Eborhood Founder Rajan Babaria in The Hotseat

As consumers, we are constantly shopping and that activity is increasing done online. Those of us longing for the days of the yard sale, wanting to barter or find used goods for low prices, are relegated to eBay or Craigslist, but the two are far apart in terms of security and seller-buyer interaction. That’s where Eborhood comes in, seeking to build something in the valley of these two giants. The Texas-based company is making a push for local online trade and has implemented features like identity verification and map-based browsing. Founder Rajan Babaria was kind enough to take the time to answer a few questions for our Hotseat segment.

Where did you get the idea to start Eborhood?

When I was in college, I discovered I had issues with finding things around me, whether it was a service, place, person, or item. Every time I had a problem or relevant idea, I’d write it down on a piece of paper and staple it to my wall. My wall was covered and I took a long look at them, only to discover that they all had one thing in common – I wanted to find something in proximity to my location. Whether it was a book I needed for a class or an apartment to rent, it all had to be close to me.  After some time to incubate the idea, I recruited a great team and built a network where people can list anything from jobs to housing to items to services and actually act on them.

What distinguishes Eborhood from eBay, Craigslist, and other shopping sites?

On Craigslist, a user experiences a quick way to deal with strangers and sometimes transactions goes awry; people can be scammed or otherwise hurt. We beat Craig through a system to verify a user’s ID on three different levels, preventing fraudulent activity on Eborhood.

Another competitor, Ebay taxes its users on three different occasions. Sellers are required to pay a posting fee, a final value fee upon sale, and a Paypal fee upon payment. Sellers usually are forced to pass on the fees to consumers or may even refrain from selling a product because their profit margins are destroyed.

At Eborhood, we’ve eliminated fees and created a tipping system where users can tip Eborhood however much they want—20 percent, 10 percent, or even just ten cents. We created Eborhood to focus on what’s best for our users. If we please our users, we will, without a doubt, be in a position to take on competitors. Rather than trying to make a fortune, we’re in it to build something that people love to use, and that’s the biggest defining factor between “us” and “them.” Eborhood differs from other similar sites because we’ve minimized transaction fees while maximizing safety and interaction between parties.

What is the meaning behind the company’s name?

Eborhood is a hybrid between the words “electronic” and “neighborhood.” We tried to come up with a name that is catchy and relevant to our mission. Our purpose is to design features that help people, places and things connect online and take that relationship offline. We could have named our project something specific to ecommerce or trading, but we want Eborhood to be more than just a place to shop.  We want to help build relationships and derive value from them. We want people to find what they need locally in a quick and safe manner.

Would you tell us more about the Eborhood team?

Kali Donovan is a globe trotting, adventurous back-end developer proficient in many languages, including Ruby, Java, C and Objective-C. Shyam Kuntawala, who was born and raised in London, is an entrepreneur that sold his logistics company to be a part of Eborhood's business development efforts. Kyle Kothe grew up in scorching rural Texas, allowing him to stay indoors and design his heart away. He is a UI guru at Austin’s Whaleshark Media during the day and Eborhoodie by night. And I am an original electronics manufacturer and entrepreneur. Simply put, we love to build stuff.  Our team united because we love designing and creating things that solve problems.

Where is Eborhood based and how would you describe the start-up climate there?

Our team is based in three different cities: Austin, Dallas, and San Francisco. I realized that tech talent is sparse in Texas. We learned that most of the tech gurus and venture capitalists naturally flock to larger metropolitan hubs such as NYC, LA, San Francisco, and Chicago. The most important thing to a start up is acquiring and reataining talent, which is contingent upon funding – if you don’t have cash, you don’t have anything to offer to your talented developers.  So, naturally, we’re seeking to establish more of a presence in Silicon Valley and in Los Angeles. Los Angeles, in particular, has become a bigger player in the start-up scene partly because Hollywood’s financiers and stars have been making big bets on some cool tech companies.

Any advice for other entrepreneurs?

Many people think they can build a start up.  They think they can come up with an idea, build it, tell Mashable or TechCrunch, become instant millionaires. It’s never like that and people with that mentality need a reality-check. Being an avid-entrepreneur, I have been desensitized to the allure of being the next “celebrity CEO.” It’s not about that. It’s about building something great; something great that solves a problem or helps people. When you’re trying to do something great, you have to understand that it’s rarely a straight shot to success. If it were that easy, everyone would be doing it.

Our startup ride is an upward sloping rollercoaster. We’ve had many ups and downs in our journey, but our trend has always been positive or upward because of our persistence and passion. There have been countless challenging decisions we’ve made while building Eborhood. We’ve hit rock bottom 3 times, maybe more. I know that it is all a part of the process. If you’re not feeling cornered, frustrated or challenged, then you’re probably not building something worthwhile.

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