I believe our story is not the first of its kind but our product most certainly is. The idea for Orbit was birthed in two college dorms: Penn State & Northeastern over a phone call. Amaan Udhas, Founder of Orbit was listening to his friend complain about how she has all these things to sell but didn’t want to go through the process of boxing up and shipping items to multiple users on Ebay. Craigslist, seemed out of the question after the Lifetime movie “Craigslist killer.” Amaan made a joke saying: “There are more apps that let people in cities date/hookup with people near them than sell things.”
The joke turned into an idea, the idea into a vision and the vision, into a product. Orbit is a social & local, everything marketplace. Users can buy & sell things with people within an “Orbit” they set.
I wasn’t aware of the few buying & selling apps on the App Store until Orbit was already in development. I’m glad I didn’t know about them, as their UIs look virtually the same: A grid of images that represent listings, randomly. Orbit was built from scratch for smartphones and to be a personalized, social platform for buying & selling. Our design is often described as “A social media and marketplace hybrid.”
What really sets us apart from existing buying and selling apps is our people-centric approach. I’m aware that a lot of businesses try to gain brownie points by saying things ripped from the mouths of People’s Choice Awards winners like “This is for the people.” Orbit was not created as a place to make listings like a local classifieds. It is made up of people and they have been our priority from the beginning. It is important to personalize the experience of these people and give them a product that is safe, fun and above all, a problem solver. You don’t have to take my word for it, take a look at our design.
Imagine how easy it would be to sell something like tickets to a concert or those Nikes that never fit to friends of friends & neighbors. On Orbit, when you make a listing it shows up on the Discover Feed of your Followers. You can even have colleagues or peers look up your Orbit Store by giving them your @username.
As for selling to strangers, we have an in-app Chat so you never have to give our personal information. Also, each users has a profile with a photo and a star rating (out of 5) so you know how reliable they are. It’s funny how cities like Boston are so densely populated but people don’t know each other, unlike the suburbs where everyone knows everyone. Enter Orbit, a platform that showcases items for sale from people in your city.
As for buyers, Orbit’s search is hyperlocal so you can set a distance you prefer. No shipping/returns hassles for buyers or sellers as the item is seen in person before the purchase. Our most unique offering for buyers is Orbit’s Wishlist feature. If you don’t find say, a leather couch for $400, add it to your Wishlist. Orbit sends you a notification the second someone makes a listing in your price range.
As the first real social media platform for selling things, local businesses have begun to embrace Orbit as a new business channel. Small businesses to local artists from Boston have started to set up shop virtually. Signing up as a business gets you unlimited listings, a custom title for when people visit your Store, along with several other features.
I have seen local entrepreneurs really benefit from creating a profile on Orbit. These entrepreneurs & artisans can feature select items instead of their entire inventory as they would on their website. Moreover, they have the opportunity to engage with their local customers on a more personalized level and keep them updated on new products in real time.
Orbit Marketplace has been on the App Store for a little under a month and we have managed to gain quite a bit of traction through mostly word-of-mouth. We are extremely grateful for our early adopters but we still have a long ways to go. In the next few months we aim to expand into more cities. Our vision is to turn these cities into trustworthy communities for buying and selling locally.
Amaan Udhas is the Founder & CEO of Orbit. You can follow Orbit on Twitter @orbitmarketplc. You can download the Orbit Marketplace app in the App Store here.
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