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Classy app trumps Craigslist for Boston college students

August 20, 2014

classyStart-up company Blade has released Classy, a mobile application that allows Boston college students to buy and sell products locally without fees  using a seamless, accessible platform on their smartphones.

Students can buy or sell textbooks, furniture, electronics and more using the Classy app, which lacks shipping capabilities, prompting buyers and sellers to meet in person on campus to deliver merchandise. Eliminating shipping is an attempt to create a more direct process for buyers and sellers.

“Classy requires EDU email confirmation and a Facebook login,” said Paul English, CEO and founder of Blade, Boston. “This makes us classy and not creepy like Craigslist.

“A Harvard student knows she is buying from another Harvard student rather than from someone in a back alley.”

Local business
Currently available for free on iOS devices and coming soon on Android, Classy maintains a profile database that allows users to rate business corresponds to develop reputable sources and separate them from spammers.

“I think Craigslist knows the value of their no-frills service; one of their biggest selling points is that you don’t need an account to sell or buy something,” Mr. Vlismas said. “That’s what really makes Craigslist so different from Classy.

“If I want quick and easy, no frills, no bells or whistles, I’m going to use Craigslist, but if I’m a student and worry about security or location, Classy solves for that.”

Mr. Vlismas is not affiliated with Classy but agreed to comment as an industry expert.

Users download the app and upload photos of their item to sell, along with condition details of the item and price information. When buyers are interested, they will click “Request item.”

Classy app

“From a marketing perspective, the problem I believe they’re trying to sell is the security of buying and selling online,” said Tony Vlismas, head of market strategy at Polar, Toronto. “They can do it anywhere; I think what makes Classy unique is the user-ranking system, the curated membership, and the convenience of knowing your seller is nearby.

“It’s a bit of a cross between eBay, which has user ranking, Craigslist, which has local branches, and Angie’s list, which has curation.”

The app eliminates shipment tracking, time consuming visits to a postal carrier’s office and extensive Web site listings.

Founded by a former college student in the Boston area, the need for a simplistic solution to on-campus buying and selling has been crucial. While buying books on eBay or Amazon can be frustrating, students are always in need of or in surplus of various college dormitory needs, whether it is furniture or appliances such as a microwave or coffee maker.

Spreading the word
The company is promoting its app with a Vimeo video, featuring a college student selling multiple products, meeting up with a person on campus to exchange and how Classy attempts to create a safe and secure exchange process with its profile database.

The Vimeo video is filmed on campus and includes humor, such as the use of an annoying roommate.

Classy – Student marketplace

Classy has a sign up list on its Web site to be notified when Classy is available on certain campuses.

“Initially the base is pretty limited, since it’s only for students,” Mr. Vlismas said. “They’ll need to do a ton of gorilla marketing to really bring enough users on board.

“Otherwise, if a student can’t sell something quickly, or if a student can’t find what they need at that exact moment, they’ll switch somewhere else.”

The mobilization of personal sales has become a new trend for smartphone users. Craigslist may serve its purpose on desktop, but students are often met with limited time. Apps offering similar services are attracting students who are constantly on the go and have access at their fingertips.

“We hear a few horror stories of Craigslist buyers and sellers being shady, maybe even dangerous, but I’m not sure the problem is wide-spread enough to deter students,” Mr. Vlismas said. “I think the other challenge Classy will have to overcome is the user base; if they grow to be extremely popular, what happens when the student leaves school?

“They can’t keep using Classy so they have to immediately start using another service. If Classy opens up to non-students then it loses one of the vital value props they’re using to make themselves unique.”

Final Take
Caitlyn Bohannon, editorial assistant for Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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