Craigslist alternative gives customers simplicity, safety

Nick Huzar, founder of OfferUp, started the company when he realized the difficulty of selling a load of items online.  - Nat Levy, Bellevue Reporter
Nick Huzar, founder of OfferUp, started the company when he realized the difficulty of selling a load of items online.
— image credit: Nat Levy, Bellevue Reporter

With a baby on the way and a room full of junk, Nick Huzar knew he had to act fast.

Huzar had between 50 and 60 items to sell that were taking up space in what would become his child’s nursery. As he rounded up each item, planning to sell them all on online, Huzar thought the ordeal should be a lot easier.

“I’m looking at the room thinking it is going to take forever to post this on Craigslist or Ebay,” he said. “It’s so easy to capture something (on a phone) and share it. Why can’t selling it be as easy as taking a photo?”

With that, Huzar, a veteran of the tech world and startups, got to work. In his research he learned he wasn’t alone in the case of clutter. According to a 2010 Department of Energy report, a quarter of families can’t park a car inside a two-car garage because of excess belongings. An estimated $7,000 worth of unused stuff takes up room in the average American home, he said.

In response, Huzar and his partner, Arean van Veelen, created OfferUp, a mobile-based app that allows users to take photos of items they want to sell and buyers can view and purchase them instantly. The service, which Huzar said launched June 26 for the iPhone is available online as well, and an app for Android will be created in the near future.

The joy in OfferUp, Huzar said, is its simplicity. While Craigslist can require many steps, OfferUp is a quick process that can lead to the product being posted to Craigslist as well.

“If I have 50 items I can get them online in a few minutes, whereas it would take a whole day on something like Craigslist,” Huzar said.

Huzar is proud of the increased security his site brings as well. Users can sign up with a service called TruYou, which has them photograph a piece of identification that the company then compares with public records to verify the seller’s authenticity.

Huzar, who has worked at T-Mobile and Microsoft, previously founded Konnects in 2004, a social media site that he thought could have been the next Facebook.

Huzar says mobile commerce will soon dominate the shopping world, whether it is straight exchanges through mobile sites, or just another way to get people in brick and mortar stores.

Among all users, Hopscotch, a downtown Bellevue consignment store may be the most excited about the service. Kimberly Kasin founded the shop six months ago when she had a basement full of outgrown children’s clothes to get rid of. She started putting items in the store on OfferUp, and things flew off the rack. It also brought more people to the store.

“As a store owner, it is great because when people come in to buy the thing they want, they often will buy other things from the store,” she said.

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