What is Spekios?

The guys at came up with this awesome description of what Spekios is all about:

Spekios re-energizes the power of the buyer by turning the traditional online classifieds model inside out. Carving a new dynamic in the market, Spekios lets buyers place just a single post of what they want, so multiple sellers can do the hard work and bid for their business. With a “set-and-forget” approach, buyers can relax and let the whole marketplace come to them, so they can achieve the best possible prices on the highest quality products. With Spekios, everyone else does the hard work – so you can just enjoy your new toy.

How Spekios Works

Check out how the reverse auction system we’re implementing here at Spekios.com works. Think of it as a reverse craigslist.

How Spekios Works

Innovative approach vs Innovative idea

It’s interesting to see how the same idea can have different outcomes when different people try their take on it. Take Quora.com for example, which seems to be on an impressive ride to the top in terms of popularity. The concept of posting a question and letting others answer it by no means new. In fact, it is exactly what Yahoo Answers did (and failed). The same can be said about Facebook sharing the same core idea as MySpace, or stackoverflow being just another forum-like site. Innovation in the sense of true product or service creation did not happen in the case of these sites. They did not break new grounds with innovative products like eBay or Amazon did back in the days of internet inception. At its core, one could even say the sites mentioned were mere clones of the already existing ones, and it’s very likely what the big players thought about them when they first launched.

So if the idea itself is not what made them stand out, what is? Better funding? Better leaders? I believe they stood out because of one crucial factor: execution.

It seems to me like there’s a wave of innovation not so much in the idea world but in the execution part of the idea. Sites like Groupon. and LetMeGo are just a couple of more examples that come to mind of services trying to solve decade old problems. The difference is that, instead of creating a clone with useless “extra features”, they focused on one single twist to the de facto model and were able to stand out with a true innovative approach.

Facebook did this by focusing on targeted, highly exclusive user demographics. Quora is doing it by focusing on expert answers by expert people. The site itself is designed in such a way as to leave the average Joe out from answering questions in a stupid, non-helpful way (e.g. Yahoo Answers). You should also check out LetMeGo.com if you’re interested in yet another example.

These are just a few examples of how execution is just as important as the idea itself, if not more.

So what other online business models have stagnated over the years and are in desperate need of an innovate twist to come along?

Going on vacation!

After 2 years working non stop, I’m taking a well deserved break and heading to Mendoza, Argentina.
Looking to step back from everyday city chaos and dive into the openness Mendoza has to offer. Coming back in 10 days recharged and ready for what 2011 has to offer. Until then 🙂

Messages vs Notifications

Lately we’ve been working on a messaging system to alert users that something related to a product they are associated with has changed. This could be anything from the product being edited, users commenting on it, products being sold, etc. It seemed like a pretty straight forward thing to develop. All we had to do was develop a messaging system (a la email we thought), that would generate new messages every time changes were made, and deliver those messages to the user’s inbox.

We began working on adding this new feature to our site, and everything was going smoothly until a philosophical question arose from one of our developers: “What is a message?”. He went on to explain that “We are sending messages to our users, but the one who is really generating them is our system, not real users”.

We stopped working and gave this idea some thought, and after a while, we pretty much all got what he was talking about. A message implies there is a certain exchange of information. A back and forth flow between a sender and a receiver. There is no such flow in a model where messages are being automatically generated by a computer system. Since our users cannot reply to those messages, they are not really messages; hence, we were taking the wrong approach.

What we really should’ve been developing from the beginning was not a messaging system, but a notifications system. The difference is subtle, true, but it’s a difference nevertheless. Besides the difference we mentioned earlier about not being able to reply to notifications, there is also another issue regarding them. They are associated with dynamic behavior and messages are not.

Even outside the realm of computers and internet, notifications makes us think in things that are happening right now, like being notified of a fire emergency, or that our flight is arriving earlier. Messages on the other hand, are static. Just by putting the word “Inbox” into Spekios, we would be giving out the idea that the in-site messages are like emails, and can be ignored due to, let’s face it, a high probability of them being insignificant. That is not what we are going for. We want the users to feel that the notifications the website shows are truly significant to them, or else the system wouldn’t be bothered with wanting to get in touch with them right now.

For this reason, messages system went out the window, and we’ve since began working on a notifications system 🙂

What is the best way to promote a startup and attract a decent amount of users to it?

Check out this question I’ve just asked on Quora

What is the best way to promote a startup and attract a decent amount of users to it? Write an answer on Quora

The value of Disruption

There’s a website I like and follow which is LetMego that has, in my opinion, a very innovative service. It is one of those rare websites that come along every now and then that tries to solve a problem you probably didn’t even know existed.

This is extremely valuable since when someone offers a solution to an otherwise ‘inexistent’ problem, it doesn’t mean that such problem never existed before. On the contrary, it usually means that the current model is so established in people’s mind that it blinds them of an alternative and sometimes better way of doing things.

The dark side of settling for only one model and not questioning the status quou is that it leads to a lack of innovation. It leads to big players imposing their ideas and dictating how users should behave instead of listening to what they are really saying.

Take LetMego for example. For years users have been looking for accommodation online by browsing tens if not hundreds of different hotel’s websites, looking for reviews, sending out mails to each one of them, etc. From a personal point of view, I simply accepted that this was how this industry worked and never even questioned if there was a better way of looking for accommodations online. Some people tried to organize this information into a single centralized website, but the model was basically the same. I still had to manually search through many accommodation options.

With that in mind, here is something to think about which I believe to be at the heart of Letmego’s philosophy… Why should the customer be left with the labor intensive task of sorting through hundreds of different accommodation options?

As a side note, I have no relation whatsoever to the LetMego website or any of its employees. This is just my personal take on what I believe to be a great, innovative startup.

Follow Letmego on Twitter