May 22, 2017 - No Comments!

Version 2.0 is here!

After nearly a year of design, development, and testing, our shiny new version 2.0 is finally available on iPhone and Android!

"But what's new - how can you actually improve upon the nouveau-marketplace app status quo?" perhaps some might ask...

Well, let me tell you a story son.

Prior to starting our design phase for v2.0, we spoke to a bunch of our most devoted users, looked at all of our user behaviour data, held focus groups and sent out surveys to our target user groups (Mothers and Students). The result was a decent idea of what was missing with both traditional and upcoming marketplaces - a ton of features and functions that users actually want. So then we got to work, and a year later it's finally live!

So what's new for version 2.0?

NEW INTERFACE & DESIGN: Our resident design surgeon, Dr. Roberts, has completely redesigned the layout of Paperclip to create a refined user experience. The results speak for themselves.

REMOVED PRICES: Removing prices means you have a better chance of getting more for the items you are selling, it also eliminates annoying seller-inflated prices which put folk off buying an item. Sellers can still set a minimum price, which means they'll only receive offers above the set price - but buyers won't get to see this. A lot of user feedback and data pointed towards this decision.

The ultimate ambition with removing the price is;

  1. To encourage buyers to make offers which they deem are fair, without being influenced by a guide price. You don't see a price tag on your friend's unwanted iPhone do you?
  2. To emphasize the value of everyday items laying unused around your home - many people see a currency symbol and immediately think about making cash offers, neglecting the fact that they're surrounded by unwanted items which are essentially 'cash on the shelf'
  3. To get buyers and sellers to negotiate and engage in real-life negotiation processes

We wrote an article about this here - if you get turned on by stats you're in for a satisfying afternoon.

MAKE YOUR OWN MARKETPLACE WITH PAPERCLIP GROUPS: This one's a bit of a game-changer as far as we're concerned... and something that probably took the longest to get right in terms of development. You can now create a private or public marketplace for your friends, family, university, community - anything you like really. Again, a lot of data pointed towards adding this feature, and the only way to currently do this with existing platforms is via Facebook Groups (did you know that there are 200 million of them!?). Just 9% of those surveyed felt comfortable sharing their secondhand buying and selling habits with friends and family on Facebook. To put it succinctly, we're going to do for those 200 million Facebook Buy/Sell groups what Eventbrite did for Facebook Events - add a transaction process, advanced verification processes, and most importantly... take them off Facebook!

Paperclip Groups are like Facebook Buy/Sell Groups, but on steroids, which is kind of apt because Paperclip is based in Wales, the juice capital of the world.

NEGOTIATE: With Paperclip version 2.0, you are not limited to only being able to accept or decline an offer. You can now negotiate, which means you don’t have to keep declining an offer until you get what you want. You can send a counter-offer to the buyer indicating what you are willing to accept, it is then on them to accept, decline, or negotiate again. This is how we do it in life so why not bring it to the 21st century?

TRADE CENTRE: A dedicated and easy to use transaction section, which automatically filters all your offers, messages, and notifications into buying and selling… you’re welcome.

Our newly introduced Trade Centre section helps you manage all of your offers, messages, notifications and transactions all in one place, handy eh?

RESPONSE RATES & REVIEWS: Unresponsive users and time-wasters are one of the biggest problems with marketplace. We trawled through hundreds of reviews from other marketplace platforms and gained a lot of insight; problems with unresponsive buyers and sellers were among the most common reasons for negative reviews. We have added several new features to prevent this from happening, and to help manage expectations with inactive buyers and sellers. Every Paperclip user now has a response rate, which falls if they fail to respond to other users within an appropriate time. We have also opened up the review process so you can leave a user review at any time, not just after a trade has been completed.

ADVANCED VERIFICATION: Safety has never been more important to us, with more items and users being added to Paperclip each week than ever before. Indeed, one of our co-founders recently wrote an article claiming that 'trust is the new currency in the economy' - he has absolutely no clue what he's talking about of course, but he does have a good point... trust is important.  For this reason, we've added some enhanced security and verification settings. In short, you can now verify your account via Facebook, email, and SMS - and you can check the verification status of other buyers and sellers on their profile. I'm not going to lie to your pretty faces and tell you that we spent hours researching trust processes, we basically we took a look at how other sharing economy based startups such as Uber and Airbnb were solving the trust issue... and emulated their verification processes.

So there you go, after nearly a year of design and development we've finally released a product that we're proud of; a purpose-built marketplace based on extensive user feedback, with innovative features that we can proudly say you won't find elsewhere.

Download Paperclip v2.0 today for: Android | iPhone

So what's next?

We'll be starting slow with the ramp-up for this version; we'll take a month's worth of user behaviour and feedback to refine the user experience for a version 2.1 release in June, and then we'll start cracking on with some rather serious new features for 2.2 and beyond, which should put us in a strong position to take over Wales / the UK / Europe / the world within the next decade. Or something like that.

As always, we'd love to hear about how you're finding the new version; whether it's a bug, a new feature, or just something you'd like to rant about, give us a shout at hello@paperclip.co!

Rich

Published by: Rich Woolley in Features, New Feature, News

March 23, 2017 - No Comments!

2 key marketplace behavioral insights and how they’ve shaped features for version 2.0

As part of releasing our new version, we took time to review all of the data that we’d gathered from running a marketplace platform. We looked in depth at everything, and no stone was left unturned.

Other than significant brand, UI and UX overhaul, there are two main outcomes reflected in our v2.0 release. Rather than overload your puny earthling brains with both revelations simultaneously, we’ve focused on sharing the first major change in this article…

Removing the price from Paperclip

We’ve removed the price from our app. This means that you’ll no longer see a ‘guide price’ on items in the app. Of course this could be a ridiculous move, but below is our rationale for such a bold move;

Our proprietary user data, combined with insights collected from user surveys and focus groups all pointed towards removing the price.

We found that;

  • 88% of buyers lowballed the hell out of sellers in their initial offers. Whilst this is, of course, a fundamental to negotiation, we realised that price served as an upper boundary to negotiation
  • 12% of buyers made a cash offer for the actual price; which means that sellers never get more than their list price for the item they’re selling
  • 82% of buyers indicated that a high price was actually putting them off making an offer, while…
  • 60% of buyers admitted to inflating their list prices, knowing that they’d get lowballed
  • 68% of people saw the £ sign and their first thoughts were on a monetary transaction; they forgot all about the massive value that they have just laying about their attic. In other words – people forget all about swapping when they see a price, because money is quite literally on their mind

With the above in mind, it’s clear that having the price on the app was causing bounded rationality in a sense, and so we’ve made a bold decision… and that decision is to remove the price.

Asides from the statistical wet-dream outlined above, what are the benefits of this to the end Paperclip user?

GREATER SATISFCATION, LESS RESENTMENT: It’s psychology, innit. Just bear with me on this while I explain, using a role play scenario;

You’re a buyer that wants to get £50 for a spare bike that you have. Now that your price is hidden from the buyers, you’re likely to receive bids anywhere from £10 to £100 for that bike. Therefore, if Johnny Buyer wants to bid £60 for your bike, and you accept, you’re both going to be happy. Why? Because Johnny Buyer is getting the bike for a price that they are prepared to pay for it, and Sarah Seller is selling her bike for more than she expected to get out of it. So everybody is happy, and it’s all because the price is removed.

LESS TIME TURNING DOWN OFFERS, MORE TIME PLAYING POKEMON

In an effort to prevent these low-ball offers, we’ve also introduced some handy, advanced item features;

  • Offer preferences: you’ll now be able to state your preference of offers (ie. cash only, swaps, cash plus swaps, etc)
low ball

Steve told me to update the wording of this notification message, totally forgot.

  • Minimum bid price: when selling an item, you can now enter a price that you’re not willing to sell below. This price will be invisible to buyers, and if anyone tries to make an offer below that bid price they’ll be kindly (but firmly) requested to up their offer, saving you the hassle of telling them that yourself

So there you go, a couple of rational reasons for removing the price.

What are your thoughts on this? Feel free to send any feedback to us at hello@paperclip.co – we welcome your feedback, even if it’s a simple ‘I like banana pancakes’.

Published by: Rich Woolley in Features, New Feature

March 12, 2017 - No Comments!

Behind the scenes

It has been a while since the last update, and in that time our team has doubled in size - we've taken on some new developers, including a full-time CTO. As of next month we will be hiring a marketing/social media manager position, but more on that at a later date.

There are several things going on behind the scenes at Paperclip;

  1. Our investment round: we've just closed a round, which is great. Well, we closed it in January but the legals are taking a while. For this reason it's hard to give an update until it's totally completed (targeting next week for the funds to arrive), and I will write a post on what we've learned throughout raising our third round of funding towards the end of the month.
  2. Key partnerships: again, we can't really lift the lid on these just yet, but rest assured that we're in late stages of talks with some significant partners... it will be big news once they're totally agreed, but as you can imagine, these things take time and must remain confidential until the dotted line is signed. I'm not lying when I say that you will recognise the partners we are dealing with - they are national names. I lie about a lot, but that's mostly to friends and family, I would never lie to you. So trust me. Big names.
  3. Testing, testing testing: our v2.0 is behind schedule. We have been testing it significantly over the past 3 months in particular, and are now 95% there. However, we thought we were 95% there in November. But this time we're totally there right? Well yes; 300 screens, 2 platforms (Android and iOS), and hundreds of bugs logged and fixed. We're looking to get the new v2.0 release out by the 1st April (2017, but we often joke/cry that it will be 2018).
  4. I pitched to the duke of York but he didn't like my face: the photo below says it all really.
dukey mcdukeface

I hadn't faced a stern look like that since 2004, when the headmaster shut down my chewing gum venture in school.

So lots to talk about, but nothing really right now. Shame really, I've had 3 coffees and could chat all day.

Rich

Published by: Rich Woolley in Uncategorized

December 8, 2016 - No Comments!

We got into Entrepreneurial Spark!

Evening, and yes - I know it has been a while...

Well the good news is, looks like we're going to be going ahead and closing our third major round of funding this month. But of course nothing is ever definite, so I can't say for sure yet... but looks like we'll be raising enough to help us smash 2017, and appointing 4 new advisors to our advisory board - they have experience as CEOs, CFOs of publicly listed companies - and one even invented the remote control vibrator! (not even joking).

But all of this is being worked on behind the scenes, so it would be prudent to keep our mouths shut about it for now.

One thing that we CAN say for sure, however, is... we got into Natwest's accelerator - the Entrepreneurial Spark programme! Read more about the programme here.

The accelerator will run from February, and will provide us with mentorship, support, and (arguably best of all)... sweet office space, conveniently located across the river from our current digs. Uncomfortably close in fact.

Anyway, more news will follow near Christmas, when we will be launching our ever-so-shiny-and-awesome version 2.0!

Published by: Rich Woolley in News

October 26, 2016 - 1 comment.

Milestones and all that

It has been a while since our last post, but that doesn’t mean that we’ve been doing nothing!

We’re currently amidst another round of funding, which can be exhausting at times. I’ll let you know how this goes in due course, but over the past month we’ve achieved a few milestones that I thought I’d share – there’s so much going on right now that we won’t be celebrating just yet…but progress is progress.

  • Loads of downloads:  we hit one of our major download milestones a couple of weeks back. Over the past 3 months in particular we’ve grown by an average of 30% month on month. Of course this rate of growth came with downsides; we performed a database migration and added an extra server to keep things moving smoothly, but this led to a short term service outage over a weekend earlier in October. It was horrible, but at least we got it fixed and it won’t happen again – and we put in measures to both report and fix these kind of errors within minutes now, so we can all sleep a little easier at night.
  • Doubled user engagement: most start-ups don’t share their user stats but we’re happy to say that our engagement and retention rates have doubled since July! We had a big discussion about about our engagement statistics back in June, and we put in a number of short-medium term changes to help keep people coming back before releasing our version 2.0 in November. We listened to our users and addressed a few pain points, which helped. But also, new features such as Item Alerts, and giveaways such as our recent Nandos £20 gift card competition have been more successful than we expected.
  • Version 2.0: finally being able to run through and test the new UI and UX, along with some key new features has been nice this past week. We sat in a room for a week back in April planning all aspects of this new build with Steve; testing the beta has been like watching our child learn to walk. It is just a shame when ‘our beta baby’ headbutts the fridge so frequently, but we’re sure this is just an early symptom of aggressive growth.

November is going to be a big month for Paperclip!

Rich

Published by: Rich Woolley in General musings, News

September 21, 2016 - 2 comments

Let’s all consume collaboratively.

We’re usually taught from a young age to be wary of the people we trust. You go through life meeting all sorts of people from family members to teachers, friends, colleagues and so on. Each new person we meet, we assign some sort of ‘trust score’ whereby we calculate in our heads how much reliance and confidence we have with that person, no matter what the thing in question is (a secret, your car, money or even their word).  Today, I think that's a little different thanks to technology and its self-governing attributes but I’ll get to that later on. Fast forward a number of years later and trust is the new currency in the economy.

The intensification of consumption, by way of collaboration, in the world has risen undoubtedly thanks to new technology and the start-ups that harness its power. Paperclip is a prime example of this, amongst other technology start-ups. We encourage you to buy, sell and swap goods from strangers you’ve never met before and instil a level of trust in them based on a self-governing system of reviews and ratings. 20 years ago, this would have seemed insane; stranger = danger (remember when entering your credit card information online was deemed senseless? I don’t.) Companies such as AirBnB have proven that this new form of consumption does work, and it is evident in both their business model and user base. AirBnB lets you post images of the most intimate rooms of your house to then post on the internet in an attempt to attract random strangers to rent from you. BlaBlaCar is another start-up which lets people use their personal assets commercially; it allows you to hitchhike in someone else’s car for a small fee as opposed to an expensive train or bus ticket. These two companies are examples of several start-ups that have utilised everyday assets to derive greater value from them. The evidence can again be seen from the amount of consumers using these services. Welcome to the world of collaborative consumption.

By definition, collaborative consumption is a social and economic system driven by network technologies that enable the sharing and exchange of assets from spaces to skills to cars in a way and on a social scale never possible before (Botsman, 2012). Consumers are starting to see the efficiency and value in trading, renting and bartering assets, skills and time in a fairly democratic, self-governing way. This is apparent by looking at the types of businesses that operate in the market today. As mentioned earlier, this is all possible thanks to the rise and diversity of technology. As technology advances by way of sociability, geography and mobility, it increases both efficiency and trust among people almost simultaneously (think social media, GPS locations and mobile phones; they've all increased efficiency and trust). What’s more astonishing is the way in which ordinary people have had their lives changed simply by engaging in collaborative consumption, whether that be by the higher income they now generate or the relationships they build through networks. It quite a shift from when the only things we shared were trains, buses, parks and stadiums.

So what now? As consumers and as entrepreneurs we should continue our participation in the collaborative consumption ecosystem and find yet more ways to expand its reach. By increasing our consumption collaboratively, we leave room for more efficiency in both the environment and the economy. Some firms are starting to realise this; Uber is already working towards it. As consumers, we can start by using more services like Paperclip, AirBnB, TaskRabbit etc, which will see the consumer better off. Adopting these types of consumption habits will be our biggest step towards a more efficient future.

Ziad.

Published by: ziad in Musings

August 15, 2016 - No Comments!

Buying a TV on Paperclip

After recently closing our seed round, we moved into an office and required some office equipment. Where could we buy a 50 inch TV quickly an easily? Using our own platform of course! So we booted up the app and were delighted to find a decent Samsung 50 inch HD TV going for £200 locally. Naturally, we low balled and sent an offer for £150. After a brief back and forth, we settled on £180.

When dealing drugs, it's advised that you 'stay away from the end user' (Layer Cake, 2004). However, when it comes to a tech startup (or any firm with customers to be fair), it's the opposite ; you want to get as close as possible to your end users. Simply asking them 3 things that they like and dislike about your platform will provide invaluable feedback - actually sitting with them and watching them use whatever you've created, even more so. Sometimes I like to camp outside the houses of our users and watch them with binoculars as they go about their daily lives. Once or twice I've even snuck into their homes and watched users as they sleep. Just kidding, I'm a tech CEO goddamnit, have some respect - I hack their webcams and watch them remotely.

The classic Paperclip trade-cycle from top right > left > bottom right... Make offer > meet in a safe public place > enjoy new item

The classic Paperclip trade-cycle from top right > left > bottom right... Make offer > meet in a safe public place > enjoy new item

Anyway, the deal went down at around 7:30pm in an Asda car park on the outskirts of Cardiff. The seller arrived wearing a tuxedo and driving a custom car, an eclectic combination that I've come to expect from esteemed Paperclip users. We cracked some jokes and made the exchange. Easy!

The TV now sits proudly on our office wall - we've recently been donated a PS4 by a friend, and Steve likes to watch Netflix on it during lunch. We'll beam our stats dashboard onto it during the days as of September.

Published by: Rich Woolley in Musings, Trades

August 3, 2016 - No Comments!

New feature: ITEM ALERTS

Each month we've been adding a single 'high-impact, low-effort' update to the current version of Paperclip while version 2.0 of Paperclip is in development. We normally do this by fitting in a 3 day development sprint somewhere in to the development schedule for that month. In a perfect world, we would then test it on the Thursday and fix/release it on the Friday. However, in reality we normally spend about a week or so testing and refining it, and then shove it into the app like a tiny duckling with one disproportionate leg three times the size of the other being shoved into a lake for the first time, left to sink or swim. Just kidding, we shove gently and with compassion over here at Paperclip HQ.

This month we had a few options in the features pool, stemming from various discussions over the past few months. We settled on something that we feel adds a lot of value; item alerts

item_alerts_htc

Item alerts will notify you when something you want gets added nearby to you

Following our latest update, users opening Paperclip for the first time since the update will be presented with a pop-up box asking them to choose up to three keywords. Once saved, you'll receive a push notification whenever one of your requested items becomes available near you. 

We feel this feature will definitely help our users get the most out of Paperclip, and it's worth noting that we're offering this feature - along with everything else - completely for free (unlike one of our competitors, who shall remain nameless but rhymes with Spock).

Enjoy!

Rich

Published by: Rich Woolley in Features, News

July 19, 2016 - 2 comments

Office Life

So we've finally moved into our new office; a startup flat in Cardiff city center!

Bit of background: we previously trialed some fantastic co-working spaces in and around Cardiff; Tec Marina, XIBO and Indycube and enjoyed the buzz of working alongside some enthusiastic and talented individuals.

In London, we're members of Google Campus in Shoreditch and often work out of either there or more recently, Quo Vadis members club in Soho (which happens to be Karl Marx's old house...). We'll continue to use these spaces for the London team, and for whenever the core team are all together working up there.

Team_co-working_montage

We're used to being nomads, but it's quite nice to finally have a base! Top photo: team working from Tec Marina in Penarth. Bottom photo: team (plus some guy named Zee) working from Quo Vadis, Soho in London.

When it came to choosing an office in Cardiff, the 3 things that made us opt for a startup house were;

  1. Accommodation: We need accommodation for some of our London, Czech and Turkey based team members to stay when we're in town. Conventional co-working spaces aren't always open 24/7, and we're pretty sure they wouldn't like us sleeping there...
  2. Cost: we could either rent a 2 bed / 2 bath / 1 parking space flat in the center of Cardiff to work from, or we could pay up to double that for just office space. We're likely to be working odd days and hours, so we need something flexible and so our own 'Paperclip HQ startup flat' arrangement works best.
  3. Pokemon: the other co-working spaces we trialed simply did not have decent Pokemon indigenous to their regions.Nobody wants to see a plague of worthless Magikarp floating past their office, so for this crucial reason we settled on the city center flat. Worryingly, we did actually run into a Rattata in the office on day 1, but we've since beaten all such vermin into submission.
This Rattata soon wished he'd never been born.

This Rattata soon wished he'd never been born.

This week, Steve and I have been busy unpacking everything and setting up the office while Alan takes a well-deserved break in Spain, Joe grinds out his PhD and Zee slacks off.

Next week will be our first week working full-time as a team, and we're all excited to play Pokemon together.

Rich

Published by: Rich Woolley in Musings, Perspective

July 12, 2016 - 2 comments

And so it begins… we’ve closed our seed round!

After months of meetings and paperwork... we’ve finally closed our first proper round of funding!

We’re receiving investment from the Welsh tech seed fund (Finance Wales) and a syndicate of angel investors based in Turkey (led by renown Turkish entrepreneur, Emre Fadillioglu), alongside support and investment from our strategic partners, GrowthTower.com and Reinto.cz - this takes our investor tally up to 21!

Some key details

  • Sold a chunk of equity in the business for a chunk of cash
  • Chunk of cash will allow the core team to live and work full-time from an office in Cardiff for the rest of the year, we're moving into our sweet startup house overlooking the Millennium Stadium on Thursday (July 14th!)
  • During the year we’re aiming to; release v2.0 of the app, expand upon our strong presence in South Wales and London, and experiment with / introduce our revenue stream
  • At the end of the year we’ve got a bunch of targets to meet, if we meet them it’ll be a signal that we are on the right track, and a trigger for further investment for the next stage of growth
  • Strategic partnerships with Reinto and GrowthTower mean that we're also targeting a foothold in other markets this year, starting with Turkey, Czech Republic and Slovakia over the summer
  • In summary: got cash, got targets to meet, will focus
Laughing all the way to the bank... or something like that.

Laughing all the way to the bank... or something like that.

What we're looking forward to doing over the next 6 months 

  • Moving into our sweet new office in Cardiff City Center
  • Releasing v2.0 of the app in September
  • Orchestrating marketing campaigns now that we have an actual budget
  • Getting into a 6am gym routine with our lead designer, Steve
  • Completing Left 4 Dead 2 in the evenings with the core team
  • Replacing Zee with someone competent
  • Monthly team drinks at the Bierkeller opposite

From now on we’ll be updating this blog every Monday with what we’ve been up to and what we’ve learned throughout our 12 month investment runway. Working and living together for the first time, we’re keen to share every aspect of the journey, not just the business side.

FINALLY!

Rich

Published by: Rich Woolley in News