Update, Thursday Aug. 6: Sayist has taken down its website after GeekWire readers pointed out the large volume of content from other sites, including Craigslist. Sayist CEO Bryan Brzeg provided this statement.
Thank you for reaching out. We are aware of the laws surrounding web crawling, scraping, and other online content generation. We make all reasonable efforts to comply with these laws. If we are made aware of any unauthorized use of content, we take immediate steps to remove the content from our website. Because we are committed to doing things right, we have taken down our website to complete a full-scale review to address any compliance issues or unauthorized use of content. Our goal is to create a safer, more transparent user experience for people exploring online classifieds.
Original post follows.
If you’re in the market for used furniture, a new roommate, or a good deal on a bike, your first stop is likely Craigslist. But between the minimalist interface and surge in crime stories linked to the site, two Seattle tech consultants saw room for a new player in online classifieds.
That was the genesis of Sayist, a video classifieds site launching in Seattle today. The marketplace, founded by Bryan Brzeg and Michele Liang, lets users view and post classifieds with video and use hashtags to easily integrate their posts with social media.
“Today’s classified websites are boring and out of date — with little attention to design and innovation,” said Brzeg, who serves as CEO. “At Sayist, we have created a whole new experience for finding a job, buy a car, renting an apartment, looking for a new pet, or selling your old guitar.”
Sayist pledges to create a safer classifieds experience by eliminating personal ads and adult services listings.
We caught up with Brzeg for this Startup Spotlight, a regular GeekWire feature.
Explain what you do so our parents can understand: “If Craigslist and Instagram had a baby, it would be Sayist.”
Inspiration hit us when: “Inspiration hit us when we realized that we could make a difference by removing adult services and personals from classifieds. Human trafficking is the second largest crime in the world. Many crimes happen online, and especially on classifieds where it seems to go unnoticed. Our hope is that by eliminating harmful personal and dating ads, having video posts to add transparency, and encouraging safer places to meet, we’re promoting awareness and developing a better environment for users to connect with their community. We’re not saying that crimes will be completely eliminated, but at least we are doing something about it.”
VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “Sayist is bootstrapped and has been funded through our own day-job salaries. As soon as we got the idea, we went to work. Now that we’ve launched, we are seeking outside investment.”
Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “Our ‘secret sauce’ is in our team’s attention to detail. We had a very talented UI architect join our team early on who had set high development standards. Our website is partially made up of Angular code, making it quick and easy to make dev changes. But ultimately, the secret sauce has been in the highly-skilled team members and their passion to construct the best classified user experience for our community.”
The smartest move we’ve made so far: “Hiring talented people. Period.”
The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “Not starting sooner. We got the idea back in 2013, but didn’t start building it until 2014. Video is a large part of our platform and Internet video consumption has gone up rapidly. If we launched a year ago, we would probably be in a much different place today.”
Would you rather have Gates, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “Bezos knows online marketplaces. Gates has funded projects toward the fight against human trafficking. Zuckerberg started the social media revolution. We want all three men in our corner. We grew up watching them build their empire, contributing to society, and they’ve inspired us to do the same with Sayist.”
Our favorite team-building activity is: “Team outings for Chinese food and beer. Yum!”
The biggest thing we look for when hiring is: “People who can deliver and have attention to detail. Having a passion for technology, and a sense of humor is also required!”
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “Focus, don’t get caught up on the small things, know what your path to success is and stick to it. If you have an idea, make it into a reality.”