Ecopreneur Interview Series: Swap.com
Part 20 in a series where Krates Ng (co-founder of Mokugift the ecard service) interviews fellow ecopreneurs. Today, Krates interviews Jeff Bennett, CEO of Swap.com. Swap.com is the world’s largest swap marketplace.
1) Why did you start your company?
Swapping is an age old activity that millions of people around the world participate in daily. Swapping is the essence of social commerce as it involves people connecting and offering items they have to form swaps. Traditionally, it’s an activity that has happened offline and, often times, at the local level. As an Internet entrepreneur I thought there was an enormous opportunity to enhance this largely offline activity through the integration of mobile, social & listing technologies to form a marketplace. Like Amazon started with books, Swap.com has started to build its market with media products that include books, movies, games and music. We have expanded our business to enable offline swapping events, and we have also just launched the first mobile swap market with Swap.com Mobile for the iPhone. As we go forward, we will add more and more categories, similar to Amazon’s expansion of its online store. The key here is that Swap.com is building the world’s largest swapping community…online and offline.
2) Is there a story behind the name of your company?
Our goal is to build the world’s largest swapping community and to be the leading company in the category – a goal we will accomplish by enhancing the existing behavior called swapping that happens all over the world. As such, we felt there was no better moniker for the company that that four letter word. Swap.com is a verb, and it’s the category name. We were delighted to secure this coveted, and very descriptive domain for our company.
3) What was the toughest challenge in getting your company through the most recent growth stage and how you overcame the challenge?
I always say that a business like Swap.com is all about people. Our community of 1 million swappers are people from all walks of life that live all over the country. Our partners that offer capital, software, servers, marketing services are all people. Our dedicated team that continues to enhance and operate Swap.com are all people. When you have the high aspirations that we do, it is important to make sure that everyone involved is firing on all cylinders. People are not machines though. Managing growth enterprises is a little art, a little science, and a little luck. This brings daily challenges to tackle in many areas, and a dedicated team that plays to win everyday.
4) Can you describe the moment when you knew that your company hit full stride as a business?
We are delighted that Swap.com has emerged as the leading company in the swapping category. We are not stopping here though as there is a vast market out there that we want to capture. As we move forward, we will have to continue to expand and accelerate all aspects of our business. We are on our way – but we are not at full stride yet. That is what really gets you out of bed in the morning. It is a big motivator.
5) How is your company going to grow in 2011? And how can other ecopreneurs help?
Swap.com is enabling a very social activity. It is imperative that we continue to add functionality into our service that enables online and offline swapping activity. A key to this will be continued integration with social networks like Facebook, mobile expansion and a full schedule of swap events. We have also launched a cool initiative that helps children and schools called Swap4Schools, which allows our members to donate books to public schools in need. We believe that all of these initiatives will add to our growth. I would ask other ecopreneurs to join Swap.com or download the Swap.com Mobile App and list the things you want to swap. It is fun. It saves money. It is good for the environment. It is a movement.