German startup accelerator Rocket Internet announced in September that it would launch four new startups in Asia every year. That’s despite the fact that Rocket already has 20 companies operating in Asia; it seems aggressive expansion in the region is a priority for the company.
The newest venture to hit the fray is Sparklist, a hyperlocal mobile classifieds platform fashioned on a consumer-to-consumer model. Sparklist helps connect sellers with buyers around them and differentiates itself from the competition by integrating an instant messaging system within the app. Both parties don’t need to take the transaction offline; if there’s willingness to buy a certain product, then price negotiation and pickup timings can be agreed without having to make a phone call.
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Pakistan is the first country where Sparklist has launched, with the service having gone live approximately three weeks ago in Karachi and Lahore. Sparklist co-founder Nalla Karunanithy told Tech in Asia that one of the main reasons they selected Pakistan is because of the rapid smartphone proliferation as well as the propensity for younger consumers to adapt to new technology.
“The beauty of Sparklist is that it allows users to discover new things and sell unwanted goods directly through our app,” says Nalla. “Anyone can download our app […] it’s very hyperlocal but also gives you the opportunity to further discover more items some distance away from you.”
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In a drastic shift from other classified portals, Nalla says Sparklist will focus exclusively on facilitating transactions through its app. Users won’t be allowed to post or browse through listings on the web; if they wish to make a transaction, it’ll have to be through their smartphone. “It’s more secure from the sellers point of view as well. They don’t need to make their phone or email address visible to the public as the in-app chat functionality takes care of that,” he adds.
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Nalla hinted at possible expansion of Sparklist in other countries where Rocket Internet ventures are present but didn’t disclose further details. He added that monetization is not on the agenda at the moment, and won’t be “at least for the next six months” as their primary goal is user acquisition and building traction.
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