Buying and selling on marketplace websites like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace often lead to meeting a stranger somewhere to complete the purchase and pick up the item.
With over 1 billion Facebook Marketplace users per month, Nymbull founder Jackson Wegelin doesn’t think that’s necessary for peer-to-peer transactions. And he estimates that between interacting with potential buyers and dealing with no-shows, each sale takes about a week to complete.
His company, which participated in Startup Alley at TechCrunch Disrupt, aims to eliminate a lot of that hassle and get completed sales down to an average of two to three days through the creation of a patented remote lock and sales website that enables users to list their item on the Nymbull website and share that link on the marketplace of their choice. He refers to it as “lock it, list it, leave it.”
Sellers purchase the lock — similar to a bicycle lock — to lock up items for sale at their location of choice for potential buyers to inspect the item. If the buyer is satisfied, they complete the payment through the Nymbull website to get the unlock code. The company uses Stripe and offers charge-back protection to both parties.
“There has been lots of evolution in marketplaces,” Wegelin said. “We have pizza companies using lockers as do people for dropping keys for Airbnbs, as well as Amazon pick-up lockers. This became more normal as COVID hit and people started social distancing and wanting non-contact transactions.”
The idea for the company came to Wegelin in 2016 when he had a grill that he wanted to sell. He lives on a busy main street in his neighborhood and thought about listing the item and locking it to a tree in the front of his house so people could look at it. While searching for remote locks that would enable him to unlock it after someone bought the grill, he came up short.
An inventor by nature — he holds 70 U.S. patents as an electrical and mechanical engineer — and set out to build one of his own. A year later, he started filing patents for the Nymbull lock and now has four issued patents.
Wegelin, based in Ohio, now has 500 locks and is experimenting with sales on Nymbull’s website, which he expects to launch soon. He is still working on pricing for the locks and item posting. However, he said it will be a subscription model for sellers, while buyers will pay a few dollars for each transaction.
Sellers will be able to put a free hold on items for a certain number of hours and have flexibility to offer more holding time for the buyer to decide on the purchase. For those needing longer, potential buyers can ask for a day or two hold by paying a few dollars.
As he was testing out the locking system, one of the most common questions he received was how to lock up an item of clothing, like a shirt. He tested out methods of looping the lock through the sleeves and a hanger that he hung on an over-the-door hook. Other sellers have gotten creative with drilling holes in plastic containers that can be locked to a fence, Wegelin said.
Ultimately, he wants Nymbull to be the mediator between buyer and seller so that items can be safely purchased and sold without either party having to interact at all if it is not needed, Wegelin said.
“The lock keeps people honest and helps buyers see what they are paying for it,” he added. “There are lots of opportunities where we can take this, such as food pick-up, medication delivery or unattended pick-ups.”