No longer will garage sale junkies have to wake at the crack of dawn to get the best deals on everything they never knew they always wanted. We spoke with creator Simon Beckerman about the development of the social media-integrated buying app Garage, and how it is giving the idea of buying and selling junk, er, hidden treasures, new life all over the globe.
Hi, Simon! I know you've always been interested in digital culture, so would you like to tell us how you came up with the idea?
Absolutely. I've always been passionate about the topic and I've always tried to bring PIG Magazine to the 2.0 but, as you know, all publishing projects with strong roots in the paper system really struggle to legitimize themselves in the digital world. It's a matter of culture and organization.
All great success stories are the result of the work of developers like Zuckerberg, Larry Page, and Sergey Brinn, but I think that the rise of apps is changing the game: long story short, you need to use your hands to interact with apps so you need to design them the same way you design an object. Just think about some Apple apps like the calculator: you interact with it like you were using a real calculator, and are mede to mimic real materials.
Because of my studies in industrial design, I decided to bring that approach to my product and so one day I sat down and I started sketching and drawing an app where PIG readers could buy the best products featured in the magazine, developing the social aspect of the buying experience. I wanted all PIG readers to know what other readers were liking and buying. It came out as a kind of blend between Twitter, Instagram and The Fancy and I was pretty happy about the result but then I became aware of all those issues related to managing a retail business. It was exactly in that moment that I had an epiphany and I realized that I had THE idea: what if we gave everyone the opportunity to sell?
I suddenly thought that the potential of a new eBay with a social root was enormous in terms of market share and growing opportunities.
So you did it all by yourself?
Finding the idea is just half the paththen you need to realize it.
I wanted to build everything properly so I needed a good development team and I needed a proper financial backup. That was the moment when my mom come to me with this article from a local newspaper talking about Renzo Rosso investing in H-Farm, a venture incubator based in the northeast area of Italy. I invited Andrea Rosso over for dinner, showed him my project, and he decided to introduce me to Riccardo Donadon, fonder and director of H-Farm, who liked the idea and decided to give me a chance.
After a soft launch in Italy and Canada, Garage is now available worldwide since the end of July, isn't it?
We first started in Canada with a secret launch just to test the app and after 5 days we opened it up to Italy. It went really well because we hadn't spent any effort in promoting the app and after a week we found ourselves amongst the top 100 downloaded apps.
In May 2012 we received a seed funding from London's Balderton Capital, which is the second largest venture capital in Europe and Yoox was their latest investment in Italy. It was 2001. They chose us because they thought we nailed the current issue about mobile marketplaces: everyone starts from brands and moves to retail and this is so hard, especially at the very beginning.
What is your strategy?
It's not a top to bottom strategy. This way is hard for us because the products that people usually sell aren't top-notch choices so we have to work in order to let the quality products emerge from the others.
Well, since Balderton got in we were suggested to move our offices in London.
Are you considering an Android deployment soon?
We're planning to release the Android and iPad version in one year. The Android market is huge in terms of devices but it's still undeveloped in terms of downloaded apps. Also developing for Android is much more demanding: different devices, different screens, different formats.
Well, thanks so much for your time!
It was a pleasure, guys!
Interview by Enrico Grigoletti