Our second Open for Business startup is iKringloop, an app that helps urban dwellers give away their unwanted things to people who can use them. The team at iKringloop launched the beta version of the app in late June for Android and iPhone platforms. Since the launch, the app has been downloaded more than 1,800 times, with people already posting and exchanging items on a daily basis.
So how does it work?
Say you buy a new couch. What do you do with the old one already sitting in your living room? Instead of waiting for your city’s bulky trash pickup day, or just putting it on the street and hoping someone will pick it up, you can list it in the iKringloop app.
It’s a simple system. Users take a photo of their lamp, chair, refrigerator, or whatever they want to give away, note the condition and location, and post it on iKringloop. People looking for the item find it through a search in the app, and then contact the owner to make an appointment to pick it up.
Users can share their items right from their smartphones. When an item is posted, the app also sends an e-mail to nearby thrift and charity shops (“kringloopwinkels”). If it turns out no one is interested in the item, the app will enable users to contact their local municipal or commercial recycler to arrange for a pickup.
The app creates a win-win situation for everyone–city residents can easily get rid of their unwanted things, while someone else gets a free item they can use. It’s especially handy for urban environments, where bulky items left on the street are an eyesore at best, and a hazard to pedestrians and cyclists at worst. People living in more rural areas can also use iKringloop to give away or find things.
Municipalities also love the idea of iKringloop, because it saves money in garbage transport and disposal (even incinerating the trash is expensive). The app also provides a line of communication between the municipalities and residents. For example, iKringloop is partnering with the City of Amsterdam to provide additional services to users, such as reminders for bulky trash collection days.
The app is free for users to download–the revenue will come from licensing the app to municipalities, commercial clients, and garbage collection companies, as well as premium notification services for users.
Giving Back With Open Data
When talking about open data, the discussion is usually about obtaining datasets from the various government entities, or the challenges of getting the data in a usable format. However, the other important part of open data loop is providing the data to the ecosystem in the first place, and iKringloop is doing just that.
“iKringloop plays a role in open data by encouraging people to provide useful specifics regarding where, when and how much bulky trash they dispose of,” said iKringloop co-founder Thomas Adelaar . “It’s exciting, because the new open data created from the app translates to savings, effectiveness, and efficiency for smart cities.”
Marketing Through Community
As part of the Open for Business program, Matteo Manferdini from PureCreek gave a marketing workshop with targeted advice for each group. Manferdini emphasized that for any new startup, it’s important to make clear what problem you are solving. Or even better, what is the pain your customers are experiencing, and how will your product take away that pain? For iKringloop, the pain is pretty clear–people need a convenient way to get rid of their stuff, and municipalities need to save money on handling and processing their city’s bulky trash. So the main challenges for iKringloop are 1) making people aware of the solution, and 2) getting a critical mass of items in the system.
“Because we’re a socially-minded and lifestyle app, we figured it was natural to focus on social media and viral word-of-mouth to get the message out about iKringloop,” said co-founder Thomas van Armaan. “We’re building a great following, and it’s growing every day.”
They’ve also launched a moving billboard campaign on Amsterdam sanitation trucks, and the bourgeoning iKringloop community is noticing. A fan spotted this one on Damrak in Amsterdam and snapped this photo:.
Because their app provides a clear societal benefit, and involves open data, co-founders Adelaar and van Armaand have access to various related public forums and contests, which gives them even more exposure. They were shortlisted to present at the season finale of Circulaire Stad: Joint Venture, and they were the winners of the first Apps for Europe Business Lounge contest at the recent Hack de Overheid open data hackathon in Amsterdam.
As they get more users in the app, iKringloop plans to continue to build their exchange and communication platform based on feedback from their users. The team is also already talking to other cities about providing the app across the Netherlands and throughout Europe.
Giving your old stuff a second life has never looked so good!
Earlier this year, Appsterdam launched “Apps for Amsterdam: Open For Business“, an initiative with the Waag Society and the Amsterdam Economic Board to help three local startups build their businesses using open data. Many thanks to Softlayer, Big Nerd Ranch, Solid Ventures,Li Chiao Design, Likefriends, and Glimworm for lending their support and expertise to the Apps For Amsterdam: Open For Business program.
Check out the other Open for Business startups.