Junkstr is a new platform that allows you to sell lots of things you no longer use. The founders of this startup are Rodolfo Berríos and Patricio Vidal, both are developers and it took them a while to develop the idea, which is now operative and already has users selling their “junk.” In StarterDaily we talked with these entrepreneurs about the details of developing this system, its business model, the investors and the problems they faced along the road to their creation.
From the idea to the implementation, how long did it take to build the beta version of the web site?
We came up with the idea on January 2013 and since then up until February we dedicated our time to validating this idea. We did basic things like surveying and contacting people who we knew were doing garage sales and people who used other similar services such as Mercadolibre and Yapo.
We were careful not to condition the answers to questions so that people would answer what we wanted to hear, we wanted to get the real status of the problem and to know whether it was a real problem or just our own hunch.
We never approached people in a “hey, we have this great idea” tone, but instead we approached them in a way that would let us know if publishing their “trash” to sell was a drag to them.
On March 2013 and once our idea was validated, it took us two weeks to have the first alpha version. This version was the purest representation of the problem and it was simply a picture with a few tags. The alpha version was well received so from there we started working on the complete system which was launched on November 2013.
Thus far, have you gotten anyone investing on the project?
No, we have not gotten any investment nor have we participated in any program. We tried participating on a first round (2013) of Startup Chile but we weren’t selected. It was our conviction that Junkstr was something really good so we kept working on the idea by investing our time on it and setting aside other jobs.
The setback of not getting capital from SUP was actually a good thing since it motivated us to be even more creative and to save money when it came to developing Junkstr. We recycled lots of things from previous projects (mainly Chevereto) and since both of us [the founders] are developers and a friend helps us with the machines, we haven’t had the need to hire anyone else.
This is still an idea that is being developed, which is why you don’t charge. What is the business model you’ll most likely use? (I read somewhere around something about Featured Items). Do you think it will be enough to attract the attention of investors?
On classified ads you basically have the following options: Advertising, commissions and featured items. However, in Junkstr we see no attractive on a commissions system. We consider it stops the input of new content and since in Junkstr the articles sold are other people’s “junk”, they are cheap. This is why charging a commission is unattractive if you consider the necessary spending on management (accounting, taxation, etc.)
However, Junkstr opens an interesting B2B window because we have lots of stuff that people post in order to get rid of them and there are lots of other people who are dedicated to removing them, so we have the option of generating a unique showcase for these businesses. But that’s just an added bonus, not the center of what we really care about which is advertising and Featured Items.
I think for investors who are on classifieds, Junkstr has a great appeal and sooner or later it will attract their attention. It’s obvious that an investor who doesn’t know about the world of classified ads will be scared away by our business model but that’s how these websites work.
What problems did you encounter or did you have to fix before the launch?
The main problem was getting content since that’s about 90% of what composes a classified ads system; it’s like the chicken and the egg.
So at first it was a really difficult task to achieve the goal of 30 real items, we had to personally collaborate with that goal. Back then I uploaded 8 lots of “junk” and sold around CLP 400.000 so it was a win-win situation for me. Patricio also uploaded stuff and so did our friends. After that it started snowballing and we haven’t had any major issues. It’s funny, it took a lot of effort to get the initial content and now we get around 30 lots a day.
Any advice for other entrepreneurs?
I would tell them that if they stop persisting, then they better dedicate their efforts to something else.
It took me from 2006 to 2011 to get income from one project, so I know something about being persistent. Junkstr is not my first startup so the rocky road we have faced is due to the fact that we have had several falls before; we learned to continue to persist.
I see so many projects that die in less than a year and people with no capacity to transform or pivot their projects that I attribute that to the fact that they are not persistent or the people simply don’t believe in themselves.