Editor’s note: this post is 100% about a company I am directly involved in. Do not read into it as self promotion, but rather as a personal analysis/entrepreneurial story.
After reading Sid’s post on Memiary, it got me thinking as to why I develop all the sites I have in recent times. Of all the projects, one always sticks out in my mind as a way to make an existing need, better. Here is a little history before I explain the reasoning behind the creation of Jicka.
I used to use classified sites, like ones that share the same name as me with a list at the end, and auction sites like ones that have former CEO’s running for Governor, to sell and buy stuff online. There were certain aspects of each site I liked, but many had features and functionality issues that I hated. I slowly found myself not using these sites anymore and kept saying to myself that there has to be a better way.
Anyone who has used other classified sites can immediately notice the amount of spam that is listed throughout the site. Although it is almost impossible to prevent spam, it seems counter productive to keep placing classified posts only to be inundated with requests to send the item cause the buyer sent the check in the mail. It also seems so antiquated to pay a listing fee like on the auction sites to find out that your item didn’t sell and now you must pay again to relist.
So one day after totally getting frustrated on the classified site I was using, I decided I could make a better free classified site online for people like me. People who get sick of having their Tickle Me Elmo doll posting get taken down since it was flagged by a competitor who was trying to sell theirs at a higher price. People who were sick of going to bathroom and finding their listing already was moved down to page 3, since within the last 2 minutes dozens of other items were listed in the category. People who weren’t allowed to post in more then one city, even though you were in between two majors. People who were unable to use the same posting more then once. I can go on and on about the reasoning behind each feature here, but I will try to show what differs Jicka from the others and why I think it is better and easier to use.
Living in Boca Raton, Florida, I find myself half way in between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale. When I used to post on these other sites, I had to choose one and hope that the people searching would find me. Would the people in West Palm find me if I listed in Fort Lauderdale and vice versa? Recently, one of these classifieds sites has fixed this by just having one South Florida section, but for years it wasn’t like this. Maybe they even got the idea from Jicka — who knows?
When I started having Jicka developed in India, I mentioned to the developer that I would like to have a way to list my item in more then one city. Originally we decided we should do it by zip code and give a certain vicinity. It was later agreed upon listing the 3 closest cities to your location (if applicable) and letting the lister decide if they want to list in more then one city. For example, if you live in Fort Lauderdale, maybe you want Miami and West Palm beach to see your item. Jicka also does not prohibit you from posting this item in Naples, Fl as well.
Another tool I created for the site, since this was lacking on the other classified sites, is a Notify Me section, where users can enter in keywords they want the system to notify them with. Once a listing is posted on Jicka that meets the criteria they entered, the system will email them an immediate notification that am item matches the exact keywords they entered.
A unique tool we just introduced is a Re-Post feature. This enables a user to set how many days, and how many times a day their posting will get moved back up to the top. Although Jicka is not yet busy enough to expect members to pay for it, it is a premium feature that will be widely used once the site is more trafficked. Unlike the other sites where you have to delete your listing, then use a new email to repost a different version of the original ad, we actually help our members promote their items. Think how helpful this would be on the other major classified site!
Jicka also allows up to 2 featured items to appear in each category. This is also a premium feature that will become quite helpful once the site has traction. After posting your item, we provide social bookmarking tools through AddThis. Users can join Jicka as a member and create a profile, which enables them to easily edit, and manage their listings. A thumbnail photo can also be uploaded for commenting purposes. This is the image that will appear throughout the site.
Jicka also allows our users to post up videos of their items, upload up to 7 photos, as well as provide the precise location of the item on a map. Users can also post comments below each item so their is community interaction amongst visitors. This can be helpful when trying to inform a member of spam, or if an item is priced too high. We also integrated Facebook Connect, so you can sign into Jicka using your Facebook Login Credentials, as well as posting an item to your Facebook Feed. Speaking of posting items to other sites, you can also use Jicka and post all your items to your Twitter account.
Other helpful features on Jicka include the ability to enter a second email address in case something should happen to your primary, you can still use your second. With Jicka you an also view items by regular text, similar to the way it is found on many of the competitor sites. Jicka goes one step further though, and provides the simple scanning tool of Visual Listings. By clicking on this link visitors can view everything on the site by date and photos, instead of having to read anything.
I am sure I am missing plenty of features that Jicka has, that the other sites are lacking. And upon visiting Jicka you might notice that we really do not have a pinky nail full of the listings that other sites have….YET! It would be easy to abandon Jicka due to the competition it will face. Perhaps even sell it to one of the interested parties who contacted us in the past. But this is a site that I feel will help others like myself who only use other sites because there are no technologically better alternatives. As Steve Outing said back in July on Reinventing Classifieds:
“While Craigslist does respond to user needs and some requests, there are plenty of features that could be added to make it better. Does that leave an opening for someone to create a Better Craigslist, by doing a better job with technology and features? Because Craigslist has been complacent for so long in terms of innovation (you can’t even post video classifieds there), some entrepreneurs believe that it’s vulnerable. And while Craig’s loyal following may not be ready to replace his list with something technologically better, building a Better Craigslist might lure enough of them away — or grab duplicate ad placements by Craigslist users wanting more exposure — to build a decent business.”
I couldn’t really state this any better myself. It is time for classifieds to catch up to the social web. Give Jicka a try and let me know what you think. Please leave me comments here on new features and on improvements to make to our current ones. Jicka is built for those who will not sit complacent and just accept the antiquaited tools that are handed to them on the other sites. Jicka is for you, and only you can help shape it!
If someone had told Facebook to not follow through with their ambitions because myspace was too big, we wouldn’t have the wonderful platform that most of the world is using now. If Jicka succeeds in becoming a dominant player and gaining market share, we will all witness together how even in the classifieds arena, no one can stay on top forever.