Startup Feature: A Chat with the Founder of Bartly in Yerevan

We recently spoke with with Narek Gevorgyan, the co-founder of Bartly, a mobile startup that allows users to barter and exchange possessions they no longer need for items of similar value. Based in Armenia, the app is available on iOS and coming soon to Android.

Below Gevorgyan shares the story of Bartly and how the team plans to expand over the rest of the year. He also offers some advice from his experience for aspiring entrepreneurs.

How does Bartly work?

Bartly is a barter and swapping platform. It allows its users to exchange the stuff they want with the stuff they don’t need.

The whole barter process is very simple. It involves five steps:

  1. Snap a picture of the item you want to exchange and input some basic information including the estimated price which will be used to find perfect matches.

  2. Our search algorithm will find the best matches for your item

  3. Connect with your barter partner to discuss details.

  4. Set up a meeting point and date in the app.

  5. After successful barter, rate your barter partner so that others can know what to expect from each user.

We have also added a social layer to the app, so that people can talk to each other and meet in person to exchange items.

What problem does Bartly address and how do you solve it?

The problem is twofold. On one hand, people accumulate so much stuff they don't need and continue spending money on buying new things constantly. There is an estimated $46.7 billion worth of unused clothes in the UK alone.

On the other hand, people purchase so many thing that they don’t end up using. Over 70 million tons of electronics and textiles is thrown away each year. But about 50% of these things are still usable. We provide a peer-to-peer goods exchange platform so that people can swap things they no longer want with what they need, thus saving time, money and the environment.

What makes your startup unique compared to others in the space?

Goods-swapping platforms are not new in the market. The difference between Bartly and other platforms is that we offer a 2-side barter, with no complications. To make it possible for any 2 people to make a barter deal, even if their items are not equal in terms of value, we have created an extra-charge feature, allowing users to pay extra for the item they want to get. In addition to that, users have the ability to find matching postings for their specific products and, after a successful barter, users can set a meeting point and date within the app to get reminders and navigation. Anyone can start bartering as soon as they sign-up. All these features make the bartering process much faster and simpler.

Where are you based and what markets are you targeting?

We are based in Yerevan, Armenia and are currently focused on our local market to test the product. Our typical customer is any person who has things they want to get rid of or who wants something new. Typically these are people on the edge of a big change: a just married couple, parents with a newborn baby, someone who is moving into a new place, or students and teenagers who change their preferences often.

These people usually have the problem of stuffing their place with unnecessary things and also do not have much money to buy everything. That is why they will use Bartly, to both get rid of of unused possessions and acquire new things with no money. We are planning to expand to Germany by the end of Q4 2015.

What is the next step for Bartly?

During the last month we released the Bartly iOS app on the App Store and have learned a lot from the customer feedbacks. We are currently making changes based on user feedback. The next step is to expand to the German market and also add more services to our offering. We are planning to test a shipping feature we have been thinking about for a long time in Yerevan and see how it increases our number of barters.

How have you built your team?

It’s not really hard to gather a professional development team in Armenia as the industry is growing dramatically. We have known each other from school age. We all have different professions, but we have worked together in the same company for a while and decided to work on Bartly together.

Besides funding, what is Bartly looking for from possible partners?

We are currently looking for advisors with huge e-commerce experience and also for companies who may be interested to expand their e-commerce business by suggesting a feature of bartering to their users. It’s very important for us to use the experience and expertise of the people in this market to push the right traffic into the app.

What is one piece of advice you would give to aspiring entrepreneurs in Armenia?

I’ve noticed that many people think that all you need to become a successful tech company is a good idea and a good development team to create a product based on that idea. But what I’ve learned is that building a startup and creating something that your customers will use is not a sprint, it is a marathon. Having a working product is only crossing the starting line! There is much more than having a product to establishing your startup and gaining traction.