I frequently get emails from people looking to use the JumpPost product that we launched a year ago to help find a new apartment. This post explains what happened to JumpPost and why we aren’t running it anymore. In case you weren’t familiar with JP, the model was that we would pay vacating tenants $500 to list their apartment with us, if we found someone to sign a new lease on the apartment. Apartment hunters could search in advance, not compete with the craigslist crowd, and not pay a full broker’s fee, and vacating tenants could make $500 for doing very little work.
When Jordan and I were starting a company we wanted to build a large “local” product. At that time our ideas weren’t fully formed yet, but the vague way to describe it would be a Craigslist 2.0. We had studied marketplaces and attempts at better craigslist-type products, and we knew that you needed a unique model to create liquidity within one channel before you could just launch a craigslist with a better UI. So we looked at real estate as the most valuable vertical within craigslist, and came up with the JumpPost model as our “in”. We also knew that we would need a significant amount of capital to go after a huge marketplace, and to attract the capital we’d have to prove our team, product, and revenue generation abilities before we could raise financing.
JumpPost was quite successful for an early stage company in that it was generating revenue right away. And the whole time we were working on it, we were constantly trying to figure out how to expand it beyond just the unique real estate value prop that we were offering. Unfortunately its blessing was its curse in that the model was so specific, that if you added any more categories or even other types of real estate, people would be really confused about what to do when they landed on your site. They wouldn’t know why they could earn $500 for listing and showing an apartment, but nothing for listing and selling an old ipod or furniture.
So if we just continued on with JumpPost under the $500 incentive model, it would have likely been very successful if you measure success as owning a real estate brokerage which generates $1000+ profit on almost every apartment that you transact through the site. You have to also be excited about being “on the ground”, handholding every deal from start to finish, dealing with multiple parties on every deal, and losing out on a lot of deals you put work into. This can scale into an NYC only multi-million dollar business if you work long and hard at it.
But as Justin Timberlake let us all know: A million dollars isn’t cool…You know what’s cool….?
We’re internet entrepreneurs, developers, hackers, product designers. We want to change the world. We’re not real-estate agents. After we proved that we could execute on a local marketplace, build product, etc, we were able to pitch the big vision which was now much more fully formed. Outside investment was raised, and the seeds for Hyperpublic, a local data platform, were planted. The decision wasn’t made overnight to just shut JumpPost down. We certainly debated about modifying it, letting someone else run it, rolling the new product under the JumpPost brand, but in the end with the help of our advisors and network, we decided it best to focus on the enormous long-term opportunity.
At JumpPost we were focussed on making money in the first month, and at Hyperpublic we won’t be focused on it within the first year. But if we succeed, we’ll change the world, and that’s what gets us really fired up to work the long hard hours that it takes to run a startup.