New Blog URL http://blog.swapit.la

swapit-blog_searchFollowing my blog post yesterday about “Swapit Ranks #1 on Google Search” I decided to throw in an extra hour of work to do research on the latest SEO trends. While ranking #1 for your own product name is a very good thing when it comes to rather generic names like Swapit, it is still not the ultimate goal we want to achieve.

In the long run, we need to rank very high for search terms like “second hand”, “used stuff”, “marketplace”, etc. in English as well as their equivalents in local languages.

Google’s search algorithms are constantly changing. Just tiny changes can have a big effect on businesses across the globe. Yet, we had some elementary mismatch between our blog URL and our website.

At the same time, we’ve always had a forwarder called http://blog.swapit.la, which automatically forwarded the reader to https://swapitblogit.wordpress.com. While that worked well for normal humans, it basically cuts off the Google search spider at the first step before the forwarding.

Furthermore, all content published on this blog under https://swapitblogit.wordpress.com, did not have any effect on the content creation on our website http://swapit.la. As a result, all backlinks our blog generated, only lead back to our blog. Those backlinks are important for our SEO ranking and therefore, we need them to lead to our main website.

swapit_marketing-dollarWhen you’re a startup, many things are about money and how much you spend for what. In our case, I did not want to host our blog ourselves, so we’re hosting it on wordpress.com. You get a free sub-domain with the free account, so we chose https://swapitblogit.wordpress.com. If you want to map a custom domain to your blog, you’ll have to pay. For a long time, I’ve been resisting that, to save money and also because I thought it might not be that important to map our own domain to our blog. After yesterday’s blog post and quite a bit of research, I realized it is actually important to map your own and I should have done that much earlier. In the end, it costs only US$13 per year to map your own custom domain a wordpress.com blog. Sure, it costs wordpress.com literally nothing to offer that service, but that’s what they charge.

So the change has been done and it is working quite. All of our old links still work the same way they worked before. They’re just all forwarding to our new domain.

Our new blog post URL is now: http://blog.swapit.la

Now, we have the folks that might say: “http://swapit.la/blog is even better than a sub-domain at http://blog.swapit.la“. That might even be true, but I haven’t found any concrete evidence of that. Yet, several folks reported that such a “sub-directory” setup does somehow rank higher on Google. Perhaps that is true, I can’t really tell at this moment. As we are using Strikingly for our main company website, we actually can not easily map a “sub-directory” from that website to a separate blog. So that’s something out of question at the moment. At least until either Strikingly adds that functionality or we move our main website to a different hosting service or self-host it.

swapit_marketing-chart-growAnyhow, I’ve scheduled a task for myself in a month’s time to review the change in Google Search index ranking and re-evaluate if any additional changes are needed, and especially if this recent change has paid off. Until then, stay tuned for more on what we’re doing at Swapit and why we’re doing that.

Have you tried Swapit yet? It’s free. Get it from: http://get.swapit.la/now

Swapit Trading Trends in Hong Kong

Swapit’s user base is growing fast and our user engagement is growing even faster. While, we’re already getting users in countries like USA, UK, Philippines, Thailand and India, our main target market still remains to be Hong Kong. So for our core market, we are constantly monitoring the major districts of trading for us.

For you to get a general sense of how much is being traded where in Hong Kong, have a look at these two maps:

It is interesting that we can see clearly the most popular trading areas along the MTR (subway) lines of Hong Kong. That can have multiple reasons:

1) People like to meet up at MTR stations, because it’s the most efficient mode of transport in Hong Kong; and/or

2) Near MTR stations are usually the large scale residential buildings – condos, etc. So the majority of the Hong Kong people live near such subway routes.

If we however, zoom a bit further in, we can see some interesting patterns. Let’s take a look at these two areas:

Especially the Shek Kip Mei area (left map) shows clearly that the main indicator there is residential population density. MTR stations are nearby, but by far not as many items are posted right at the MTR stations, compared to the ones that are posted in residential areas.

swapit-blog_android_mapThe Central area on the other, shows clearly a concentration of item postings near the Central MTR station. Those are most likely either “Meetup” or “Work” location postings. Generally, population density in terms of residence, is rather low in Central.

If you’d like to check it out yourself, you can do that easily inside the Swapit on your Android phone or your iPhone. Just select the “Map” icon and browse your local map. You can also pan to other locations in the world, if you’d like to.

You’re not on Swapit yet? Get it from: http://get.swapit.la

Co-Working Spaces in Hong Kong – A Real World Price Comparison

About two months ago, the Swapit team moved office because our old one was way too big for us. So there is a lot of talk about co-working spaces in Hong Kong. Especially the government and related bodies like to talk about the number of co-working spaces available in Hong Kong – almost like it would be a measure for how dynamic a startup system is. And I guess, to some superficial extend, that might be the case.

We’ve looked at all the co-working places we could find. In fact, there is a really great list from the Jumpstart Magazine that we used as starting point for our research. It’s called: Complete List of Coworking Spaces in Hong Kong

While that list is very cool to have and it has most of the information one would need, it is a bit tedious to click through all the co-working places and be able to decide which one is the most cost effective. There various charging models all those places use. There are hot desks, dedicated desks, rooms, charged per month or day, in a combo for more people, and so on. It’s very easy to find a single desk.  But to find a place for multiple people that is cost effective, is not that easy. So let’s look at the following requirements I used for comparison sake:

  • Number of seats: 6
  • Hot or not: dedicated desks (i.e. not hot)
  • Rooms: preferably 1-2 rooms (got to store some paper files and hardware)

Those are really simple, easy to come by with, requirements and I needed to compare actual final prices for those. So for us the winner would have been:

  1. Ooosh in Lai Chi Kok: $9,000 / month
  2. Misso Link in Kun Tong: $12,000 / month
  3. The Good Lab in Cheung Sha Wan: $12,600 / month

The 2 most expensive coworking places for us would have been:

  1. Garage Society in Central: $43,200 / month
  2. Wynd in Central: $37,200 / month
  3. The Hive in Wan Chai: $36,000 / month

There is obviously a very huge difference in pricing! Here is the full list of our own comparison:

2016-03-22_coworking-places-overview

You can download the full document here:

To Co-Work or Not To Co-Work

So in the end, we decided to move within our existing office building, just to a smaller unit a couple of floors down. Hence, we’ve decided not to go to a co-working space. If you’re building a business a growing team and do some seriously creative, innovative and disruptive work, we figured it is more important to us to ensure we have a quiet office, without much traffic, with private space where we can leave all of our hardware around and which we can re-arrange as we wish at any time.

IMG_20160623_1421295-panorama

As you can see, we can even place our great Swapit T-Shirts prominently there. That’s definitely worth getting your own office for!

Have you tried our Swapit app yet? It’s free. Get it from: http://get.swapit.la/now

Swapit to Pitch on Main BREAKTHROUGH Stage at RISE

Yesterday, we pitched at the BREAKTHROUGH Semi-Finals and we also launched our Swapit iOS app, by the way. From 10 absolutely great Hong Kong startup pitches, we were 1 of 4 selected ones who qualified for the finals at the big BREAKTHROUGH stage at RISE.

mmexport1464403048408

On the last day of RISE, June 2nd, 2016, we will be pitching at the BREAKTHROUGH Stage. In total, 20 startups from Hong Kong were selected to pitch at BREAKTHROUGH to showcase Hong Kong’s homegrown startups. Check the schedule for June 2nd to find out the time: https://riseconf.com/schedule

Some more pictures from yesterday’s event at The Hive Studio in Kennedy Town. Beautiful place, by the way, with great staff there.

Did you try Swapit yet? You can go to http://get.swapit.la and hit download.

Welcome Vito Lee to the Swapit Team

IMG_3580You’ve probably already met the Swapit Team before. We are a small bunch of enthusiastic mobile app guys who want to revolutionize the way people deal with pre-loved items.

Pretty much a month ago, we have brought on Vito to our Swapit Team. He has 1.5 years experience in building mobile apps in different fields like remote controlling smart home appliances or connecting to different kinds of hardware devices from a mobile app (iOS/Android) using Bluetooth.

The recruiting process was pretty straight forward for us. We did actually have 4 candidates who were shortlisted and we chose to go for Vito in the end. We all felt he was the best fit for us in terms of skill set and character fit.

So here it is again: Welcome to our team Vito!

Why did we hire now?

As you might know, we raised some funding in December and again in February. About a year ago when I started to lay out a plan for Swapit in terms of product development and business development, it was clear that we will require funding to grow at the pace we need to. During that time, I came across this term:

“Alignment of Capital to Milestones”

For us to be able to raise funding, we needed a clear path forward – a clear set of milestones we align with the capital we want to raise. One major part of our business is to capture as much market share as possible. In the end Swapit is a trading platform and it will only be as successful as many users we have, and as much as we engage those users. While we feel very passionate about our high engagement rates, we do know that we require a large pool of active users for our marketplace to self-sustain. Read my piece on marketplace liquidity if you want to know more about that. At the same time, we had Swapit only available for Android devices. While we consciously choose to support only Android at the start, we always knew we had to push Swapit out to iPhones and iPads too.

So the funding we raised is aligned to two very important milestones:

  1. Bring Swapit to iPhone and iPad
  2. Increase Market Share to (still secret number) of Users

In order to achieve the first goal, we needed to hire a skilled developer to help us get to that point. We feel very comfortable with our choice thus far and we absolutely certain, we will launch a new Swapit beta on the App Store soon.

 

Stay tuned for our upcoming Swapit on iOS! Get yourself on the Swapit iOS beta list if you’re interested.

Want to try Swapit today? Download it for your Android device from: http://get.swapit.la

Swapit got covered by ButterBoom

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 11.56.25 amWe received some great coverage on ButterBoom!

Here are some of the quotes from them:

We spotted a $10,000 couch from Timothy Oulton and iPads at a fraction of their original price on Swapit.

[…] Swapit has rapidly grown […]

You can read the full article here: Swapit: The Mobile App For Buying & Selling Second-hand Goods

About ButterBoom

Butterboom.com is the ultimate guide to fashion and beauty shopping in Hong Kong. Our aim is to keep you up-to-date what matters in Asia’s fashion capital. ButterBoom.com is a digital publication showcasing all that are important to fashionistas, trendsetters and shopaholics in Hong Kong. ButterBoom.com reports on the latest events and developments in retail fashion from store openings to new brands and designers entering the Hong Kong and Asia market. Covering a broad range of styles from well-known designer brands to up-and-coming labels, Butterboom is the online destination for discovering fashion and related life style content including beauty, design and travel. Our Insider section provides a platform for trendsetters and industry insiders to share their insight and knowledge and gives our readers and family community access into the industry.

Want to read more media coverage of Swapit? Check out our Media Coverage category.

Swapit covered by Mingpao Weekly

swapit-blog_hkSwapit has just gotten some great coverage by the local Hong Kong magazine Mingpao Weekly. The whole article is in Chinese, but we’ve got our own English translation for you:

Pairing/Matching Users, Trade/Exchange Conveniently

Alex wants to achieve (economic autonomy/economic independence) with (internet/internet platforms). Patrick Kosiol, a German residing in Hong Kong, target the uniqueness of Hong Kong’s dense population. Developed a mobile app Swapit.la, using GPS to (locate/connect) users in different areas to find items nearby, reducing the time to close the deal.

Patrick is a software developer, when he became a father last year, he realised baby items on the market are expensive, but kids grow up so fast, the items won’t be needed a year later. But searching on second hand or swapping items groups and forums often find out the location is far after some exchange in messages, making exchanging/closing the deal difficult and annoying. So he started developing Swapit.la, using user’s device and preset locations to show nearby items posted. Allowing users to set both home and work locations to increase their posted items exposure, the in app chat messenger also has snippets with basic exchanging phrases to reduce typing time, very detailed designed.

“Hong Kong is very densely populated, people are always exchanging items or making second hand deals at the MTR stations, a lot of people want to get rid of their stuff, so this is very convenient. If this is Germany, it’s hard to make it work because the population is spread out.” said Patrick. Tailor made for Hong Kong, that is why the name of the app also contains the culture of local language.

Inquiry: swapit.la

If you’re interested in reading the full article in Chinese, you can find on the Mingpao website: 斷捨離 清空生活
(click “羣組分享 交換平台” on the right side and then “1” at the bottom)