January 19, 2013
It was a Craigslist experience that wouldn’t soon be forgotten.
Rajan Babaria saw the vivid downside of the popular ecommerce site when he went to pick up a flat-screen TV from a seller.
“As I arrived in a dilapidated parking lot, the ‘seller’ approached me with a knife while demanding money. Luckily, I had a bat in the car and the perpetrator felt my wrath. Most people don’t carry bats, so it’s scary for the average person to deal with strangers via Craigslist,” he says.
Years later, he is now building a site to protect buyers from similar experiences. Eborhood helps you trade goods and services with your neighbors, but more safely: users’ identities are checked using national databases, and the site suggests a public meeting place to make the exchange. Also, money is held in escrow until the item is delivered. You could call it a safer Craigslist, but Babaria prefers another description.
“If you want to compare Eborhood with anything, you can compare it to the hit series Dexter. You can call us ‘the Dexter of ecommerce’ as we strive to minimize crime and (evil) processing fees,” he says. Eborhood is free to use, making money off of “tips” from satisfied customers.
Three of the four cofounders met when developer Kali Donovan was stranded on the highway with his broken-down Mustang. Babaria had visited a Buddhist temple that day, where a monk told him to “witness pain and relieve it. Good things will come.” So he stopped, helped Donovan flag down passers-by, and eventually their future cofounder Kyle Kothe pulled over. They traded a few things – some Frisbees and a new puppy for help fixing the car – and became friends.
“I suppose the monk was right, some ‘good’ did happen when I stopped to help Kali out. Some of the best things in life occur by chance,” says Babaria.
Eborhood was a showcased startup at our Tech Cocktail Los Angeles mixer in December.
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