Its been a busy month and we’ve made some improvements to the site that we are excited to share with you.
There’s been many changes related to groups. Most notably, groups are now free! That’s right all groups, all the time, free of charge. We also fixed some issues with the group search tool and how lists are sorted in groups and removed some unnecessary things from the group management tool bar. Go ahead, create a group and invite your friends!
TOOLS TO HELP YOUR GROUP GROW
If you’d like to help spread the word about NeighborGoods in your community, you can click the ‘Grow your community’ image in the sidebar or click here to access our sharing tool kit with printable flyers and tips on creating a successful sharing group. We also created a GetSatifaction thread where you can introduce yourself to other group owners and swap ideas about what’s working your community. Go say hi!
UPGRADE TO PRO
Next, all verified members have been changed to over to pro members, and we will no longer sending out verification kits. Pro members receive all the same benefits including access to more items on the network. Upgrading to pro is one of the best ways to help support the community and keep NeighborGoods strong.
CHIP IN TO SUPPORT NEIGHBORGOODS
And finally, if you’d like to help support NeighborGoods you can also click the ‘Donate’ button on any page or click here.
We’d like to thank every one of our users, followers and friends for helping us to create such an amazing community of people who shared our vision of building stronger local communities. Our path has not been without bumps, but we cannot express our appreciation for your continued support and how happy we are that NeighborGoods is living on, across the country and across the world.
Thank you and happy sharing!
3 comments | posted by jessicasomething
A few months ago we shared the news with you that we would be closing down NeighborGoods in order to shift our attention to our new project, Favortree. Now I’m writing to share yet another shift in plans. If you want to skip the details, the short story is that we have been unsuccessful in launching the new project. Meanwhile, many new members have continued to join NeighborGoods and have used the service to share with their neighbors. We’ve decided not to close the site. We will continue to maintain NeighborGoods.net for your use.
For a bit of history, NeighborGoods launched publicly for the first time in 2009. The company very quickly attracted press from hundreds of outlets including Techcrunch, Fast Company, NPR, Oprah Magazine, and NBC Nightly News. NeighborGoods was at the forefront of an emerging industry that is now the hottest trend in Silicon Valley, Collaborative Consumption. We were even mentioned in the book that coined the term. It was clear that our vision of connecting neighbors to share physical goods was resonating with people. As we iterated the product and grew the community, the accolades continued. We were honored as one of the 100 Most Brilliant Startups of 2011 by Entrepreneur Magazine and we won the award for Best Bootstrapped Startup at the Startup Competition at SXSW that same year.
But we were still having trouble raising money. We raised enough cash from angels to keep our small team working but we never reached the point where the company was interesting to VCs. Eventually, the money ran out and the team moved on to other things. Then I heard from the Knight Foundation. They were interested in the potential for NeighborGoods to build stronger local communities by connecting neighbors to share with each other. They suggested that I apply for funding through their Tech for Engagement program. What passionate entrepreneur wouldn’t jump at a second chance to make their company work?!
I saw this as an opportunity to explore what was working and what wasn’t working with NeighborGoods. This was my chance to refocus and rebuild my vision. I reached out to my friend Daniel Hengeveld who I had known both personally and professionally for the past 8 years. We started brainstorming what the next generation NeighborGoods might look like. The funding came through and we set on a course to building a startup that investors could get behind.
We made a list of things we’d learned and tried to boil down our offering to its most basic values. First and foremost, friends and neighbors help each other because it feels good, not to make money. Financial transactions work best between strangers and when the value is clear (and high). But when you’re doing something to be helpful, mixing financial requirements into the transaction muddies the experience and makes it less fulfilling for both parties. When is the last time you accepted cash for letting your friend borrow a video game, or offered money to a colleague for giving you career advice? It’s just not how the world works. We were confident in the knowledge that friends and community members like to help each other. They want to lend their stuff and be helpful. Getting people to share was not the problem. What we needed was to find a way to encourage more borrowing.
People don’t like asking for help without having some way to reciprocate. Asking to borrow something is actually much harder than offering to others. We started exploring social currency and complementary currency systems. We hypothesised that if we created a fun and engaging social currency, we could smooth the social friction of borrowing from others while rewarding folks for sharing at the same time. We were very excited about this new direction and we began pitching it to our advisors and close investors. We kept getting the same advice. “NeighborGoods is old news. You can’t raise money by adding social currency to your old idea. You need to start fresh.”
What we should have realized at that point was that we already had money. We were so worried about Knight Foundation’s small investment running out that we set our eyes on one goal: to raise more money. Our goal should have been to increase activity on NeighborGoods. Our goal should have been to better serve our community by improving the product and making it more useful by working to build critical mass. We already knew our idea was hot. We already knew people were passionate about NeighborGoods. We had thousands of users and the support of the Knight Foundation - who had reached out to us to give us money.
Instead, we decided to throw out all that value and start fresh because we thought it would be more appealing to investors. We thought we could take what we learned on NeighborGoods and build a whole new product and a whole new community and make it appealing to investors with $250k. After a couple false starts with the product, the money was draining quickly, much more quickly than the first time around. And with that effort, we have learned the same lesson as countless entrepreneurs before us. Our job is not to please investors. Our job is to delight our users. Period.
We were already half way there with NeighborGoods. But we got caught up in the desire to build the next hot startup and the next new thing rather than building on the value we already had. We certainly made things difficult for ourselves.
And now we find ourselves back where we started six months ago. We’re a passionate team with a very small bank account and a growing community of users who believe in the benefits of sharing with their neighbors. In all, that’s not a bad place to be. It’s an honor to have the support of many thousands of people who believe in NeighborGoods enough to register and be a part of this community.
Our goal now is not to raise more money. Our goal is to keep NeighborGoods up and running for our community. We’re going to be making some improvements to NeighborGoods in the coming weeks, mostly by removing unnecessary features. We’ll also be adding a donate button so our community members can help us cover the costs of hosting and upgrades moving forward. If you would like to help out in other ways, feel free to contact me directly at email@example.com.
Thanks, as always, for sticking with us on this journey - missteps and all.
- Micki Krimmel, Founder and CEO
20 comments | posted by Neighbor Micki
Our team has very big news that we want to share with you. After three amazing years, 25,000 incredible neighbors and over $4.5 million of inventory being shared, NeighborGoods.net will be shutting its doors. We would like to share what this means for you and your account.
Over the next three weeks we will be preparing for our shutdown which will be happening July 31st. We strongly encourage you to complete any open transactions by this date. After today we will no longer be accepting group subscriptions or account verifications.
Although this is goodbye for NeighborGoods we are excited to announce that members of our team have created a brand new sharing tool, Favortree. Favortree is a 'play it forward' trading game for universities, faith communities and local neighborhoods. Members can help each other by sharing goods and completing small favors. By helping your friends and neighbors, you earn rewards which you can exchange for help when you need it.
We would like to invite NeighborGoods users to pre-register for early access to Favortree. By pre-registering for Favortree, you will be among the first to try it out! You will also be given the opportunity to import your NeighborGoods inventory.
We can’t possibly express our gratitude for all that this community has done for us and for each other. Thank you for your continued support over the last three years and through this transition.
The NeighborGoods Team
3 comments | posted by Neighbor Micki
We've been a little quiet lately, but for good reason; we've been super busy working on exciting new things for NeighborGoods! Now we are looking to bring someone new to our team, so if this sounds like you email us.
Mobile UI/UX Designer
NeighborGoods is looking for a great designer to turn our prototype mobile product into a polished, easy-to-use application. We have the concept and basic functionality, but you'll have the opportunity to deeply refine the UX as we iterate with our early test users.
- User experience design: Analyze and improve screen flows, wireframes etc to take us from existing prototype to polished final experience.
- Visual design: provide comps generate assets, etc. to support the UX design.
Nice to have:
- Front-end implementation - produce mobile HTML/CSS in collaboration with developers
Email Micki directly at firstname.lastname@example.org with a little bit about yourself and some links to projects you've done UX/UI work on.
13 comments | posted by jessicasomething
There's just one more day until thousands of tech, film and music lovers descend upon Austin for SXSW 2012 and this year's event is bigger and better than ever. With so many presentations and panels its easy to miss out on some amazing speakers and we want to make sure that you know where you can find NeighborGoods this year.
Our co-founder Daniel is going to be speaking at a couple events and they are filling up fast! First on the agenda is NEED TO KNOW, a cocktail party hosted by PSFK on Friday March 9th, discussing the five key trends every SXSW attendee needs to be on the lookout for. PSFK has named 'Co-Sharing' one of these, and Daniel will be on stage providing some great insight on this trend and talking about how NeighborGoods has been an innovator in this space. The event is sold-out, but you can keep an eye open to see if any spots open up. You can also check out Daniel's pre-SXSW interview with PSFK and follow the NEED TO KNOW trends on the PSFK website.
Next you can catch NeighorGoods at the Omni Downtown Sunday afternoon at 3:30 pm on the panel 'What Civil Society Can Learn from Social Web.' Daniel will be presenting alongside BenBerkowitz (SeeClickFix), Doug Matthews (City of Austin), Kathryn Fink (Meetup) and Lenny Rachitsky (Localmind). The panel will be discussing the ways in which the social web has transformed civil society and how these tools are creating more infomed and engaged communities. These dynamic speakers are going to bring some great information and you definitely don't want to miss it, so get there early to grab your seat!
If you're heading to Austin this weekend we hope you have a great time and be on the lookout for NeighborGoods, and be sure to say hi to Daniel!
1 comment | posted by jessicasomething
We hope your year has been off to a great start! There have been exciting things happening here at NeighborGoods and 2012 is already keeping us very busy. We are thrilled to share with you that NeighborGoods was featured Sunday evening on the NBC Nightly News! Its a great little segment featuring an interview with Micki and a couple of our amazing LA neighbors Cris and Jory.
As Collaborative Consumption gets more attention from major media outlets like NBC its means great things for NeighborGoods, and other sites who were also mentioned in the segment like Spinlister and TaskRabbit. It also is a great thing for you, the users, because it means there are going to be more people to share with and when you invite your real life neighbors to join your NeighborGoods group, they'll already know what you're talking about!
2 comments | posted by jessicasomething
The new issue of GOOD Magazine is titled The Next Big Thing. In this issue, the GOOD 100 list highlights 100 innovations and cultural moments that signal the emerging future. So what is the next big thing? Sharing, of course! NeighborGoods is on the GOOD 100 list - "NeighborGoods is the new Home Depot: your neighbor has a power sander. Now there's an easier way to borrow it."
To mark the launch of the new issue of the magazine, GOOD has also announced the GOOD 100 Challenge: Sharing in the new Owning. They are offering $1000 to the best idea that helps people share resources. We wanted to take this opportunity to help out one of our sharing groups who is in need of some support.
We have been working closely with the Mount Rainier Community Tool Shed in Mount Rainier, MD, to help residents better connect with the tool shed and the resources it has to offer. By using NeighborGoods to power sharing, residents can browse the tool shed's inventory and make reservations online, as well as track how much money they've saved by borrowing tools instead of buying them new. The tool shed has a collection of hand and power tools that residents, businesses and community groups can borrow for free and NeighborGoods wants to add to its library!
The tool shed was initially funded by a grant through the Prince George's County Livable Communities Initiative, which allowed them to purchase many of the tools that are available today. It is now run by a small group of volunteers and operates on a shoestring budget. The tool shed provides a wonderful service to the community in Mount Rainier. Like NeighborGoods, the tool shed aims to help their neighbors live more sustainably, save money, and strengthen their community, and together we have created a short list of items they need to help accomplish these three things.
1. Electric lawn mower
Currently the tool shed owns only one working lawn mower, but this is a highly requested item and they really need another. Rather than paying to fix the two broken gas mowers they already own, we would like to purchase one new electric mower that will cost less over time on repairs and reduce emissions, as compared to the old gas guzzlers.
2. Drain snake
Most people do not own a drain snake, so even a simple blockage requires calling out a professional. By purchasing a drain snake we plan to save residents a substantial amount of money by helping them to avoid the high cost of unnecessary plumbing bills.
3. Gardening and work gloves
Finally, we would like purchase 30 pairs of gardening and work gloves. The tool shed organizes and participates in numerous cleanups, gardening projects and workshops throughout the year. They already provide most of the tools needed for these projects, but have a serious shortage of good quality gloves to make sure their neighbors are protected while they are working to make their community better and more beautiful.
We need your help! In order to make this all happen we have to get the most votes in the GOOD 100 Challenge. Head over to our project page and support NeighborGoods and the Mount Rainier Community Tool Shed by voting for our idea. Voting takes just a few clicks only lasts until December 15th so don't wait, go vote now! Thanks neighbors!
13 comments | posted by jessicasomething
We know that many of you live in Southern California and we hope that you all made it through the last couple days safely. For those of you that live out of the area, or haven't caught wind (no pun intended) of what's been happening, LA County was hit hard by heavy winds Wednesday night and has declared a state of emergency. Almost 40,000 homes and businesses have been left without power and severe damage has been done to private residences and city infrastructure.
Although Southern California is not experiencing devastation as severe as that caused by Hurricane Katrina or the Joplin Tornado, it certainly has many people thinking about how they can be better prepared for an emergency. The first thing that comes to mind when trying to get prepared for an emergency is to head out to the store to buy supplies and stock pile food and water. While these things are important, many people don't realize that your most valuable asset after a disaster is next door, across the street and even down the block...your neighbors.
Often times when we talk about NeighborsGoods we touch on the financial and environmental benefits, but we also try to show the importance of building relationships and stronger bonds within neighborhoods and organizations. If you follow along with NeighborGoods news or Micki's presentations you may be familiar with the term social capital. Similar to financial capital, social capital refers to the social networks and resources that we have available to draw from.
The Journal of Homeland Security released a report last year highlighting the important role that social capital plays during the recovery process stating:
"Recovery from natural and other disasters does not depend on the overall amount of aid received or on the amount of damage done by the disaster; instead, social capital—the bonds that tie citizens together functions as the main engine of long-term recovery."
Unlike the ability to drive to Target and pick up water and flashlights, building trust and relationships in your community takes time, so don't put it off! Whether its through getting your neighborhood using NeighborGoods, getting involved in your neighborhood council or just making an effort to walk next door and say hi more often, a little bit of effort can help make you and your family a lot safer and better prepared for the future.
2 comments | posted by jessicasomething
Today we want to share with you, something a little different. We would like to shed some light on something very near and dear to our hearts. This thing is very special around the neighborhood. In some ways it has helped to make NeighborGoods possible and it is something that a great many neighbors have in common. We know you've used it at least once, and everytime you got pretty high.
Today, we would like the honor the ladder.
The ladder is the most added item on NeighborGoods. There are almost eight times more ladders than lawn mowers, and two times more ladders than power drills. In fact, there are 787 ladders, but we'll round down to 780 to account for the test transaction ladder and a couple non-ladder items that snuck into the search, just to keep us honest.
The average number of rungs on a ladder is 7, and the average distance between rungs is 11 inches, making the average height just over 6 feet. If you were to take the 780 ladders on NeighborGoods and lay them out they would be almost one mile long!
The average cost to purchase a ladder is about $100. Using this figure means that ladders make up about $78,000 worth of inventory on NeighborGoods. And if the test ladder was a real item it would had been borrowed 574 times and would have saved neighbors $57,400 dollars!
Happy Tuesday neighbors!
14 comments | posted by jessicasomething
This year the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the world's leading conservation organization, turns 50! WWF is celebrating their 50th anniversary by looking to the future of wildlife and the planet, and shining some light on the lasting, positive impacts of businesses that are innovating towards long term sustainability.
WWF has just released their report 'Green game-changers', which includes a selection of companies and entrepreneurs from around the globe who are addressing the environmental challenges of our time and can provide valuable lessons to businesses everywhere . The report has separated the businesses into four main areas : dematerialization, restorative, open loop and renewable energy/low carbon.
Dematerialization is all about products, services and processes that cut down the use of natural resources and produce less waste in economies around the world. NeighborGoods is incredibly excited and honored to have been included in the dematerialization portion of the WWF report as a leading peer-to-peer lending site! Also mentioned alongside us was Ecomodo, Freecycle and Zilok. Among the other dematerialization companies profiled is In.gredients, a zero-packaging and waste store in Austin, TX, and Ecovative, a design company that uses agricultural waste and fungi to make building insulation.
You can read more about NeighborGoods (page 16) and all 50 game-changing innovations by checking out the full report on the WWF website!
0 comments | posted by jessicasomething
Welcome to the NeighborGoods news blog. Check in for news about our community and help make the site better by joining the conversation!