Lootmaar is getting more creative about the ways in which they are raising attention for their auctioning platform. After a brief foray into trying to sell Tshirts of forgotten celebrities, they are apparently now auctioning the time of the celebrities themselves to raise charity.
First up is Mr. Jawwad Farid – the winning bid gets to have a 2-hour lunch with him, but more importantly gets to donate money towards the Book Group social uplifting projects such as the CAS school. According to the auction page, Mr.Farid’s time starts at Rs.1000.
Things like these are interesting bait for analysts like myself – if we dont write glowing reviews people are likely to come back and say that we’re bad people for not supporting activities that are "changing the world". They are likely to challenge us by asking us when we ever did something that tried to make society better.
I’m doing it right now – I’m giving you FREE solid objective advice on making Lootmaar better, and hopefully the society and economy as a result. Note: this advice easily applies to all of the dozens of startups and entrepreneurs trying to build online businesses. I could even claim that this advice will do more good towards economic and sustainable development for the right reader than Ahmed Butt’s TShirt will.
I have been impressed with the creative ways in which Lootmaar is running marketing for your venture – it goes well with your brand of thinking differently and being an empathic, small team. The Rs.1 iPod bid was fun, celebrity auctions are noble. All of these are creative, fun, interesting, intriguing, curious… but they’re not remarkable.
As Faisal said, we are still not using Lootmaar. I check the site about once a month and so far every time I have been there I only see overwhelmingly zero bids. We – the people – are still not using Lootmaar. Whats worse, I know of atleast one startup who could completely kill you in the next 4 months (and its not Nilaam or B4Bid).
You need to focus on – and by that I would mean do nothing else but – getting mainstream people to take the platform seriously and adopt it by increasing traffic, allowing for flexibility and create a network of sufficient trust that overlooks cultural barriers. You need to focus on getting the very deep fundamentals right – why would I want to buy a used item in Pakistan when its not a cultural norm? How can I trust the credibility of the online seller? Who actually controls and influences the purchasing power or behavior in this market? What is auctioning and why should I bother with this technical way of doing something simpler? Why should I consider Lootmaar leaders in this space and follow their insights?
If you’ve got zero bids for the majority of auctions, you need to ask this; if traffic isnt doubling organically every quarter or so, you need to ask this; If every one of your blog posts isnt flooded by 15 or more comments from different people from your consumerbase (not just other bloggers or friends) you need to seriously ask his – why arent people trying to connect with Lootmaar via its blog or product? Why is the blog still just a broadcast device instead of an active hub for its users to get together and discuss their excitement?
There is a difference between personal-scale and web-scale in online ventures.
Personal-scale is where you’re always only limited by the number of people on staff – where you can only deliver in Karachi at the speed it takes X number of people times Y mins per processing / Z time available. You need to find a way to isolate the number of people you have with the number of orders you can process and dispatch, whether its through process or automation.
Personal-scale is where you will only discuss new ideas or plans with friends or with people you can physically meet or know or get advice from, and when one of them says "Why dont you…!?" you take it seriously…. where YOUR team decides how to take Lootmaar forward and just ANNOUNCES what you’re doing to your userbase.
You need to stop doing that – because web-scale is where you ask your actual consumerbase or community or people who deeply care about your existence from the value you’re providing to them about your next steps and just do that only – where you absolutely refuse to listen to friends.
At G&W – we always only ask the community about how to take it forward, and so far not once – NOT ONCE – have they let me down. We realized long enough ago that our community of people who deeply care about G&W is a lot smarter than we can ever hope to be when it comes to figuring out what G&W should do.
Personal-scale is where you’d email or call your friends hoping for people to use your technology – where people would just suggest you reach out to students because they’re "active online" (the worst reason humanly possible). Web-scale would be to figure out WHERE are the people who would ACTUALLY WANT to use my platform and HOW do I get to them – are they searching online (SEO)? Are they asking on forums (guerilla marketing)? Do they have monthly tea parties in Interior Sindh… get to them. The website is just an excuse for you to reach people and serve them.
Personal-scale is where you would convince one person to do the personal charity via your platform, and then announce that on your blog, then get another person, set up the account, announce that, and more. Web-scale is where you would create a platform where any number of people can propose themselves to the charitable cause without having to go through you.
Personal-scale is where your brand tells me that you’re just two people in a garage, and hence cute. Web-scale is where your brand tells me that you effectively remove my barriers of participation – the blue bubbly color scheme and web20-esque about section doesnt help me feel like Lootmaar is a reliable, trustable marketplace with a mature network of participants who take our attention seriously – the barrier of participation in your case.
Personal-scale is where you’ve built the technology and are encouraging people to learn HOW to use it, whereas web-scale is to study HOW people are already doing things and build the technology to support that. Auctions just arent part of this society or culture as a norm (in the mainstream). Online auctions are even more confusing.
Personal-scale is where you will have to physically meet and set up every activity and solution you create around the platform. Web scale is where a simple blog platform you created would be virally spread to 1.2 million people nearly overnight, where many of them would then decide what to do with that platform (WordPress and professional blog-based businesses and hundreds of plugins). Where your web property becomes a prepetual motion machine (wikipedia) NOT requiring your immediately actions to keep it running.
Personal-Scale is where you maintain the technology and also are actively figuring out what solution it is and for whom – web-scale is where you are just an application platform provider… and you stay the heck out of everyones way to let PEOPLE figure out how to use your technology and for what solution for where.
Most importantly, personal-scale is where you build a solution to remove technical barriers to usage; web-scale is where you remove cultural barriers of progress using technology.
Let’s take a few examples now to refine this last point.
Every major celebrity who already owns a charitable foundation wants to be able to create events on it – what if a system existed to create fund-raising drives whenever, say, Imran Khan wanted to do the next SKCM Hospital fund-raising… lunch with him against bidding for SKCM… but not by going through you. Where, whenever they were doing a fund-raising drive, they automatically think of [platform name here] as a great channel to complement their telethons, and where they could completely control the brand, the value offered and the charity… and lootmaar was just the backend powering it at no cost?
What if this person of insight Adnan appeared on Faisal Qureshi’s Ankahi Show to talk about how our society lacks a sense of faith in each other – how smart would he seem, when he talks about how he’s solving that problem, by creating a trust network… a place where people put "virtual trust bids" into other people, and then those bids are used for further transactions (business deals, hiring and firing, and more)… powered by lootmaar tech?
Even if none of us are bidding on auctions, we are — as a culture and society — comfortable about hiring real-estate agents to rent out our properties. A brokers role is essentially to drive up value and prices for our property as much as possible. Why cant this happen without the middle-man via direct people to people bidding on rent? I’m not saying create an auction on lootmaar.com – create a completely new way for people to rent property which doesnt involve hefty fees to middle-men, powered at the backend by lootmaar tech.
Do you know about the hundreds of middle-aged home-makers women entrepreneurs who are working as independent fabric or clothing designers via hand-painted works? (I know about 4 in my immediate family) They all take orders from friends, but the more successful ones are able to hold exhibitions at hotels and sell goods there. Their sales proposition is the same as art – its the designs that make people pay a premium. What if these women entrepreneurs were able to find a portal that lets them build thematic showcases of their designs and price up the premiums (because of limited supply)? Wouldn’t it enable them to better distribute their goods and create greater circulation of wealth from the super-rich to the middle-class?
Wouldn’t that be remarkable?
Have you studied how vegetables move from farmers to your local sabzi walla and how lack of information is crippling the farmers’ ability to negotiate, and how the first-line distributors have the biggest margins in the whole process because they exploit that lack of information? Have you heard about how telecos are trying to help the farmers by providing access to daily market rates via their cellphones? What if a way existed for farmers with particularly good yields to have multiple front-line distributors compete with each other and drive down their margins just to get their hands on that premium yield – especially in times of shortage? What if a system like this completely disrupted the existing chain and enabled farmers to live a life of more self-esteem.
Wouldn’t that be remarkable?
What if people who had a reasonably impressive credit rating wanted a loan – lets say a business wants a working capital loan. Rather than going through the banks, what if a system forced banks to compete each other in driving down their margins just to get that A-listed premium client, thus invariably disrupting the way banks engage with customers.
Wouldn’t that be remarkable?
But you’re just asking me to buy books over a 7 day process, when I dont want to do that!
Remarkable is something that makes the head of state or of the industry call you up and tell you he’s speechless about the profound impact this could have in the way people work. Remarkable wins the Noble Prize.
If you want to change the world, then go out there and CHANGE it. Find a way to enable people to lead richer lives via your technology that only your technology can enable, dont just use it to raise money and donate it to some random charity.
Without that, "What if an online marketplace could be used for social good?" is still just hyperbole. Lootmaar.com is not remarkable yet.