Backed By Angels, Antengo Takes On Craigslist With Realtime Mobile Classifieds

You may not have heard of it, but San Diego has its very own tech incubator, called EvoNexus, a product of the non-profit industry association, CommNexus which provides startups with access to capital, talent and business development. One of the companies we wrote about recently, Fashioning Change, has just been accepted into the incubator.

And, today, another one of EvoNexus’ startups is officially announcing itself to the world with a platform relaunch, new iOS apps, and a bit of funding to boot. Joining (formerly Social Listing) and a host of others, Antengo is launching a redesigned mobile marketplace for posting and discovering realtime, local classifieds. (Check out the free iPhone app here.)

While this may not initially set your hair on fire, classified listings a la Craigslist are resources we turn to virtually every day, to find tickets to local events, sell an unused gadget, or find freelance work. So, simply put, Antengo wants to make it really easy for you to do just that on your mobile device, allowing you and your local communities to post, browse, and answer listings in realtime.

How does it work? It’s pretty simple. Once you’ve downloaded the free app, new users will hit the splash page, where they can browse listings immediately without logging in, using simple keyword searches. Antengo then populates the splash page with realtime results. For users who want to post a listing, Antengo requires you to sign up (Facebook and Twitter authentication are available), at which point you can browse through categories, find the appropriate one, take a picture of your item, enter cost, your address (or use “send my location” functionality), and post — listings take only a few short minutes to create and are immediately posted to the marketplace.

Both buyers and sellers can apply filters, search by categories, and message each other directly or make calls in-app, the former of which results in simple push notifications. Listings are searchable based on the time published, proximity to you (location), descriptions, or by photo — because, let’s be honest, you never buy something from a local listing without browsing through a few photos first.

Antengo is going after a pared-down design that makes buying, selling, and browsing classified listings simple and easy-to-use while you’re on the go. The design is focused around providing users with specific and immediate needs — selling last-minute concert tickets, a place to live, or someone to carpool with — an easy way to connect with local users looking for the same items or services.

According to comScore’s 2010 Mobile Year in Review report, classifieds are one of the fastest growing mobile categories, second only to social media. So, it’s clear that there is plenty of demand for a well-designed secondary market for mobile shopping.

Obviously, Craigslist has a well-reviewed app for iOS as well, and with a well-established name, it’s an uphill battle for startups looking to compete toe-to-toe with the larger players, eBay included. However, while Craigslist has a few not-so-shabby third-party apps, its apps still mostly rely on web data, and they haven’t yet killed the mobile user experience.

So, where Antengo hopes to offer differentiation with the bigs is through offering a platform model that can incorporate mobile classifieds into other offerings, including events. Antengo has been working with events producers to power ad hoc “live event marketplaces”, which provide attendees with a channel to find vendors selling food and merchandise at specific GPS locations, as well as public restrooms, parking, and special offers from the producers (like ticket give-aways, for example).

Antengo can also create realtime mobile marketplace functionality at events in the P2P sense as well, providing attendees with the ability to broadcast requests and offers to others in the crowd, creating a level of interactivity and serving as a utility to help event-goers save money through carpooling, etc. Tech events are another likely candidate for this kind of mobile marketplace, as Antengo Co-founder and CEO Marcus Wandell tells us that they have a commitment from Seattle’s largest tech conference as well as conferences in San Diego.

This is where Antengo eventually hopes to make its money — by capturing mobile payments at large events or grocery stores, where users might be able to pay using the app once it’s linked to their mobile bank accounts. For now, Antengo isn’t currently monetizing its marketplace, but they will eventually enable users to make purchases in-app.

Beyond Craigslist, Antengo also has to deal with at least nominal competition from apps like Zaarly, an awesome service that lets users hire people to do just about anything, whether it be to bring them a cup of coffee, or track down some quality Giants tickets, or find a private dancer for hire. Zaarly is a bit like the mobile Task Rabbit.

Antengo has a bit of a different use case, and now it also has $415K in funding from institutional and angel investors, including a “a GM at MSNBC Interactive, a former M&A exec at Microsoft & Vodafone, and the CTO of ViaSat”, to name a few.

With a location-aware, GPS and realtime messaging with push-enabled app, Antengo is hoping to take on Craigslist and others in the mobile classifieds space. The app still has a ways to go, but the design looks great, and I have to say that posting an add is frictionless, nearly instantaneous, and thus pretty easy to do. At the very least, that right there puts Antengo off to a good start.

What do you think?