WHAT THEY DO: TradeLive.com is a social network and trading hub that matches IT sellers and buyers. The company's platform, which launched this month, wants to eliminate the hassles that often occur when buying or selling used equipment.
"The secondary IT market is notoriously opaque and inefficient," says Doug Wick, TradeLive general manager. "Finding reliable buyers and sellers requires combing through online posts and waiting on auctions and strangers."
The process can be so time consuming, Wick says, that many businesses "don't even try to sell when they upgrade equipment, which creates a huge environmental cost and a waste of millions of dollars of perfectly serviceable IT gear."
HOW THEY DO IT: TradeLive's social tools allow companies and groups to create a network of trading partners they know and trust.
When a TradeLive user requests a piece of equipment or puts one up for sale, TradeLive connects the user with someone interested in the deal. Once a match is made, TradeLive tracks the deal by creating purchase orders and invoices and keeping a transaction history.
TradeLive users can post up to 20 items per month on the platform for free. For $199 a month, users can post unlimited number of items.
WHO THEY ARE: TradeLive spun out of Austin IT reseller Teksavers a year ago. The company is led by Wick, who has spent the past decade in senior product and business development roles at Austin software companies Powered, Digby and Adjacent Technologies.
Wick was recruited to TradeLive late last year by Austin software industry veteran Dave Sikora, who worked with Wick at Digby and serves on TradeLive's board.
INVESTMENT: The team at Teksavers spent four years building out their trading business before spinning it out as TradeLive. Initial funding for TradeLive came from Teksavers. Now TradeLive, which has five employees, is gearing up to raise its first outside investment.
THE COMPETITIVE EDGE: There are thousands of independent resellers operating worldwide, but the challenge is connecting them with buyers and with each other. Wick says TradeLive's online platform and social media tools can play that role, and it's a multi-million dollar opportunity.
"We want to be the Autotrader of this industry," Wick says. "Right now there's just not an efficient market for making these things live out their useful life. These buyers and sellers want an intermediary, someone who is going to guarantee it's going to work. If you just find somebody to buy from on Craigslist, that's a lot riskier."
BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Getting the word out to both buyers and sellers. "It's like building a social network -- you need to get to critical mass in order to create enough activity in the marketplace," Wick says. "Right now we're focusing on word of mouth. We're not spending a lot on paid stuff yet, but we will."