Berlin startup Jaspr wants users to trade, not sell

A man and a woman meet to trade items after connecting on Jaspr.

This Berlin startup lets users trade random things and services, like homemade brownies for a private piano concert.

The weirdest thing Jaspr’s CEO Noel Wigdor saw offered on the platform was an erotic massage.

“If you saw his profile picture you would have probably turned it down,” Wigdor says laughing.” It was him sitting in his tighty whities in his flat.” The [Jaspr] community had a good laugh about it before his offering was taken down, he tells The Heureka.

Jaspr is a Berlin-based trade platform that encourages users to swap items and services rather than making a new purchase.

“I was kind of obsessed about the idea since I was a teenager. I wondered how it could be that there are all these websites and platforms for buying things, but that the most obvious thing, trading, was getting left behind – at least digitally.”

This inspired the then 23-year-old Wigdor to develop the technology –which is currently being patented in the US – as the core of his bachelor’s thesis during his studies in Vancouver, Canada.

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The five-manned Jaspr team with CEO Noel Wigdor in the middle.

After seeing a “remarkable response” during a market test of 1,000 people in Berlin, the 32-year-old Wigdor and his fellow co-founders, Tobias Ottenweller and Steve Duncan, decided to open the app to everyone.

He met his fellow co-founders, while working at Babbel in Berlin. They quit their jobs in May 2016 to work on Jaspr full-time. Their team, a total of five, are seated in Kreuzberg.

The name Jaspr, Wigdor shares, derives from the Persian word for treasurer and is also the name of a tiny village in Canada’s Rocky Mountains, that he has a “romantic attachment” to.

When it comes to funding, the startup was awarded the EXIST grant, backing from a few business angels in Canada, where Wigdor hails from, and recently finished a Kickstarter campaign.

“The tricky thing of an app like ours is that you need to reach a critical mass to ensure liquidity,” Wigdor says. Liquidity is when “a minimum number of producers and consumers are on the marketplace and there is a high expectation of transactions taking place,” writes journalist Sangeet Paul Choudary.

“We firmly believe that trade can bring people together in a help-and-be-helped environment, while saving them money and helping them live more sustainably.”

And according to Wigdor, Jaspr users are “trading stuff they would never buy or sell.” Just last week Wigdor fixed a woman’s bike for a house plant. Other trades have included a Wii gaming system in exchange for helping someone move or brownies for a kitchen scale.

“People don’t need much coaxing to to behave the way you would want them to behave on a trading platform.” Many people are trading clothing, but others help non-German speakers by going to the Finanzamt with them, Wigdor explains.

And the Jaspr app “learns what you have and what you want in exchange for those things, then intelligently matches you with great trade partners, taking the hassle out of trade.”

Starting today the app will be made available for download world-wide. “We cannot wait to see what happens when it goes out,” the CEO says.

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