Tag Archives: jobs

The Next Evolution in Canadian Peer to Peer Communities

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.comFounded 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.comThis 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.caHave 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.comI 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.


Don’t be Afraid to Make a Turkey of Yourself

Photo of me in a turkey costume - 2nd from right

Second Harvest "Turkey Run" at the Toronto Scotiabank Marathon

I’ve been told that one of the secrets to successful networking is to show that you are vulnerable.  If you don’t let people know that you need their help and ask for it, you’ll never get anywhere.  I recently made the brave decision to become a freelancer. So, I’ve spent the past few weeks contacting people that I’ve previously worked with to find out how I can help them with their business and/or find out if they know anyone else who I might want to speak with? My goal is to talk to anyone who will listen and who might want to give me some advice.

So far, I’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of people who have offered to help by either sitting down to talk over coffee or by introducing me to someone else who might be a great contact.  People truly do want to help you if you give them the chance.  As a result, I have met some very interesting and inspiring people and I feel extremely grateful to all of them.

I used to shy away from networking because I was afraid of making a fool of myself but now my mantra is “always be networking”.  What do you have to lose? You just never know who you might meet and everyone has a great story to tell.  You might even make some new friends along the way. I figure, if I can dress up in a turkey costume and run 5K in front of thousands of people, I can definitely call someone up and ask them to go for coffee and chat.  This week, I am staying open to all possibilities!

Taking a Leap of Faith

Me (Andrea Wahbe) at the finish line of my first triathlon

After gathering up the courage to leave a job that was definitely not for me, I have decided that it’s time to take a chance and go out on my own for a while.  The reason for this leap of faith is that I have recently been on countless job interviews and have yet to find a role that I feel is the right next step in my career. So, I figure that taking on a few short-term contracts is the way to go.  I’m hoping that I will have the chance to be exposed to new roles that I would never have had a chance to try out as a full-time employee. Luckily, I live in the fabulous city of Toronto – where new start-ups and entrepreneurial ventures are popping up all over the place. I’ve decided to document the challenges that I am facing as a budding entrepreneur who is trying to start my own freelancing business.

To get my first gig, I have reached out to a lot of people who I have worked with in the past.  I figure that people who know what it’s like to work with me and the quality of work that I put out is the best place to start.  From there, I’m hoping that I will be able to get new clients as I will have built up my experience.

I have been experimenting with a number of social media tools like Twitter and LinkedIn and have discovered a lot of new companies and other entrepreneurs in the Toronto area through these platforms.  I also recently attended a “SproutUp” event in Toronto to hear from other entrepreneurs and get some inspiration about what works in regards to promoting yourself and staying true to what you have to offer to the world.  If you haven’t heard of Sprouter.com, definitely check them out.  They have “SproutUps” every month in Toronto and have an online social media platform to connect with other budding entrepreneurs.  The energy in the room at the “SproutUp” was infectious and I really feel that Toronto is just ripe for growth in the start-up arena.  It’s a very exciting time to be living here!

This week, I’m also teaching myself how to use WordPress.  Hello world!  I’m also interested in learning more about the tools that work with Twitter and how I can track my tweets and followers more efficiently.  I feel like a new University graduate again and am trying to get my first break!  It sounds funny but I feel more alive in my career now than I ever did in previous jobs in the past.  I would equate this feeling to training for my first ever triathlon.  I know that it’s going to be a long road ahead but if I stick to my plan and persevere, I can reach the finish line!

Stay tuned for my next blog post.  I’ll let you know how some of my exploratory meetings with former colleagues go.