Swapit for Social Good at So In So Good Impact 2 World Award

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-5-42-27-pmTwo weeks ago, I really sucked at pitching. Last week, I was invited to the So In So Good Impact 2 World Award pitch event.

This event was a bit different from the usual pitch events I go to. For once, I was able to pitch Swapit not just from the commercial angle, but from the social angle.

Social Innovation for Social Good.

Our initial idea of Swapit evolved around the aim of making it easier for people in densely populated places to buy pre-loved items. By making it easier for people to purchase pre-loved items and for sellers to sell (or give away) their used stuff, we always also wanted to contribute to the society in a whole. The whole process of re-cycling, up-cycling, re-using and re-purposing of existing things, has always fascinated me. If Swapit can just make a tiny difference to how people consume products and they re-use existing ones, just one more time, then we already made a positive impact on the world. Yes, it will be a tiny one, but it is a start. If there then is another person and another one and another one, then we might start to make actually a real impact in the long run.

Let’s be honest, waste production is a problem – worldwide. Especially in Hong Kong, where space is scarce, landfills are full and citizens are against incinerators,  we need to reduce the amount of waste we product.

Hong Kong produces 15,000 tons of waste every day. That equals the weight of 6,500 Mercedes S Class Cars.

So yes, if Swapit can provide a platform where people can trade their used stuff with others nearby and it removes the need for them to throw those things away, Swapit has a positive impact on our environment. In part, that was also one argument for having green as Swapit’s leading color scheme.

THE PITCH

This time, my pitch was different. Generally, though, it was definitely better than the week before at Cyberport. Perhaps because there weren’t many investors in the audience? Or perhaps it went better, because the great wine sponsor of the event (check out Luibao Wine Subscription) convinced me to try one of their Italian reds right as the first thing that night without having had dinner.

The audience was great and while speaking, I even heard someone launching Swapit for the first time. We’ve got this beautiful “Swapit la!” voice that plays the first time you launch the app, and that’s exactly what happened during the Q&A session afterwards.

It was a good crowd, we could get some new users obviously and we’ve made it very clear that Swapit has a positive impact on the world. There were 10 other great teams and some of their projects where absolutely inspiring. Many had a purely social cause and an NGO / community / donation approach, which was a bit hard to compete to. From a social angle, there are a lot of problems that are being tackled and I am happy that So In So Good, which is actually supported by the Hong Kong Jockey Club, is covering the social innovation field in Hong Kong.

Thanks a lot to our friends at EasyCare, we also have a photo of me speaking:

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Have you tried Swapit yet? It’s free. Get it from: http://get.swapit.la/now

Company Showdown: letgo vs. Swapit vs. Saily vs. OfferUp (by Owler)

It appears earlier this year in January, the online service Owler has created a comparison chart, which compared four companies in the peer-to-peer marketplace field with each other. One of them was Swapit!

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It came mainly from the angle of comparing the US/Barcelona-based, South-African-backed company letgo with the rest of the world. Given that letgo has now raised over US$200M in funding (and acquired its competitor Wallapop), and OfferUp has also raised hundreds of millions; it is an honor to be named along with them at the same time.

The “Company Showdown” was created by Owler, which describes itself as:

The free, must-have platform for outsmarting your competition

Funny enough, they have some kind of CEO-ranking, in which for some reason, I seem to score rather high. Yet, I believe everyone on the chart is doing a great job and some folks have a lot more experience than me and would definitely deserve a higher score.

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When it comes to startup blogs, there seems to be no other startup that provides as much secret insight into their doings, as we do with our Swapit blog! Make sure to bookmark or just simply remember our blog, it’s really easy: http://blog.swapit.la

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As of today, our blog has actually grown to a staggering 189 blog posts since we launched with our first blog post on January 23rd, 2015: The idea behind Swapit.

If you’re interested, you can check out the full overview on LinkedIn SlideShare: letgo, Swapit, Saily, OfferUp | Company Showdown

Have you tried Swapit yet? It’s free to download, free to buy and free to sell: http://get.swapit.la

When you suck, you suck.

On some days, you just have to admit that you sucked big time. I had that day about a week ago at the “Opening Ceremony of the Global Entrepreneurship Week 2016 China – Hong Kong with Pitching Competition”.

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As a result of our training session earlier this month, most other startups also participated in the pitching event that was held on November 15th at Cyberport. It was a great event with a huge panel of judges (9 in total!) and a rather gracious pitch time of 5 full minutes. For the first time, I publicly pitched our re-worked / re-organized pitch deck to an audience. Though, many parts remain largely the same since all the previous pitches, I did; the overall structure is more clear now. At the same time, I present our global vision for Swapit and how it can impact billions of people across the globe. That was the idea.

Yet, my execution during the actual pitch was not satisfying. I was too nervous and it got in the way of forming clear thoughts. In the end, that resulted in me leaving out some crucial key points, which I definitely wanted to communicate. During the following 3 minute Q&A session, I forgot to present some of the key data, which I had prepared as separate backup slides (e.g. demographics, popular trading categories, etc).

I sucked at pitching and I admit it.

Overall, my immediate feeling was that, it was a waste of my time and the time of the judges. After the pitching was over, I reached out to I think 5 or 6 of the judges and asked for feedback on my performance and Swapit in general. To my surprise, most of them actually thought that my pitch wasn’t as bad as I experienced it myself. Perhaps they were just being nice and trying to motivate me. However, they also had some great feedback in terms of Swapit’s business direction and how far we can take this. It appears, that many people are finally starting to understand the power of our technology, what our key advantage is over our competitors, and – most importantly – that it actually is an advantage over them.

Besides the fact, that my pitch performance wasn’t as good as it should have been, it was a great event and I was able to gather a lot of feedback about Swapit and our current stage.

I promised, I will be better next time. Soon there’s gonna be a new tale of startup pitching. Stay tuned!

Have you tried Swapit yet? It definitely does not suck!🙂 Go to: http://get.swapit.la/now

5 Minutes at Xpand

swapit-blog-communicationVivian from X:pand did reach out to me for an interview a while back. I was so busy that I kept it in my inbox for way too long, but finally I managed to reply and it has just gone online. Vivian had some interesting questions about my journey thus far, Swapit, hiring people and generally the tech and startup scene here in Hong Kong. Of course, I was happy to provide some answers.

Here is the full interview if you’d like to check it out: 5 Minutes With Patrick Kosiol

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A little bit info about X:pand:

The Xpand Group is a specialist Digital, Technology, Media, Sales and Marketing recruitment agency. We provide strategic talent acquisition services via offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Singapore and Hong Kong with further planned growth across Asia.

If you’d like to find out more about them, have a look at: www.xpand.com.hk

The Best User Experience – and nothing else

swapit-blog-interestsWe are in constant contact with our users. That’s important, because only that way we find out about road blocks they might have and things that might slow them down when using Swapit.

While Swapit has grown into a great marketplace app, where our users can trade efficiently, privately and in a seamless manner; there is always space for improvement. We will not rest if we can still improve the life of our users. These can be simple things, like making them smile the first time they start Swapit because a lovely “Swapit la!” voice comes out of their phone.

BEAUTIFYING THE SWAPIT LAUNCH EXPERIENCE

This is how Swapit on iPhone and Android looks like when you start it first day in the morning:

It’s informative and functional. We show such startup dialogs because we want to communicate to our users what has changed. We want to be sure they are aware of the cool new features we’ve just put into Swapit. Like on iOS for example, you can post your items for sale at multiple locations. No other app has that kind of feature!

While these dialogs serve a purpose, they are however, rather ugly. The launch experience is diminished by them showing up. They’re too text heavy, not catchy enough and are missing a certain twang.

That dialog does show way too often as well. For example, it always shows when after the app was force-closed or after the phone was rebooted. In short: it gets annoying.

That’s exactly the kind of feedback we’ve received from our users. Most appreciate our intention to communicate, but generally, it needs to be done more subtle and with more style. Granted, we have quite some space for improvement on that front.

CONSOLIDATING LAUNCH EXPERIENCE

At the same time, we also know that we have many other dialogs that might show up at app start. Say for example, when a user’s account got suspended, when we have a new version everyone needs to update to or when the user receives some referral reward, and so on. In fact, we have identified 15 different cases so far of what can happen when or better what we want to show at startup in each of those cases. That’s a lot.

So we are now in the process of consolidating all such cases and we are following multiple goals:

  1. Improve the Overall User Experience
  2. Beautify the Visual Appearance
  3. Simplify In-App Navigation
  4. Improve Manageability of Content
  5. Load Dynamic Content (e.g. promotions)

img_20161110_1508522For all of that, we defined a very simple visual structure for our startup dialog with the following key elements:

  1. Title
  2. Image
  3. Countdown
  4. Text
  5. Action 1 (Label + URI)
  6. Action 2 (Label + URI)

All such elements are optional, but generally, we would almost always use at least an image, text and an action.

At the same time, we are also taking care of what happens when we would want to show multiple startup dialogs at the same time. The best way we could think of, was to prioritize all kinds of dialogs that would show up. Say for example an “Account Suspended” dialog has the highest priority, so in case a “Welcome” dialog would want to show as well, the “Account Suspended” dialog received precedence to show up and lock the suspended user out. Of course, there’s an action offered to contact us and resolve the issue.

Furthermore, we combine this with a queueing system. Sometimes it happens, we want to show two things at a time, but one dialog is more important, so that dialog shows. However, the other dialog, which was not shown, might be important enough that we still want to show it at some point in time. So we’re putting in a queueing system that allows us to queue a dialog to show it the next time.

While I am writing this down, I am imagining someone reading it and thinking: “Isn’t all of this a bit overkill for just a simple startup dialog?” Well, I believe it is absolutely important to make sure our users are not annoyed by any step inside our app. So if our startup currently shows up too often and if it is just too ugly right now, we need to change that. But if we change it, we change it properly. Our users deserve nothing but the best.

ITERATING THROUGH DESIGNS

Since the onset, we’ve been iterating at an amazing pace. Not just in terms of Swapit app releases (we’ve released over 140 thus far), but also in terms of designs. We’re constantly evaluating, creating design drafts, changing things up, adjusting, adding design elements, removing them, and so on. Most of which is driven by user feedback.

This now is not different. We’re already iterating through different variations of our startup dialog in various conditions. We need artwork for each of them and we need to make sure that artwork fits into the overall design language. Here is a quick glimpse at how that looks like at the moment:

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Obviously, the above screen shot only shows 3 of those 15 mentioned cases, so you can imagine how massive our design iterations can be like. It is a time consuming process, but it helps us a lot to understand how people navigate through Swapit and it is absolutely necessary to be able to provide the best design and user experience to our users.

We will not rest until everyone is happy and we will make sure that Swapit works like and feels like everyone expects it to.

Have you tried Swapit yet? Download it for free from: http://get.swapit.la/now

Swapit at Cyberport

As part of being an incubatee at the Cyberport Incubation Programme, I took part in a training session at Cyberport.

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Together with other Cyberport incubatees and CCMF grantees, we have had a great coach that brought each of us closer to our individual goals. We never stop learning and every day we discover something new, something worth trying, but we never leave our final goal out of sight. Getting some guidance from time to time, helps a lot to focus.

At the same time, it was also great to hear from fellow startup founders what their challenges are and what they are trying to accomplish. There is so much talent in Hong Kong and there are so many founders out there, which have some great ideas. I am sure they will succeed in their endeavours.

More Swapit product news are coming soon. Stay tuned!

Have you used Swapit yet? Download it from: http://get.swapit.la/now

Tips for Making a Sale on Swapit – Updated

After we published our first Tips for Making a Sale, we’ve now doubled our number of tips from 10 to 20. All come together nicely in a collection of separate images, which are easy to digest and help you close your sale faster.

This is how you make a sale:

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Swapit makes it easy to connect you with potential buyers nearby. Just make sure you follow our tips and you will be able to sell your stuff quickly.

If you haven’t used Swapit, you can get it from: http://get.swapit.la/now