SwapSlide enables the swapping economy to up its game

13 Nov 2017

From left: SwapSlide co-founders Tarik Velic and Shane Stanbridge. Image: SwapSlide

Our Start-up of the Week is Dublin-based SwapSlide, which allows users to ‘swap’ items or services via their smart devices.

“[SwapSlide] simplifies the barter process by only connecting individuals with a mutual swapping interest, eliminating unwanted conversations,”explained SwapSlide co-founder Shane Stanbridge.

“There is no cost in using the application. Categories can range from video games to vehicles to guitar lessons.”

‘Our mission is to create the fastest and simplest swapping experience on the planet’

Stanbridge explained that SwapSlide is centred around the concept that everyone has a different perception of value.

It has recently launched and is available for download in Ireland on Google Play Store for Android devices.

The market

“The market for SwapSlide is massive as virtually anyone can swap an item they have lying around the house. With that in mind, our initial target markets are as follows: students, console-gamers and parents,” Stanbridge explained.

He said that the traditional process to swap something is time-consuming. “Typically, you would have to post an item on a website and then hope and pray that someone will contact you. If you are lucky enough to be contacted, even then there is no guarantee there will be a mutual swapping interest.

“SwapSlide eliminates all of these unwanted conversations. Furthermore, there is the gamification aspect. Similar to the story of Kyle MacDonald – who started off with a paperclip and, in 14 trades, ended up with a house – SwapSlide gives members a platform where they can start off with a low-cost item and end up with something significantly more valuable.”

The founders

SwapSlide was founded by Shane Stanbridge and Tarik Velic.

Stanbridge has close to 10 years experience working in organisations such as Dell, Oracle and LinkedIn, alongside being a founder of a previous start-up.

Velic has six years of IT sales experience working at SAP and Oracle. His educational background includes a degree in marketing and an MSc in international business from Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT).

The technology

“From a technological standpoint, it is not complicated,” Stanbridge explained. “We provide members with a mobile application where they can list or upload items and services. Members provide details, pictures and category information so it can then be listed.

“Where we differentiate our application is through what we call the ‘SwapFeed’, where members can swipe across to propose a swap for another item or service.

“When a mutual swapping interest occurs, both members are provided access to a chat interface where they can agree on the swap.”

Stanbridge explained that the ultimate vision for SwapSlide is to change how people consume products and services by shifting buying behaviour to swapping behaviour.

“Our mission is to create the fastest and simplest swapping experience on the planet.”

Quality and quantity

SwapSlide has already built a strong following across various social media channels.

“There is clear demand for the application in Ireland and globally, as we also worked with DIT and a team of students to develop a market research report. SwapSlide was selected as one of the organisations to take part in the MSc international business consultancy project.

“During this project, a team of students work with a business to create a research report over the course of three months. This allowed us to test the market with an alpha version of the application as well as a combination of quantitative and qualitative research.

“We have also applied for the New Frontiers programme, which is a programme designed to help start-ups and includes some funding,” Stanbridge said.

SwapSlide is the culmination of more than two years of market research and the recent finalisation of the product specifications to create an application that will simplify the barter process.

“This involved securing a place in the DIT consulting project, where we face competition from companies such as Google and Facebook. Currently, the mobile application market is highly saturated, with over 2.8m apps on Google Play and 2.2m apps on iOS.

“Creating brand awareness will be our biggest challenge as we are a start-up operating on a finite budget.”

Begin to begin

Stanbridge said that since inception of the idea, it has been a long and educational journey over the last two to three years to reach the point of launching the app.

“Based on our experience, Ireland offers many advantages for those looking to start a business here. One of the biggest advantages for us was the scale of the network and resources available to help us understand what is required to turn our idea into reality.

“There are many options for start-ups with a solid business plan to gain access to resources and funding, such as the New Frontiers programme sponsored by Enterprise Ireland.

“The biggest challenge we found was time management, especially when you’re very early into the development of your business and have to manage different facets, such as app development, website design, marketing, finance management etc.”

His advice for tech start-ups in Europe who are on the verge of beginning their journey would be to make sure they, firstly, identify their target audience(s) and secondly, conduct a lot of primary research on that audience.

“As we live in an era where social media has an ever-growing influence on consumer behaviour, organisations need to be ready to identify changes in their target market and react as quickly as possible. Strong market research will also maximise a start-up’s chance of success, especially if launching in an over-saturated industry.”

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John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years