EggDrop is a new mobile application for buying and selling goods in real-time with those in your local community. The idea is to improve upon the mobile commerce experience by using the technology that ships on modern smartphones. The app lets you use the camera for posting photos of items for sale, filter searches by location and receive push notifications to stay informed about the items you're watching, buying or selling.
In addition, EggDrop introduces an interesting pricing model - the "falling price auction." This enables so-called "frictionless" transactions that work without any haggling, bargaining, deals or discounts. It's as if eBay has been re-imagined for the mobile, social, location-based age.
EggDrop comes from EggCartel, a company founded in 2010 by Dan Zheng and Brian Lynch, formerly of Google and Playdom, respectively. Zheng spent 8 years at Google working on a diverse bunch of products from AdSense to Android. Lynch was an early employee at Lil Green Patch, a popular Facebook game that was later acquired by Playdom.
The idea for EggDrop was sparked back in the summer of 2010 when they realized no one was using eBay anymore - at least in San Francisco, where they're based. They also felt that the buying and selling experience on Craigslist was poor.
What people really needed was an easy way to buy and sell items without having to haggle on price, compete against others in a traditional auction format, and where real-time communication played a key role.
How it Works
The mobile app, available on both iPhone and Android (arrives tomorrow), is a classified ads service for selling goods. Snap a photo, post a description and list your item. You can then share the listing on Facebook, Twitter - and, in a smart twist, even straight to Craigslist. A Craigslist buyer is directed to a webpage that explains that this item is available for sell within the EggDrop app, and offers links to download.
Buyers can search for items based on proximity to their current location, as determined by their phone's GPS. Filtering options let you sort by item type, see photos, view items on a map and more.
EggDrop's "Falling Price Auction" & Game Mechanics
The other unique idea with EggDrop is its pricing model for selling goods. A seller lists both a starting price and a minimum price, the latter hidden to potential buyers. The price falls over a period of 72 hours until someone purchases the item. This isn't the same as eBay's minimum price, which is used to stop a sale if bids don't reach a certain threshold before the auction ends. Essentially, it just automates the pricing for the item for sale, letting the market dictate what a fair price should be.
To keep users engaged with the application after first download, EggDrop uses game mechanics. Buyers can "watch" an item and see how many others are watching that same item along with them. This encourages users to buy before their competition does, but they can also risk waiting to see if the price drops.
There are also "karma" badges which users can give each other depending on how things went with the sale. Good badges can reward timeliness of responses, those who went "above and beyond" - for example, someone who helped you carry the couch you bought down 3 flights of stairs - and other behaviors.
Bad badges can penalize negative behavior like "flaking" out on an appointment time or on agreed sale or selling a lemon. These badges only stay on your profile for 3 months - long enough to discourage the behavior, but not so long as to indefinitely penalize someone who was just having a bad day.
EggDrop isn't the only company rethinking local commerce. Another new startup, Zaarly, launched this spring with its own mobile, real-time, location-based market. So what's the difference? "Zaarly is a buyer-powered market," explains Zheng. EggDrop is more seller-driven. "We want to enabled local commerce and connect local buyers and sellers," he explains.
The mobile application is free to download and will remain free going forward. In the future, the business may offer additional services for a fee, like providing convenient drop-off locations for goods, or providing shipping services through third-parties.
But for now, EggDrop just needs to get through its launch and grow its user base. The company says it will initially focus marketing efforts over the next 3 to 6 months in large, metro markets including San Francisco, New York, Chicago and Boston.
EggDrop has received $1 million in seed funding in a round led by SV Angel and BlueRun Ventures, with participation from Trinity Ventures and Charles River Ventures. You can learn more about the app at EggDropApp.com.