B4bid.com- a Lootmaar competitor with a social networking twist

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B4bid.com is a Lahore-based startup that recently launched an auctioning platform to compete with Lootmaar.com.

Their twist on this story, however, is that their platform also serves as a social network that aims to bring together the auctioneering community in general onto a place to connect and get to know each other.

I think that is an interesting idea – it would reduce any fears or hesitation buys and sellers may have before participating, and could create a reputation network for sellers within their system, which would increase the likelihood of trustworthy transactions occurring on the system.

The guys behind b4bid.com have chosen Facebook as their launch marketing platform, which is a smart strategy – at launch-day they claimed to have gotten close to a 100 new members.

The only trouble with the site that I could see at the moment was that it is too closed up to get interesting people to get a taste for – I couldn’t see an easy way to find out what are the items on sale, or what type of people are on the network, without registering and logging in.

The problem with this experience is that it is discouraging people from “discovering” the network and choosing to join – and there is too little information available for people to make a good informed choice to register and join the network.

My suggestion for them would be to open-up a little bit more…. show enough content from their auction platform and network to serve as a “trailer” for new members who want to explore the site before registering or participating on it. Also, start a blog and use it to show consistent activity – networks form around exciting activities.

All in all though, it is encouraging to see the auction-space start to heat up, although I am still not fully convinced that the space is primed to take off just yet. Still, it would be interesting to check back here after a few months to see how things are going.

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26 Comments

  • hmm i also found it interesting….

  • Unfortunately I am facing ‘Timeout expired’ error.

    Osama: I have a post request. Can you do a post about business models of websites providing free services?

  • Yup i am getting the same error. This service looks interesting.

  • Newer auctioning platforms are finding it hard because of saturation or feature match with older, established players in some markets like the USA.

    Twists provide a way to differentiate services or products. There are a few ways to provide those twists:

    Social Network:
    Auction away while you connect with people you can trust. Also allows for regional community groups to conduct auctions that are closed to other community groups. An example would be a community group for hobyists. Members can hold private auctions for related hobbyists only.

    Alternate Winning Formula:
    The highest bidder need not be the winner. Another formula can be to declare the lowest, unique bidder as the winner. It pulls in bargain hunters but makes sure that a low bid will only win if there is only one person making it.

    Adnan Ali

  • @Adnan
    “Another formula can be to declare the lowest, unique bidder as the winner”

    That’s called Reverse Auctioning and is akin to gambling. And as things stand today, it is not allowed in Pakistan.

  • The website looks immature to me. As Osama suggest they should not force the user to sign in to see the items in the auction list. If they see their competitor (Loomaar) they have done a pretty nice job in this area.

    Moreover having a blog where they update people about features is also very essential. Otherwise people would never know what they are up to.

    Not having a blog (not telling a user whats good and bad abt b4bid) and also forcing people to sign in to see whats going inside their doesn’t make sense if they are really serious about it.

    In any case, I wish b4bid best of luck and pray that their dream come true.

  • Salman,

    Fortunately these issues are easy to solve – they might have a fix up in a day or so.

    Osama.

  • @Nash

    ReverseAuctioning is not illegal in Pakistan. It happens all the time … especially when things are auctioned by court!

  • True Osama, and I really hope they solve these issues soon. First impression matters a lot and they might lose a couple of members by delaying this.

    Having said that, I must say that I am impressed by their venture and I wish best of luck to the team of b4bid

  • MacDeveloper

    @osama,

    Looks like they aren’t set up to handle traffic from Green&White..

    “http://b4bid.com/indexgreen.aspx…

    Server Error in ‘/’ Application.

    Timeout expired. The timeout period elapsed prior to obtaining a connection from the pool. This may have occurred because all pooled connections were in use and max pool size was reached.”

    I guess the app went down with … ahem… 41 visits!?

  • looks like we have some more competition in the auctioning platform

    http://www.nilaam.pk/

    http://www.prlog.org/10056331-nilaam-pk-pakistan-1-auction-site.html

  • Yes, i’m getting the same timeout error. Its quite weird to see the default asp.net error page showing up exposing the system file paths along with the internal framework details (like yea i can tell they’re using NHibernate).. How could i trust the security of such web site? Very unprofessional!

    By the way this project seems to have been done/hosted in LUMS.. The namespaces on the error page show something like ‘EDU.LUMS.’ … Is it the case?

  • @ MacDeveloper

    Not Really, there is a problem with the connection pooling that we are trying to resolve, inshallah it’ll be up by this weekend,

    I apologize for the bad first impression :) Osama thanx for writing about us

    I’d like to clear one thing though, the auctioning part does’nt require a user to sign in, the user can search for the items, view the item page and all without registering with us, it’s only when the user is about to bid that we require them to sign in, as for the social networking side, I think it’s better to keep it a little bit closed for privacy reasons. But that’s just my guess.

    Thanx for the encouragement :)

    Ahmed Sadozai
    b4bid.com

  • MacDeveloper

    @Ahmed … it doesn’t matter where the problem is. Your visitors don’t care – they see lootmaar as a better platform and that’s where they’ll go. Soon there are going to be more competitors who, if execute well, will get customers as well. Right now, your site looks like something done by amateurs from the design point of view as well as actual implementation.

    I guess, you are about to learn the realities of launching a product the hard way!

  • @MacDeveloper…. I totally agree with the users not caring about where the problem is and all…. I was simply replying to your remark….

    “Looks like they aren’t set up to handle traffic from Green&White..”

    No need to get all hyper about it and giving remarks like……. “they see lootmaar as a better platform and that’s where they’ll go” :) Please speak for urself and not the other millions of pakistani internet users….

    As for lootmaar, i love the site…. :)

    If i’ve offended you in any way, I apologize…. i’m counting on the experience and advice of all u people….

    Ahmed.

  • MacDeveloper

    Ahmed, I am giving you first hand honest opinion. You don’t need advices, I am sure you are capable of doing things on your own. You need people’s opinions so that you can make your services better. By the way, there aren’t many people here who can give you advices anyway. Who has a “successful” online business who can give you advice about it? Everyone can only give opinions here.

    Also if I say that people will go to lootmaar, they will go! Simply because I don’t know you or hate you … i am giving my honest opinion which probably is shared by others.

    It’s also not about getting hyper, when you get your product out, expect some honest feedback – which can get harsh or even downright dismissive! That’s the way it is … If you arrange a press conference with such a product, you have no idea how quickly they are going to dismiss it … this is real world, not business school where you’ll get encouragement for the effort!

    In my opinion, you need to HATE lootmaar. You need to have the urge to kill it, overtake it, be a better platform. You have to see your competitors and be better than them at all times. Again, it’s business – you are going to build your life around it so you have got to be serious about it.

    You need to be aggressive and take these comments personally. Fix all problems and stop loving competitors and having “directory access denied” errors.

  • Hehe MacDeveloper sure is giving some tough love to Ahmed here. MacDeveloper: It’d be good to also comment with your real name so that Ahmed can be sure he’s getting feedback from some solid experience.

    Ahmed: remember you dont need to be sorry for what you’ve built – right now you’re doing a good job leveraging facebook for marketing so all you have to do is make your critics eat your words in a few months.

  • @ MacDeveloper that was some good straight and hard hitting advice, works for all startups

    @ Ahmed remember every one who is willing to give a shot will come back with criticism you need to listen to and pick up the advice.

    bye the way server error did not allow me to sign up but i loved the message made me smile, keep up the sprit

    “Bad Bad Bad Server!
    No Luddoo fo you!”

  • Yes, the LUDDOO page is gonna hide all the Server Errors and other Unwanted things 😛

    We are half way through with fixing the site, all the criticism and opinions are noted….

    It’s shocking to hear MacDeveloper say that our site looks like the work of amateurs from the design point of you….. because we really liked our front end :(

  • That happens – there have been countless times when I felt a story at G&W was “perfect” and would immediately become viral where it would get a ho-hum response or someone coming back and adding some reality to the mix.

    Looking through your customers’ eyes is absolutely critical because it will help add the humbling balance to things.

  • ‘Timeout expired’ error!!!!!

  • @Younas: I guess we’ll have to see in 23 days! So far, doesnt look like we need to keep our hopes up.

    Its funny that they’re issuing press releases before launch though

  • Nilaam claims its the #1 website for auctioning and it hasn’t even launched yet! Talk about PR BS! Plus their website looks like a 1995 experiment gone bad :)

    Anyhow, I don’t think b4bid has just Lootmaar to worry about. As a matter-of-fact, both have a whole bunch of people to compete against:

    http://www.bolee.com.pk (working since 2001)
    http://www.mallbazar.com
    http://www.allbusiness.com.pk
    http://www.pakistanauction.com

    Then there are specialized verticals auctioning sites for cars and real-estates.

  • Osama, I think they are up to something.

    Look at this
    “www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/003200803191524.htm”

    Anyways we will get to know about it in 20 days 17 hours 22 mins and 5 seconds :)

  • Interesting…. atleast they seem to have a very good idea of what makes auction sites tick.

    They’re also coming in with the press-release approach of disseminating information through mainstream media – thats always good to gain volumes, although I dont know how successful it was for GuruEarth.

    Yes, lets see, but one things for sure – they’ve got some good money behind them. Should be an interesting case study of startups survive.

    Also, its interesting to see how little background checks journalists actually do – this #1 auction site stuff is on every paper that’s covered them… probably because it was written on the press release and no one bothered to check

  • MacDeveloper

    By the way, what’s the payment model for most of the auction sites? Do they have credit cards only or checks and other things work as well? How do sellers get paid etc.?

    Just wondering…

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