A new Internet start up is poised to change the way consumers make purchases on the web. The company known as Ubokia already has a number of members and postings on its website. Ubokia, which initially launched during first half of 2011 is based in San Ramon, California, 45 minutes north of San Jose and the Silicon Valley. Brothers Scott and Mark Pine lead the management team. Scott is the founder and Chief Marketing Office and Mark is the CEO. Both have extensive management experience in Silicon Valley.
I was fortunate enough to have an interview recently with Scott Pine. Scott’s vision focuses on the buyer as opposed to the seller as you would normally expect to see on sites such as Ebay or Craigslist. After catching up with Scott, he revealed an incredible business model that is certain to create buzz via the Internet in the ensuring months.
Question: So what exactly is Ubokia?
Answer: As noted on our company website, Ubokia is an online community designed to help you get exactly what YOU want, whether it it’s a bicycle, a job or someone to help you clean up a local park. As a member of Ubokia.com, you can share your wants to a vast community of “Ubokians” as well as people in your social network. The community provides advice and works to help you fulfill your want. In addition to posting wants, you can browse the wants of others, respond to these wants, and share wants with friends and associates through social networks.
Question: What’s the story on the name Ubokia?
Answer: It was the result of a collaborative creative process between everyone in our office. We began by boiling down who we are to a handful of words, then translated those words into many other languages. We were looking for a name that sounded great, contained a potent thread of meaning, and would work well for a website. I won’t go into all the options we explored, but we we eventually settled on the Japanese word for trade, boeki. We then dissected, stretched, and morphed that word many times over. Eventually, we realized that by combining the original word, boeki, with the word utopia, we hit on a name that was great to read, speak, and hear, and described what we do more succinctly than anything else we’d come across. Boeki (trade) + utopia = Ubokia!
Question: Can you tell me a little about you and your brother’s background?
Answer: Sure, here is a quick run down on both of us.
Digimedics Corporation – We actually started this company in our house in 1976. I was graduating from UCSC with a degree in Politics and Mark from UCSD with a degree in Applied Physics and Information. It was a family affair as my dad had the idea of computerizing Drug interactions. Very advanced for those days. We had the unique fortune of starting in the Computer business just as the industry was getting started. I believe we had Intel development system 101. Digimedics grew to be the largest supplier of Hospital Pharmacy Information Systems in the U.S. with over 220 hospital customers.
Parallel Computers – We started a second business in 2002 that built fault tolerant (2 of everything) computers.
Sybase – Mark went to work as Vice President of Engineering for Sybase Inc. (find more online) I worked in Sales at Sybase starting in 1992.
OnDisplay – Mark was co-founder, took it public and then sold it for $1.8 billion to Vignette Corp.
Sigma Partners – Mark was a Venture Partner at Sigma Partners one of the largest and most successful VC funds.
Ubokia – Mark joined as CEO in March.
I caught the Internet shift and joined Eagle River Interactive as Director of Sales in the Western U.S. in 1995. Eagle River was one of the very early Web Development shops developing sites for Apple and Disney.
I then moved to Seattle as Vice President of Free Range Media. Under my direction Free Range Media became one of the top 25 Web Development Agencies.
I took a break after 2000 and built a house in McCall, Idaho. Never losing my passion for innovation, I started working on the Want-Centric paradigm. Today we sit poised to radically improve how we go about locating an acquiring products and services. Ubokia will be a sea change in the way we use the Internet.
Question: How much does it cost to sign up for the service?
Answer: Ubokia is absolutely free. New members can go directly to the join link from our website. Other useful information is listed in our FAQ section.
Question: How did you come up with the idea of Ubokia?
Answer: A couple of years ago I got to thinking how ineffective the Shopping and Buying process is on the Internet. As I started to research this, I realized that Buying was backwards and doesn’t effectively take advantage of the Internet paradigm including the growing importance of Social Networks.
Here is the real problem. You can search Google etc. and you get millions of returns slightly correlated to what you are looking for. Then you have to search each site that might have what you are looking for. Craigslist has its issues but mostly you have to keep coming back to it. Ebay does a good job of optimizing the Seller experience.
What I found is nothing really addresses the individual’s specific requirements e.g. I want a Toyota Camry, 2008 or newer, less than 20,000 miles, color green and within 50 miles of where I am. Secondly it was incumbent on you to locate all the sellers. The final piece is most of us rely on family and friends when we go to buy things. There was not a good way to integrate your immediate network and well as the extended network.
Interestingly enough by changing this to a Buyer-Centric model it creates a better experience for Sellers. Even more compelling is Ubokia offers a free e-commerce platform for small Businesses. Sellers can now identify Buyers looking for exactly what they have to sell. A byproduct of this approach for sellers uncomfortable with
Craigslist, Ebay etc. is you can Browse Wants anonymously and select the buyer you want to deal with.
What we have done is invert the traditional buying process and empower the Buyer to define their own buying experience. You Post what you Want and invite sellers to respond. Additionally you can share your Want with all your networks. The advantage of this is three fold: You can solicit input on what you are thinking of buying as well as reach out to more potential sellers. Finally by integrating your networks you increase the likelihood that you will have an increase in trusted transactions.
The last piece of this effort is we are focused around the idea of a “Want.” In particular we address the Collaborative Consumption model extremely well. This enables a user to define about any need i.e. I want to borrow a car, go in partners on a lawn mower, start a community garden…
Question: Anything else you would like to add, Scott?
Answer: Ubokia relaunched last week with a new look and feel. We are beginning our national roll-out next week with bloggers etc. I believe that we are in the forefront of a paradigm shift. Randy, we are setting out to change buying.
Based upon upon Scott Pine’s comments, his business model really makes sense. I can honestly say that not only will I sign up, I will start looking for items on his website. Scott’s new business is without question a welcome addition to E-commerce and I look forward to its success. Try out Ubokia yourself and let me know what you think.