What Happened To JumpPost?



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.


Who I want to work with

Things over at JumpPost have been moving very quickly, and we’re excited to be making our first full time hire. We’re looking for a lead product designer, and the full job post can be found over at TheResumator.

We’re a product focused company, and as such our product designer will play a key role in the success of what we’re building. Since I’ll be working closely with this hire every day, I figured now would be a good time to declare who I want to work with in an ideal world outside the guise of a formal job post.

It goes without saying that our product designer should have a great sense of design. Show me what you’ve designed before, show me that you’ve created great user experiences, and show me that you go the extra mile to really take ownership of the full product experience from beginning to end.

You should not only be able to think in terms of product experience, but you should be able to implement your designs as well. I can do all the back end coding and get you the data that you need, but you should use your HTML, CSS, and javascript skills to make the design a reality. Implementation and execution are everything.

You should be fearless. Designing for the web is one thing, but you should also jump at the opportunity to switch gears and work with UIKit to design for the iPad, work with FBML to distribute our listings into Facebook, and design widgets to be embedded across the web. We’re thinking a lot about distribution at JumpPost, so all environments are fair game. These skills aren’t required in advance, but you should have the guts and confidence to work with us to learn them as required.

One of our greatest strengths as a young company is that we have big ideas and we build quickly. I’m far from a brilliant programmer, but I have confidence in my ability to build whatever it is that we dream up. If you feel the same way about yourself as a product designer, I’d love to talk to you. Check out the job post, and get in touch.


Glad to be part of JumpPost

I’ve made passing reference to a startup called JumpPost on this site, I’ve posted my status as JumpPost co-founder to the internets, and I’ve been shamelessly plugging away at everyone I know to give JumpPost a try for the past few weeks. I figure it’s about high-time to explain what exactly JumpPost is.

Renting an apartment in New York City is hard. JumpPost makes it easier by allowing you to browse, view, and apply for apartments that have never been accessible in the market before – apartments that will be coming up for rent months in advance. 

Not only that, but if you’re planning to move out of an NYC apartment that you’re renting, you can make $500+ through JumpPost simply by listing it on the site. If someone wants to rent it, you earn money.

The NYC apartment hunt has always been an inefficiency that has affected me directly. It’s wrought with expensive fees, lying brokers, craigslist bait-and-switch offers, and the necessity to collateralize your first born child to prove your worthiness to rent. It’s always been a problem I’ve wanted to help solve, and that’s why a couple months ago I jumped at the chance to join Jordan Cooper as co-founder at JumpPost.

If I were from Boston I’d probably describe Jordan as “wicked-smart”, or if I were from Northern California I’d probably describe him as “hella-smart”, but since I’m from New York I’ll just tell it like it is: the man’s got vision, creativity, intellectual prowess, and he’s unwilling to see this thing fail. All qualities I was looking for in a co-founder. I’m super pumped to be working with him on JumpPost, which he had been plugging away at for a few months before I hopped on board.

There’ll likely be much more to come, re: JumpPost, on this site in the coming months, but for now if you’d like to learn more check out the site, or drop me an email at petkanics@gmail.com. As you’d expect, we’ve released early and are iterating quickly, so what you see now might not be what you see tomorrow or next week. If you know people living in NYC apartments you can even invite them to post the apartment on the site through our invite tool, and you’ll earn $100 if their apartment rents. 


Thank You Heroku, or “How To Eliminate Sysadminning”


I need to take a couple minutes here to do something I've been meaning to for along time: Thank Heroku for being so baller.

For those of you not in the know, Heroku is an all-in-one Ruby platform built on top of Amazon web services. If you're a Ruby developer, and you are creating a web application, I highly recommend checking it out.

I've been using Heroku on two applications, including JumpPost, which officially launched today via a nice writeup on the Thrillist NYC site and newsletter. I'd like to share a couple reasons why I love the Heroku platform and would advise any agile startup to consider using it to get their product launched quickly.

Heroku is fast
The same could be said for any well configured EC2 instance, but don't underestimate the words well configured. The smart folks at Heroku have fine tuned every layer of the stack from using the fastest web servers (nginx), caches (Varnish, Memcache), and load balancing strategies.

Heroku is scalable
At the core of Heroku's architecture is a pre-compiled version of your application called a "slug" which is ready to be deployed in seconds to as many instances as you desire. Expecting a big press hit, or noticing your request queue filling up, just type a simple command and add more resources in seconds. Your users won't even know.

Heroku is easy
To deploy you literally type one command at the command line. They provide add-ons for caching, email, DNS, performance monitoring, custom domains, etc…many of them free. 

Heroku provides killer support
Not only does the staff respond to tickets and support requests within minutes, but they go overboard to support the latest and greatest Ruby features. They're very active on the newsgroup, and they even provide sample code for how to best utilize their architecture. 

Heroku is cost-effective
People may argue me on this one, because at face value the cost is actually rather expensive (think 2x the regular price of AWS). But these people aren't taking into account the cost of their own time when it comes to sysadminning, troubleshooting, not the mention the cost of downtime. Heroku never goes down, and it eliminates the need to pay a sysadmin (or the time value of sysadminning yourself).

Heroku is beautiful
Don't believe me? Check out their pricing page (yes they know their demographic are samurai loving programmers). Navigating their site to manage add-ons, monitor performance, and scale up and down resources is a pleasure.

With all of the above, there are a couple downsides that people should be aware of. Proper SSL is expensive, and should your app face custom scaling needs or challenges then you are locked into their stack. Fortunately their stack is designed for large scale use. The Heroku folks are well aware of these concerns, and they're very open about what they're doing to improve the experience for all of their customers. For startups getting their product off the ground, the time savings early on far outweigh the cost of figuring out a custom solution later should your product achieve grand scale. In case you couldn't tell, I'm a big fan.

If you have any questions about the platform, don't hesitate to email me at petkanics@gmail.com.

Why I release early

Many people know that I'm a big fan of the "release early, release often" motto that still echoes from my days going through YC as an early developer with Frogmetrics. When I launched Snapm I tried to live by this mantra as I built and released v1 in a little under a month. That proved to be one of the most valuable decisions I made as it allowed me to get plenty of feedback and early user testing way before anyone normally would have seen the working site. In my latest project, JumpPost, I attempted to push the boundaries of an early release even farther by rolling back the curtain as soon as the product did one simple thing. (The JumpPost background and story to be written about in a future post). Why do I do this?  A couple of reasons.

First of all, as it's been written about many times, there's no better substitute for customer research than real user feedback. I strongly believe that you don't know what your users want, and they don't even know what they want, until they're actively using your product. I've seen countless occasions where users demand one feature or component of a product (IT MUST WORK ON AN AIRPLANE!) only to realize that they have no use for it after it's been built. 

More importantly however, there's no better motivation to constantly improve your product, than to have a less than complete product out in the world. There's a saying among agile developers that, "If you're not embarrassed of your product, then you haven't released early enough." I'd modify that a little bit to say, "If you don't feel the obligation to your customers to be constantly improving your product, then you haven't released early enough." It's not quite as powerful as using the word "embarrassed", but I purposefully don't use that word because the last thing I am is embarrassed about releasing early. In fact I would say that I'm the opposite of embarrassed. I'm proud to have released early. I can't wait to push new changes and updates to the site multiple times per day. I can't wait to watch our users marvel at how they request a feature and it's implemented and released within days or hours. That's the stuff that makes you want to work.

It's easy to delay launching. There's always another "must have" feature to be built before you feel that you're ready. But it's hard to put yourself out there. I strongly recommend giving it a shot on your next project.

If you live in NYC and happen to be moving out of your apartment in the next 6 months, check out JumpPost.com and list your apartment. You'll make $500 if it rents, and you'll hardly have to do any work.