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On Demand Businesses 101

How Gone App is enabling people to sell anything OnDemand : Startup Story #25

There might be a lot of things around you that are not in use. From large electronics to small items like headphones and from gadgets to other items, a lot of things that were once your favourite are often left to gather dust. With Gone app, you can sell your old items without any hassle. The business model of Gone app has made a lot of people sell their old items as easy as 1, 2 and 3 and get some good cash for it. Here’s the success story of Gone along with insights into the practises that made the app a success.

Q1.Tell us a little about Gone and your personal motivation for starting this business?

We came up with the idea of Gone a few years ago when the founding team members and I realized just how many things we were all hoarding in our small apartments. We thought to ourselves, “Why is there not a better way to sell our stuff online”? We then began to brainstorm ideas, and we realized just painful it is for the average person to get rid of their unwanted items and make some money from doing so. Selling online is an ingonecredibly time ­consuming process, and we soon had our light bulb moment. The idea of Gone was born after we identified roughly six pain points we had all encountered when trying to sell something online:

  • Deciding where to sell your items online. You have to create an account on the most appropriate marketplace or platform for your items ­ whether that’s eBay, Craigslist, or another local selling platform. Then, you have to keep track of all your usernames and passwords for these marketplaces.
  • Filling out lengthy listing pages with detailed descriptions.​Most marketplaces have blank forms ready for you to complete with your items’ details. However, finding and completing this information can take loads of time. And more often than not, you also have to measure accurately and weigh your items to calculate proper shipping costs.
  • Figuring out how to price your items.​If you want to find the prices that others have set for similar items, you have to scroll through endless marketplace listings or perform time ­consuming research to discover the optimal price for your items given their age, condition, model number, etc. Also, as the saying goes, your items are only worth what someone is willing to pay for it ­ so you may have to repeatedly adjust your pricing.
  • Negotiating back­ and ­forth and answering buyer questions.So someone is interested in your items ­ great! But they also want to know if they can have it for $60, instead of $75, and if you ship to Guam. Back­ and ­forth negotiating and receiving outlandish or repetitive questions about your items can be a total time suck.
  • Receiving payments for your items. ​Most online marketplaces process payments via PayPal, but it’s quite common for buyers to back out or never follow­ through on a transaction. If you’re selling locally on Craigslist, you have to make cash transactions with strangers.
  • Arranging a meeting point or shipping. Find a buyer for your items on Craigslist? Now it’s time to arrange a meeting, which involves choosing a busy public space and begging your most intimidating­ looking friend to come with you in case the buyer you are meeting is the next Craigslist killer. Alternatively, if you have to ship your items, you have to weigh them, calculate any packaging costs, and then make a trip to the post office or schedule the shipping yourself.

We designed Gone to eliminate all of these pain points involved with online selling. Gone takes care of all the logistics of selling your unwanted items ­ from finding the best prices for your items, handling all the packing and shipping, and paying you the money for your sales.

Q2.Can you give us a rundown of how Gone works?

Gone helps users get rid of unwanted items by making the selling process easy. The Gone Lite version of the app sends users boxes for users to ship their items and is available nationwide, with users selling mostly electronics and taking home an average of $210. Gone users in San Francisco and Austin, however, can use the Gone concierge service, where a Gone assistant meets them at their location to pick up items.

We have an iOS app and SMS service, so anyone with a cell phone can sell their items.

Q3. There are definitely a lot of companies similar to Gone floating around right now. What are you doing that differentiates you?

What differentiates Gone from other consumer goods marketplaces is that we are the first on-­demand selling service. What this means is we instantly assist you and take care of the entire selling process every step of the way. There are dozens of marketplaces where you can sell your unwanted items, but none where you have a live assistant and concierge service to handle every single step. We price your items, list them for you, pick up your items (or send you free boxes to ship them), as well as collect all payments for your items that sell. Gone makes selling entirely hands­ off and hassle­free.

Q4.Who are your key stakeholders and how are you offering them value?Gone_Boxes (1)

Our key stakeholders include our logistics partners as well as the many marketplaces with whom we have partnered, such as eBay and Amazon. We offer our partners value by acting as a lead­ generator for these services ­ we essentially bring them filtered, targeted leads by supplying them with the products Gone users wish to sell. For buyers in peer­ to ­peer marketplaces, there can be many transaction risks, such as products never arriving or the quality is not as described. Through rigorous inspections, we can guarantee our buyers that the products work and are in the condition stated.

Q5.What is Gone’s biggest achievement to date? How did you go about accomplishing this?

The launch of Gone’s on­-demand concierge service, where we send a Gone assistant to your home at your convenience to pack, prepare and pickup your items for sale, was a major achievement for us. We first launched this service in just two cities: Austin and San Francisco.

These were markets we were familiar with, thanks to our time at TechStars Austin and Bay Area team members. Launching in just two cities allowed us to analyze safety and prove our concept on our home turf prior to broader expansion. We plan to launch our concierge pickup service next in New York City, Boston, and Seattle.

The launch of our SMS service was also a major company milestone. Anyone with a mobile device can now text 415­980­4663, and a Gone assistant will walk you through the entire selling process.

Q6.What has been your biggest set back? How did you deal with it?

Learning that quality control also applies to the expansion of your team. Having team members spread across not only multiple time zones but also multiple countries presented a challenge at the beginning. Ensuring that each team member knows his or her responsibilities and that each new city launch is executed as smoothly as possible takes careful planning and excellent internal communication. It’s impossible to micromanage across all locations, so you need to be able to delegate and build a team that you can trust will handle the responsibilities they are given.

Q7.Could you shed some light on the technology and tools used to build Gone ?

Gone is built completely on proprietary technology. We’ve built a complex pricing algorithm that scans a range of online marketplaces, such as Amazon and eBay, to determine the best price for the items you wish to sell. We’ve also developed email integration to scrape out receipts to generate an inventory of the stuff that you own already. This means that anytime you make an online purchase, and the receipt is in your email, the information describing the product will be automatically added into the Gone app and as a reminder of items you might have available for sale in the future.

We’ve also partnered with UPS to automatically ship our users the packaging materials necessary for them to send off their items themselves, either through a home pick­up from UPS or by dropping it off at a local UPS branch. We are also currently working on an API that will allow third­party apps to use our data and systems for their development projects.

Q9.What are some the current trends you see in the industry?

A major trend that we’ve noticed in second ­hand and peer­ to­ peer marketplaces is that consumers now prioritize safety and convenience over price when buying, selling or trading their goods and services. Craigslist has been a good solution for a while, but now each of its verticals, or categories, has been taken over by startups with a better solution. For example, Airbnb for accommodation, Beppi and Shift for buying and selling vehicles, and of course Gone, for selling consumer electronics.

Q10. Which is the one particular tool you swear by in your marketing strategy to gain more traction and that has never failed you?

A really great tool is being able to build strong partnerships in each city and globally. These partners not only offer us the opportunity to expand our product, but they give us valuable advice on how to make a better tool for our users.

Q11.If you had a chance to go back, what would you want to do differently?

Nothing! We are extremely pleased with everything we have been able to accomplish so far and we have learned so much from our mistakes. There are some things we had to learn the hard way, but it’s better to figure out what went wrong and grow from that.

Q12.Any advice for start-ups trying to make it big or join the On­Demand space?

One of the biggest challenges on-­demand startups face is managing operations and launching services in new regions. I recently wrote an articlefor ReadWrite that offers detailed advice for expanding your on­-demand service, one city at a time. For further advice and information about our API, I’d love to chat! My email is [email protected]

Gone website: https://thegoneapp.com/
Gone SMS: https://gonesms.com/
App Store Link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/gone­selling­on­demand/id874081936?mt=8
Video: https://youtu.be/V1HIVHMoA18

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