Daily bread and barter

Mumbai_AgeScreenshot from Faida.com

After websites that encouraged the sale of second-hand products, sites that promote the good old barter system are making a buzz in the online market

Money can’t buy you love — it can buy the things you love. But what if you don’t have money? Well, in that case, do you remember barter? A trade practice of the past? A bunch of innovative entrepreneurs are bringing the good old days back. Recently launched Swapadda.com, Barterstreet.com and Faida.com are among the few platforms, where one can exchange goods for goods and even services — no money involved.

Faida.com started in March 2015 and is currently functioning across 12 cities in the country. Co-founder and spokesperson of the website, Vipul Paliwal is a self-admitted technology freak, fascinated by how the Internet can be a one-stop solution for all our problems and needs, although he attributes co-founder Gaurav Jain for the idea.

“After we failed in a couple of app-based ideas, we came up with this one and since then, it has been going good. It has been a month or so since we started, and we have seen a considerable traction among our consumers. The problem that we have noticed in this span of time is that people usually don’t know what they want in exchange,” he says. Also, how do you know that what you’re exchanging, is worth what you’re getting in the bargain?

“The system is intelligent enough to recommend goods, the value of which is equivalent to the product that you want to exchange. Also, one needs to quote the price of the item that one wants to exchange — that is just for the administrators though,” he explains.

Faida.com will particularly do well for those who love collectibles, reckons Vipul. “It can be one of the best platforms for hand-me-downs. People usually exchange things that are nicely maintained, so it can also work for the lovers of collectibles, like old typewriters or a harmonium,” he adds.

Treading on similar lines is Barterstreet.com. As the name suggests, the site works on a similar principle, but takes it a step further, to create a community of likeminded people. Ambuj Singh, the founder and CEO says, “I was always fascinated by second-hand markets. After college, I came up with this idea which could also be a platform to socialise,” says Ambuj, a student of information technology. “We are a barter house, and it’s extremely important to build the trust factor. We don’t want to make it into an ad classified,” he says. Giving an example of a recent barter, Ambuj says, “Someone on our website recently exchanged a treadmill for a photography assignment. This other student exchanged a bicycle for a Khaled Hosseini book. The value of the goods or services in question needs to be equal. Of course, no one will exchange an Audi for a pen.”

If there isn’t any money involved, how do the hosts make any? “We have a robust revenue model in place, but we’re currently looking at building traffic and traction for the site. The revenue will be in form of premium listings and ad space,” says Vipul. The same holds true for Barter as well, as their main motive is to get the site going at the moment.

Pariskhit Talukdar, a photographer finds the idea very convenient. “A lot of times there are things that you want to get rid of, but you’re not sure how much it is worth. With these websites, it makes it easier because instead of putting a price on the thing you want to give away, you are getting something in return that you probably always wanted,” he says, adding, “A bookshelf and an old tape recorder are the two things on the top of my mind that I’d like to give away. Hopefully, in exchange of a comic collection!”