Love buying and selling second-hand stuff locally online? There’s an app for that.
Just this week, four local Provo entrepreneurs launched Flip, an app that they say makes local buying and selling of used items safer and easier. The app has been in beta for the past few months, but was fully functional on both iOS and Android for Utah Valley users July 28.
Matty Gay, a current Brigham Young University advertising student, is the idea man behind the Flip app. Last October, he saw someone using an app at a BYU game that seemed to him as the perfect flipping app. It wasn’t — the app was for something else entirely — so he set out to create his own with help from a smart group of friends.
Gay is an avid “flipper” — he’s been buying golf clubs and other items, cleaning them up, and then selling them for a profit for a number of years. He first used Craigslist in his hometown in California, and has been using KSL classifieds while living in Provo.
But even though he’s a young, fit, 20-something, he’s had a few moments of concern for his safety when meeting people for transactions. One time he was meeting a man in a Panda Express parking lot in the evening. It was dark, and the man was late. As he waited, Gay realized the precarious position he was in.
“Nothing happened, but those thoughts came in,” Gay said. That same worry, and he knows it can be an even bigger worry for women, is one of the main reasons behind Flip.
“The difference between Flip and KSL or Craigslist, is they are sketchy. People don’t know who they are meeting up with, and they have to give out personal information to make the transaction. That’s why we have a lot of safety features built into the app,” Gay said.
Flip users are protected on both ends of the transaction. All users sign up with their Facebook account, so both sides can see they are dealing with a real person. Both the buyer and seller are protected, though, because only their first names and pictures are given with their listing — no other Facebook information is shared. Additionally, all messaging is done within the app itself, so there is no exchange of personal phone numbers.
One of the major safety differences touted by Gay is their “Trading Posts.” Flip has partnered with local businesses to have a safe, well-lit, public place for buyers and sellers to meet for transactions. Currently, there are four Flip Trading Posts: The Wall on BYU campus, the Coffee Pod in Provo, Eli’s Old-Fashioned Ice Cream and Soda Shop in Payson, and Gameland World in Spanish Fork. These businesses also offer special discounts to Flip users when they are there. Gay is currently working on partnering with businesses in the northern part of the county as well.
The other significant difference between Flip and other local classifieds, Gay said, is how quickly users can post their item. In less than a minute, a user can have an item up and live. With just a few clicks, a seller can take a picture of their item with their smartphone, add text, set their asking price, and it’s up for sale.
“On KSL, it takes up to 20 minutes to post an item. You can post 10 items in that same amount of time, with Flip,” said Tom Brinton, fellow entrepreneur.
Brinton’s looks make him appear to be the accountant of the four-man group, but those glasses hide his mad artistic app design skills. Logan Gunnell is the computer science guru behind the app, and looks the part with shaggy hair and a close-cropped beard. Jared Gay, Matty Gay’s older brother, is the solid, but also bearded, public relations man behind getting the word out and targeting the market.
Though all in their 20s, the men understand the need to target their market to grow the app’s viability. They’ve already been spreading the word through their version of “guerilla marketing,” reaching out to local university students and young families through social media channels.
“They have smartphones and are mobile. They’re also transitional, moving from place to place, and they need something affordable, or they need to get rid of things easily,” said Jared Gay.
The group is also starting out smaller, so they can scale easily.
“Right now, we’re not going for larger items, like boats and autos,” Brinton said. “We’re targeting electronics, bikes, clothing and small furniture. It’s the smaller stuff that maybe you didn’t think of selling, but now it’s so easy, you might as well.”
The app is free, and they all have other income sources while they get Flip up and running. But they can see the monetizing options down the road. In the future, as they grow from the roughly 2,500 users they currently have, they’ll be able to charge a small fee to businesses that are Trading Posts, as they will be driving traffic to the stores.
Gunnell also said they will be able to offer Paypal-like services integrated into the app, so buyers can pay sellers within the app. They could realize a small percentage from those transactions. Brinton said they could also offer a paid featured item service, where users can pay to “get more eyeballs on their items.”
Regardless of how they monetize the app, it will not detract from or interrupt the user experience, which they all want to be a fun one.
“What we choose to monetize on will be what is best to complement the user experience. We want to monetize where it makes sense in what they are doing,” Jared Gay said.
Though Flip came out of beta with a couple thousand fans, and hundreds of items already listed and selling, it’s not where it could be, the group said.
“People here are really open to trying new things, and this is a great area for tech startups. But for Flip to really be awesome, we need more users,” Matty Gay said.
To learn more, go to whatisflip.com.