There are plenty of e-commerce marketplaces that someone could browse wares that are being offered. What makes a relatively new addition to the category, Ubokia, unique is its focus on letting buyers tell sellers what they want or need.
Although it sounds like a reverse auction, the structure is slightly different and not quite as structured. The Ubokia uMatch features encourages visitors to disclose or share what they are looking for within one of the categories that the platform supports: sports, instruments, vacation rentals, automotive, housing electronics, furniture, collectibles, and babies/kids. Sellers can act on that information to update their marketplace offerings accordingly, said Matt Pine, vice president of marketing for Ubokia, which is based in San Francisco.
"E-commerce has evolved to serve the seller's needs," Pine said. "We want to show people who is really looking out for the buyers."
The way that Ubokia has structured its groups is meant to foster trust. Indeed, the company last month announced a concept called uGroups that are, in effect, verified virtual marketplaces that are linked by common interests, and that can be set up as private marketplaces for existing social communities -- including a background check. People who join Ubokia can even bring over their eBay ratings, which allows people to establish their history pretty quickly.
"Community based marketplaces really make sense," Pine said. "If you are looking to borrow a ladder, posting that to a marketplace of your neighbors makes sense. If you are a mom looking for a baby sitter or someone to car pool with, you want to share your request with a group of other moms. This is not something you would do on Craigslist."
Since the site's launch in 2011, there have been more than 1.5 million visits and counting.