Marketers have spent the better part of 2015 hammering home one message: That Millennials (demo or psyche, your call) value experiences over possessions.
We know from the success of eBay and countless online C2C markets that people aren’t perturbed by the idea of having second-hand ownership over an object.
At the moment, Pakistan has an estimated nine million smartphone users, which is 4.5 per cent of the population.
Driven by the numbers, Nalla Karunanithy raised funding to develop Sparklist, an app that he says represents the evolution of peer-to-peer classifieds. I met with Karunanithy this week to learn more about how it could become a better C2C solution.
There are a lot of existing players in this space. How is Sparklist different from them?
Sparklist represents the natural evolution in classifieds as we know it, a better solution via mobile to bring to consumers to post unwanted and/or unused items fast.
Users that have downloaded the app simply take a photo on their phones and discover items by just opening the app.
Sparklist simply made the peer-to-peer classifieds more natural by allowing users to chat, ask questions and negotiate about the products in a private chat within the app, exactly what we’d do when we are in a flea market or bazaar. Now you can do this at your own comfort and make extra cash.
When did you start and what’s the traction so far?
I have thought about it [starting up] since my days at Carmudi, seeing the gap in the market to bring the fun in the hunt for quality second-hand products to everyone’s reach and, at the same time, creating a caring community.
Then I decided to make it a reality in July this year, where we started the Android app development by putting together designs and flows on how the app might look to make this process fun and simple to anyone with a mobile.
Within three months from the initial sketch, I was able to put together a very talented young team here in Berlin and Pakistan to make the app.
And we first launched on October 15 in Pakistan, and since then, we’ve been getting waves of downloads and excited users giving us feedback. This includes some major mentions such as by HSY [fashion designer Hassan Sheheryar Yasin] in Pakistan.
How is the team split up?
We are all about the local community thus our team is split in one way only – Community Managers that mingle and listen to the community on what is necessary and what is needed, which then we try to make it reality via our development team.
Is there anything proprietary [in the app]? What’s the economics of the business?
Right now, Sparklist is the best app available for the Pakistani community to shop second hand. This gives everyone, from young students to ordinary consumers to professionals, access to much more affordable goods out there, from others in the community or small shops.
Most of the time, you can simply find [the] highest quality products and you still have the thrill of hunting and bargaining via the app.
While your money is back in your local community and helping create a caring community by prolonging the lifetime of any goods — and, if you are selling, making an extra buck is always a sweet deal to be made.
But we are not stopping there, we are working hard to add further improvements in the app to make it secure, more engaging public comments within the community, and find local services easily 24/7 via Sparklist.
Beyond the numbers on mobile penetration, why did you choose Pakistan for a pilot market?
It was the easiest decision I needed to make. From my previous experiences on working with ventures in Pakistan, I got to know the market, Pakistan’s consumers and sheer talent of entrepreneurs available in Pakistan. This allowed me to make this decision quick and easy.
Let me explain: The consumers in Pakistan are very fast to adopt new technologies and products, especially if it solves real problems and allows them to buy and sell faster and easier.
Entrepreneurs in Pakistan excite me, they are very passionate about business and are always able to think on how best to adopt any ideas to local needs to make it a success.
And finally a last publicised note (from my opinion), Pakistanis are extremely passionate and caring about the local community and saving the environment.
As are we at Sparklist, so for me this was a match made in heaven when I found Khizr Imran, a first prize winner at [the] first One Young World summit in Dublin in 2014, to lead our Pakistan team.
I’ve worked with a tonne of executives and entrepreneurs in the past who wanted to lead startups, but none as intelligent and passionate like Khizr [Imran]. His experience and knowledge in social startups, ‘get it done’ attitude and entrepreneurship mindset has helped kick off Sparklist in Pakistan.
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