If you are based in Hong Kong, there is a high chance you’re part of the Facebook group swap-it-hk. In the forum of 46,000, members post used furniture or clothes for a chance that someone will be interested in picking up the item at a pre-set cost.
Swapit was launched earlier this year by entrepreneur Patrick Kosiol. The local marketplace and app announced today that they have raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding from Aria Ventures, a division of The Aria Group (ARIA).
The idea came when Kosiol, who had previously been building apps for over 10 years in different variations, received news that he was going to be a father.
“At the time, my colleagues introduced me to a buy-and-sell group, and I managed to find some baby products. But there were many pain points to that whole process to get what you want. We thought we could build an app that would make it much easier to make it clear what you want,” says Kosiol, who has been living in Hong Kong for the past eight years.
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Swiping away the competitors
One of the pain points Kosiol experienced was the process of picking up items. Let’s say you could find that ideal couch, but now you have to deal with the tricky logistics and costs of transporting it halfway across the city.
“If you’re in Sheung Wan [East side] you don’t want to buy something from Chai Wan [West side]. You want to be close, and you need direct communication,” says Kosiol.
This is the “hyperlocal” component in his app, which encourages trading with people nearby.
“We believe Carousell and Duriana [Malaysia-based competitor] are much more passive products in the sense that they don’t have a proactive component to reach out to potential clients nearby,” says Kosiol.
With the funding, Swapit will look into expansion outside of Hong Kong, into other densely-populated APAC cities.
Aria Ventures is a division of The Aria Group, a Hong Kong-based family office that provides early-stage seed funding to technology startups globally. Kevin Kwong, CEO and Managing Partner at ARIA, will join Swapit’s board of directors.
Swapit has participated in the SoftLayer Catalyst, Microsoft BizSpark and Facebook’s new FbStart programme.