Hong Kong’s Swapit App a Hyper-local Marketplace Solution – CEO Interview
I first met Patrick Kosiol, CEO of Swapit, at Echelon Singapore 2015 in June. I found his concept interesting and decided to add him to my startup list to follow. Since then, I get regular updates on Swapit’s progress through the newsletter. Swapit is a niche app that allows you to buy and sell things easily nearby. It serves a hyper-local marketplace for densely populated communities and can be scaled easily with minor adjustments.
The Hong Kong based company just announced a new partnership with Street Value Asia. The new partnership will give Swapit access to a wide variety of products and brands in Street Value’s overstock warehouse with discounts of at least 50%.
On that note, I thought it was time to speak with Patrick and he agreed to be interviewed. This is what he had to say:
Can you tell us about your work experience?
“I am building apps for more than 10 years. Back in 2005 we started creating ‘software for mobile devices’ and a bit after that Apple launched their iPhone and now they are called ‘apps’. Our team has created thousands of apps over the past years, which leaves us with extensive knowledge in mobile. I have also co-founded a handful of other startups in somewhat related areas like drones, media (movie & documentaries) and big data.”
What inspired you to start Swapit?
“I just recently became a dad. Before my daughter was born, I had to buy the usual baby stuff and that’s quite expensive in Hong Kong. My colleague William introduced me to the buy and sell groups on Facebook and I managed to get a car seat and a baby cot for less than half the retail price. The whole process to finally have the item you want, was rather cumbersome. Having built so many apps over the years, it was obvious that we can create an outstanding user experience on mobile, which in return allows buyers and sellers to find each other quickly and communicate easily.”
How far are you willing to go to see your idea become a success?
“My team and I will go all the way. From experience, I know it’s not easy to succeed with a new startup that wants to disrupt the presence, but we will see it through.”
Would you sell all your assets to bet everything in this company?
Are you doing a seed round?
“Yes. We are currently raising US$250,000 in seed funding which will allow us to dominate our local Hong Kong market and start looking at expanding across Asia.”
Can you tell us about your co-founders?
“We have a diverse team of multi-national heroes in their respective fields. Jonas for example has 7 years of experience in building outstanding apps and services. He also brings the excellence of German engineering to the team. Teddy has one of the most creative minds I have seen. His artistic approach and passion for beautiful designs make their mark in everything we publish. Being Canadian-Chinese allows him to melt both worlds into designs that appeal to our target audience. I am working with William for many years now and his practical relaxed approach to making our customers happy, has been essential in creating products our customers love.”
What are the challenges in industry of your start-up?
“Swapit as a marketplace lives from its marketplace liquidity. I recently wrote a blog post about that on our blog: http://swapitblogit.wordpress.com “
“It is absolutely essential to us, to generate enough liquidity in our marketplace to accomplish organic sustainable growth in the long run. This is our most important challenge to tackle and the one I spend almost all time on.”
How did you validate the idea?
“I have always believed that you need to get a first version of a product into the customer’s hands as quickly as possible. Therefore, we have launched our very first private beta to a hand-picked group of 20 people in January this year. That was only a few weeks after we started working on Swapit. We received great feedback and are growing right from there – all based on the feedback we receive from our audience.”
How do you plan to scale the business?
“While we initially focus on our launch market Hong Kong, we are planning to expand regionally soon. We can enter several very distinct markets with minimal adjustments to our product and are therefore ready to scale into new markets when the time comes.”
What platform was Swapit designed on?
“Swapit is built on top of the Google Cloud Platform, which allows us to easily integrate into any mobile platform. Furthermore, we are able to scale almost indefinitely through Google’s global infrastructure. We are also receiving support from global infrastructure companies through their accelerator programs such as SoftLayer Catalyst and Microsoft BizSpark. These partnerships allow us to built additional services on top of their offerings as well as offsetting costs and adding redundancy where possible.”
End of interview.
Thank you Patrick for answering my questions and I wish you and your team the best. I am expecting more good things from this mobile commerce startup as it continues to penetrate the Hong Kong market.
For more information or to download the app visit Swapit.la