safe as possible. Huzar said that these features allow people to ask questions and judge whether another user is trustworthy.

“Do they have a picture of themselves? Do they having ratings and reputation? How often do they show up?” Huzar said, listing questions that users may have while finding a buyer and seller.

OfferUp also uses an array of software to keep its users safe, like their natural language algorithm that can tell if a meetup location or time is unsafe, or the optional TruYou feature that can verify user identity through OfferUp so buyers and sellers know they can be trusted.

And if users want to skip the meeting entirely, or just don’t have time, they can have the item shipped. “We’re doing everything we can to make it a more trusted experience,” Huzar said.

Today, Nick’s daughter is 7 years old, and instead of creating a company to help people sell their old stuff, Huzar uses OfferUp to buy goods for himself and his family.

“My daughter’s reading these books called the ‘Dork Diaries.’ There was like 10 of them,” Huzar said. He groaned that they would have had to pay twice as much for them normally, but with OfferUp, he was able to ship them to his house for a good price.

“She got it delivered today,” Huzar said.

More in Business

Despite interest rate approach, real estate ticking onward

A real estate snap shot from John L. Scott Real Estate.

OfferUp founder Nick Huzar makes customer safety a core pillar

Bellevue-based CEO wanted a simpler solution to his own problems

Eastside tech companies Smartsheet, OfferUp, Apptio face challenging 2019

Here are a handful of companies from the Eastside that will be interesting to watch in 2019.

Microsoft’s Building 92. Wikimedia/Photo by Coolcaesar
Microsoft at top for 2018

Redmond-based tech giant closes year as most valued publicly-traded company.

The concepts from Mainstreet Property Group LLC (top) and Shelter Holding/Weinstein A+U were selected as finalists in an RFQ process for a commuter parking and mixed-use project in Mercer Island’s Town Center. Courtesy photos
Joint proposal announced for Mercer Island’s commuter parking and mixed-use project

The two ‘finalist’ companies will team up, with MainStreet Property Group leading the project.

Inside the lobby at the Google office in Kirkland. Photo courtesy of Runner1928
Google, Facebook to pay more than $400,000 to Washington state in campaign finance cases

Both are in the top 10 largest campaign finance recoveries in Washington state history.

Island Books hits 45-year mark

Store celebrated on Nov. 3 with cake and community.

Inside the lobby at the Google office in Kirkland. Photo courtesy of Runner1928
Kirkland employees protest sexual misconduct in Google walkout

Google’s Kirkland campus took part in the worldwide protest of sexual misconduct within the company.

Mercer Island’s Roanoke Inn receives first ever ‘legacy business’ award from the county

The Island’s oldest business received a 2018 John D. Spellman Award for historic preservation.

Mercer Island galleries debut new art at First Friday

Islanders enjoyed paintings, wine and conversation at the event.

Fall housing market shifts

Residential real estate snapshot for Mercer Island

Former Tully’s locations spring back to life

Following the coffee chain’s collapse earlier this year, other Eastside businesses are moving in.