Startup Spotlight: Venndor

Editor’s Note: Meet McGill Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship up and coming startup, Venndor. Having gone through the McGill Dobson Cup 2016, they spent the summer in the McGill X-1 Accelerator Program. Venndor will officially be available on the App Store for iOS beginning January 3, 2017. If you have a startup idea and would like to build a startup, consider registering for the McGill Dobson Cup 2017 and launching your company through the competition.

By Anthony Heinrich, Co-founder, Venndor

Venndor makes online classifieds fun

Venndor is a mobile marketplace for people to buy and sell items without haggling over price. The app uses a matching system to instantly find a win-win price for the buyer and seller, eliminating the time and hassle of negotiating prices.

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Venndor competed in the McGill Dobson Cup 2016 and then went on to participate in the McGill X-1 Accelerator program this past summer.

One year ago, Julien Marlatt and myself were frustrated by our inability to get rid of old textbooks that we had accumulated over our years at school. The problem was that every time we tried to post them online people kept trying to haggle the price down with us. We were trying to keep track of different people’s offers, watching buyers get angry, start flaking and not answering, all because they wanted to get a few bucks out of us. We were hardly able to sell and get rid of anything.

Then a solution dawned on us. We discovered that by hiding an item’s price and then asking someone how much they would pay for it, there was often a positive difference between those two values. This meant there was an opportunity for both sides to win (and save money) by meeting in the middle. If Julien was willing to pay $60 for a textbook that I was hoping to sell for $40, we could match at $50 and each save ten dollars!

Julien Marlatt, co-founder of Venndor, pitched the startup at McGill Demo Days in Montreal, San Francisco and Boston in September 2016
Julien Marlatt, co-founder of Venndor, pitched the startup at McGill Demo Days in Montreal, San Francisco and Boston in September 2016.

Venndor was born. The iOS application shows no prices and instead you get to say what you are willing to pay for an item. If you match (meaning your offer is higher than the hidden price), our algorithm will instantly calculate a price in between, and you can now choose to buy that item at this win-win price if you’d like to. No haggling, no negotiating, no problem.

We pitched our idea to our entrepreneurship class we were both enrolled in at McGill, brought on our third co-founder, Tynan Davis, and got serious about it. In March, the three of us competed in the McGill Dobson Cup 2016, and although we didn’t make it past the semi-finals, we persevered because we knew we were onto something. Over the summer we took part in the McGill X-1 Accelerator Program, expanded our team to 5 and set off building our mobile app, testing assumptions, and getting a plethora of advice and feedback from the great network offered by the program. Overall the McGill Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship has played a big role in helping us build our idea into the business that we are today.

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Check out the Venndor mobile app today at www.getvenndor.com!

Another big pillar of support for our team has been the McGill-Notman House partnership that has provided us with space to work in. When I interned this summer at MaRS Discovery District in Toronto, I worked with a team to administer a network of regional innovation centers across Ontario that supported entrepreneurship in their respective regions. In doing so I recognized the fundamental importance of having a central place for startups to come together and work. Place plays such an important role in the development of teams, the collisions and connections we make, and the growth that a venture achieves. In this way working at the Notman House has played a big part in our alignment and progress over the past three months.

So far we’ve helped McGill students sell hundreds of dollars worth of stuff through the beta app (including lamps, toasters, books, iPods, plants, and much more). Moving forward, January 3, 2017 marks our official launch date on iOS as we become the go-to place for students at McGill and Concordia to buy and sell used textbooks next semester.

Haggling sucks, plain and simple. Venndor, on the other hand, is a fresh alternative. For example: you know that feeling when you see something interesting in a store, turn it over to see the price, and are thrilled when you see it’s less than you were hoping? That little jolt of excitement is exactly what happens ever time you make a match on Venndor.

We hope you’ll join us in celebrating our big launch in January on the iOS App Store! Visit us at www.getvenndor.com today!

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Dobson Chronicles

The Dobson Chronicles is the official blog of the McGill Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship.