I mentioned in an earlier blog that niche social networks are steadily on the rise in Canada. I am seeing a similar splintering effect happening in the peer-to-peer classifieds space. Canadian start-ups are carving out niche sites that appeal to a very focused set of shoppers and are finding unique ways to monetize these sites – something that Craigslist will not do. Sites like Kijiji and eBay definitely make money off of their sites but they do not offer the niche targeted audience that advertisers are seeking. Another benefit to a niche classifieds site is the ability to build a community around that niche and position oneself as an expert in that audience’s set of interests.
Here are some of the top niche peer-to-peer classified sites/communities that I have discovered to date:
- iStopOver.com – Founded in Toronto, this international travel website helps travellers to save money and find a furnished apartment or house to rent when travelling abroad. Their services came in handy for two recent international sporting events, including the Vancouver 2010 Olympics and the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. iStopOver’s competitive advantage is that they build trust with their users by holding the guest’s money on their behalf until confirmation of a reservation (i.e. the guest shows up and the place is to their satisfaction), and releases it directly to the renter/host once the guest approves to check-in.
- SmartBrideBoutique.com – This Toronto-based start-up is focused on helping brides to save money on their wedding by purchasing gently used wedding products (i.e. wedding dresses, decor, accessories, etc.) from recent brides. It’s a win-win situation where brides-to-be can save up to 50% on their wedding items and recent brides can recoup some of their wedding costs. Check out my previous post about how these ladies inspire me.
- CardSwap.ca – Have you ever been given a gift card to a store where you would never shop? CardSwap helps you to swap gift cards for other ones with other local Canadian users. Or, you can exchange the gift card for money.
- JobDeals.com – I just heard about these guys at last night’s Sprouter event. JobDeals is a local job help resource which allows users to post their needs for local services and allows job seekers to pitch/bid on the work opportunity.
- CommunityLend.com – This website must have been a savior to a number of people in the recent economic meltdown. CommunityLend is a destination where borrowers can lower their loan rates by auctioning off their loans to lenders who bid at the offered interest rate on your loan request until enough bids are made to cover the value of your loan. This service is currently only available in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec.
- 1DegreeBio – A reader just sent me some information on this site. You can’t get any more niche than hosting a marketplace for sourcing antibodies online! They have implemented an independent review process for scientists to rate and review products that are essential to their research. They are building a community to set a new quality standard in the raw materials that are the foundations of scientific research and discovery.
If I have missed any really important sites, definitely let me know.