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Teenage brother and sister duo take on eBay with hybrid social media and online marketplace startup

Wednesday, 9 July 2014 | By Broede Carmody

An Australian startup launched by two teenagers is looking to make selling and buying easier and more entertaining by combining social media with the concept of a traditional online marketplace.


Sailr, developed by brother and sister duo Naomi Feiglin, 19, and Nathan Feiglin, 16, plans to be a more social and mobile-friendly version of eBay.


Naomi is studying commerce at the University of Sydney while Nathan, who started blogging about technology at the age of 12 and taught himself how to code, is in year 11.


Naomi says the idea for Sailr came when both she and Nathan were finding it difficult to sell items online using social media and more established online stores. They have not received any external funding for the project.


“It really started off when both Nathan and I were trying to sell stuff online,” she says. “Nathan was using eBay and I was trying to sell stuff to my friends.”


Naomi quickly learnt that Facebook wasn’t going to be practical to sell handmade jewellery because it does not allow users to accept payments from friends. Meanwhile, Nathan felt eBay was too complicated and wasn’t as mobile-friendly as it could be. It was then that Naomi saw Instagram being used to promote items for sale.


“When I saw that I was like, there is something here,” she says.


At the moment Sailr is a website, however, the pair are planning an app for the near future. Nathan says he hopes Sailr will be popular but not limited to a young audience.


“I think we will find it will be very popular especially on the consumer side with the younger generation,” he says. “However, for selling and the supply side we see that being a little more open. While there will be some young people selling things, I think we will also find a whole breed of small businesses who might have found it really challenging to get an online store up.”


Users of the website are able to follow sellers and see their products in a stream, similar to a Facebook or Instagram feed. People can then like, comment on and purchase the items – with the money going straight to the seller’s PayPal account.


Nathan says the focus for the startup from day one has been to make the process as easy as possible for people to buy and sell items online.


“We’ve been really careful not to become like our competitors who have lots of drop-down menus which I think are really damaging to the user experience,” he says. “eBay from a mobile perspective isn’t too friendly to the user which is why we made sure our website would be responsive, so at least we could cater to mobile from day one. When it comes to the app we’ll be careful to make sure it is an experience that is better than our competitors.”


Nathan says the focus is now on making sure they are prepared for user uptake.


“We’ll be as quick to adapt as possible to what our strategy needs to be in terms of growing and scaling.”