This article was published on April 17, 2013

Osom is ‘Instagram with a buy button’, a mobile marketplace for beautiful things

Osom is ‘Instagram with a buy button’, a mobile marketplace for beautiful things
Martin SFP Bryant
Story by

Martin SFP Bryant


Martin SFP Bryant is the founder of UK startup newsletter PreSeed Now and technology and media consultancy Big Revolution. He was previously Martin SFP Bryant is the founder of UK startup newsletter PreSeed Now and technology and media consultancy Big Revolution. He was previously Editor-in-Chief at TNW.

The idea of a ‘mobile-first second-hand market’ isn’t exactly new. We’ve seen many companies try it before, from Yardsale to Stuffle but Osom is a new iPhone app launching today that buts a fresh twist on the idea. Imagine if every photo you saw shared on Instagram had a ‘buy’ button.

With gorgeous presentation and design that offers more than a subtle nod to Instagram, Osom is what its developers are calling “a mobile marketplace for beautiful things.” The app allows you to browse a global feed of items that users are selling, or narrow down to users that you’re following, or sellers from the same country as you. You can browse the most popular items overall via the ‘Most Osom’d’ tab.

What things count as ‘beautiful’? Browsing the items seeded onto the app at launch, vintage dresses, a mint condition manga book, a bright orange bicycle and a pair of designer ski goggles all make the grade. If you see anything you want to buy, you can tap the ‘Buy’ button and then make contact with the seller. There’s no direct payment within the app, making this more similar to Craigslist than eBay.


Selling an item yourself is simple enough. The app takes you through the familiar flow of taking a squared-off photo, choosing one of eight optional filters and adding a description. You can then input a price and decide if you want to share your ad on Facebook. There isn’t currently a way to edit the description after you’ve placed an ad, so if you decide you want to tweak your description, you’ll have to delete the ad and start again. Overall, Osom is a neat package although a few rough edges (such as a ‘follow’ button on your own profile, even if you can’t tap it, and a completely white screen if you happen to come across a blank feed, leaving you wondering if you’re missing something that hasn’t loaded) need straightening out.


Osom is a new Swedish startup founded by Anton Johansson (former CMO of Twingly), Marcus Svensson (also ex-Twingly) and Björn Fant (who most recently worked at Videoplaza).

Bonding over an interest in the social mobile scene, the three founders were drawn to the stickiness of Instagram. “We started to think about commerce ideas that could fit into an Instagram-like interface and suddenly it was pretty clear that it was the perfect interface for a marketplace with its close connection to the camera, the filters to make it more appealing, the following concept so you can see what your friends are selling not only random people and the discovery via feeds,” says Johansson.

Although the app is launching globally today, Osom is initially focusing on becoming the best and largest marketplace for “beautiful things” in UK, Germany and Sweden.

How, I wondered, will Osom ensure that everything posted really is beautiful? Johansson says that the team is seeding the feeds with the kinds of items it hopes that users will sell. “We aren’t removing stuff even if its ugly at this point, but we will remove ads that aren’t ads (for example a picture of a girl holding a beer). Later on, we will curate the content via ‘featured ads’, ‘most osom’d ads’ and ‘recommended ads’ (based on what you and your friends have “Osom’d”).”

Osom is self-funded at present, but Johansson says that the startup is currently in talks about raising an external round. Meanwhile, owners of non Apple mobile devices needn’t worry too much – Android and responsive Web versions are planned for the future.

➤ Osom

Image credit: Medioimages / Photodisc / Thinkstock

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