Three Zappos alums are trying to replicate the garage sale experience on your smartphone — and their startup Rumgr just raised a $500,000 seed round from a group of investors that includes Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh.
Co-founder Dylan Bathurst says the basic idea came from his own attempts at selling furniture before a move. When users open the app, they’re presented with a list of goods that people nearby are offering for sale. If they see something they like, there’s a public chat associated with each item, where they can ask the owner questions. And if you’re ready to make a purchase, you can negotiate the price, then go to a private chat to work out the hand-off details.
An early version of Rumgr is already live, but the startup is launching an update today that includes a separate screen for making offers, a map of nearby sales, and new tabs for tracking what you want to buy and sell. (It’s currently iPhone-only.)
Now that Bathurst and his team are actually launching a company, they’ve discovered that there are, in fact, other garage sale-type services out there — and of course there’s always Craigslist. The difference, says co-founder Ray Morgan, is that Rumgr wants to fundamentally reinvent the experience for a new device.
“We’re not trying to replicate Craigslist on the phone,” he says.
For one thing, Rumgr is trying to make the listing process as easy as possible. You just upload a photo and that’s it — no description necessary. And the app doesn’t allow users to search for a specific category, like couches or beds. It sounds like the company isn’t completely ruling out a search feature in the future, but Morgan says that’s not the point. Instead, users are supposed to stumble on random, cool stuff, just as they would at a garage sale.
Bathurst and Morgan admit that it may be a challenge to attract enough people in each location for the app to be useful, but they say Rumgr can become a vibrant community with a relatively small core of engaged, connected users — which is what happened in early tests, with only 40 or so of the team’s friends and colleagues.
In addition to Hsieh, Rumgr’s investors include Zappos CTO Arun Rajan, Fred Mossler, and Andrew Donner, CEO and owner of Resort Gaming Group. Following Hsieh’s vision of revitalizing downtown Las Vegas and turning it into a startup hub, Rumgr is based in Las Vegas. (After all, as former Zappos employees, Bathurst, Morgan, and their third co-founder Alex Coleman already live there.) Among the items in their office? A whiteboard purchased off Rumgr.