Australian tech startup Bonobo has publicly launched Yoink, a free online service to facilitate the worldwide reuse of everyday items.
The new website and iPhone application is like EBay with a big twist: everything must be free, locally picked up and there is no bidding – the first person to “Yoink” an item from someone wins it instantly. People, cities and countries are ranked on a worldwide scoreboard determining who is the most generous at giving items away.
Getting free items is made easier by technology that identifies the nearest available items from your current location. Things already listed include televisions, clothes, mobile phones, satellite dishes and even free range eggs.
Research conducted by Bonobo found that while most people loved the idea of reuse, the time necessary to commit to existing methods was a barrier. Yoink solves this by making the entire process of giving something away as simple as updating a Facebook or Twitter status.
I managed to catch up with Yoink co-founder Ben Hamey to ask him a few questions about the site and their plans. This is what he had to say:
Why start Yoink?
It occurred to us that it was a problem that needed solving. We had all moved house multiple times and been forced to throw away good things. We felt guilty that someone in the next street might desperately need what we were getting rid of but there was no way to matchmake it with them.
How is Yoink different from other methods for giving away stuff for free?
When we started researching this area we found that people really wanted to do this, but it had to be extremely fast and a slick experience to boot. There are lots of offline methods of reuse (ie. physical centres) but they are inherently not very scalable and take too much time. The existing online methods such as FreeCycle (6.9 million members) have large communities of frustrated users because it runs off a giant email list and becoming a member often involves applying to your local moderator for approval.
Yoink was built from scratch to facilitate reuse in the most elegant way possible. We questioned absolutely everything and pared the concept down to basics – what can you give away and where is it? We also realised mobile applications are important to encourage mass behavioural change, you have to be able to see something in your house that you don’t need, take your phone our of your pocket and have that item available in less than 30 seconds.
Conversely, you can be in a foreign suburb and look at your phone to instantly see what items are near you.
Who’s in the team and what are your backgrounds?
Bonobo has a core team of four partners and we all work remotely. Michael Del Borrello in Sydney, Stuart Hall in Perth, Nathan Hamey and myself in Canberra. We run the entire company online.
We’ve got a very diverse range of backgrounds which really strengthens our product development. We’re all young entrepreneurs with common interests and have all worked in the software industry at some point whether in private enterprise, defence or government. Between us we’ve got a wide spectrum of skills in product design, back end development, front end development, business development and marketing. We’re also all just very passionate about making ideas happen, whatever it takes!
What are your plans for Yoink ?
Our only priority is growing the community and making it as useful as possible. We’ve got a big schedule of updates with new features and new mobile client support, watch this space!
I love this site, mostly because I love the fact that reuse extends the lifetime of consumer products to save energy, materials and money. Too many times I’ve gone to throw something away, thought that maybe someone could use it, then thought “nah…too hard”
If Yoink can make it so that, even once in a while, people like me change their mind and go “yeah…I’ll put it up on Yoink” then they’ll have made a massive difference to the amount valuable stuff that gets thrown out on a daily basis.
Go check it out.