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Founded by Patrick Mackaronis, Brabble is a versatile social media community that combines the best features of popular platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, but also enables a peer-to-peer marketplace where connected buyers and sellers find it easy and comfortable to carry out transactions. We recently interviewed Pat Mackaronis on the thinking behind Brabble and how he sees the space evolving.
Q: When did you launch Brabble and how successful has it been?
A: We launched in 2013 and have grown to a user base of about 500,000 people. We’ve been successful enough that we’re on our second financing round, which will help us strengthen our partnerships with leading players in retail and technology and continue to grow our base.
Q: What is a peer-to-peer marketplace anyway?
A: It’s a much more effective and personal way for buyers and sellers to connect, a considerable advance over the old classified ads and the anonymity of, say, a Craigslist transaction. Your network connections give you a better sense of who’s behind each sale, and that can give you a better sense of security and comfort.
Q: You hear a lot of stories about scams and scammers that operate through classifieds. Does Brabble’s approach head them off?
A: Unfortunately, where there’s a will, there’s a way, and scammers will always find one. But the transparency of the network tends to put up a higher barrier against them.
Q: Is what Brabble is doing a new development in today’s digital/social environment?
A: It’s not “new,” per se, but we are evolving the concept. Facebook first tried the marketplace concept in 2007, and then discontinued it. It came back with a fine-tuned version a few years ago. Some analysts believe it will add $5 billion to Facebook’s coffers. We intend to get a piece of that action.
Q: How can you possibly go up against Facebook?
A: Well, we’ve used technology to add a few twists to our marketplace. Of course, we enable social interactions and sharing, but to better facilitate transactions, we’ve developed a patent pending technology for custom links for sellers that’s used in their posts. We call it “Startag.” We also have made sure it integrates with Facebook and Twitter so sellers can communicate with buyers beyond their Brabble network.
Q: What does Startag actually accomplish?
A: One of the issues with a lot of the social selling platforms is the spam factor. You get a lot of sponsored posts for big brands in your feed that have no relevance to you or your interests. The Startag allows us to track the data behind the transaction, like how much is being spent on what kinds of products. That is used to help sellers target buyers more effectively. Everyone benefits.
Q: It sounds as though this peer-to-peer marketplace concept is in a position to disrupt buying and selling as we know them.
A: Exactly. And it’s a market segment that’s really growing. Some analysts are estimating that the marketplace economy will more than double to $40 billion by 2022. That’s significant.
Q: How do you see it evolving?
A: The possibilities are really exciting as this eliminates the middleman and also increases transparency in pricing and information. One exciting development is how it’s changing specific industries, like real estate. There are platforms designed to directly hook up prospective homebuyers and tenants with homeowners. That could change the real estate brokerage industry as we now know it dramatically.
Q: Is Brabble your first entrepreneurial venture?
A: Nope. I was running a live-event promotion/marketing firm out of my dorm when I was a sophomore in college. Actually, I started off hustling lemonade and chocolate chip cookies at separate times when I was a kid in New Jersey, if you want to go that far back. I’ve also had restaurants and nightclubs in my startup portfolio. And before you ask, yes, I do appreciate a challenge. Brabble may be my most ambitious one to date. And hopefully my most successful!Activate Social Media: