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English-language version of Luistxo Fernandez's blog

Zestapunta.com new online platform to exchange goods, those things that pile up at home

Luistxo Fernandez 2013/01/10 15:44
The London tech-team that created Nestoria, and with whom I have been lucky to work in several projects overt the last year, have launched a new thing, Zestapunta.com, and it opens today, available in English, Spanish and Basque (!). I had the chance to interview the founder of Zestapunta, Ed Freyfogle, for a Basque blog, and as those Q & A were published in Basque, I decided I could bring here the original exchange.

So, here it is Zestapunta.com and this is the interview with Ed Freyfogle that was published in Basque in Sustatu. The following lines are the origin of that text.


ZestaPunta.com logoa

Sustatu: What is the idea behind Zesta Punta?

Ed: Zesta Punta is a service designed to help us share things we have but no longer need while also having fun and engaging with friends.

Most people have all kinds of useful stuff sitting in their closet unused - clothes, books, games, videos, tools, etc. that their friends could get a lot of value out of (especially in these difficult economic times). We’re hoping to create a platform that makes it much simpler, more fun, and more rewarding to share things you no longer need or want with those who could get value out of them.

We try to focus on keeping it fun. To do this we use the game analogy. Players earn carrots - our mascot is a rabbit, you can see him in our promo video. You can then spend the carrots to get things from others. One of the key features though is that you can search for things just from your friends that also play, or friends of friends. Sharing with friends is great not just because you’re helping your friend, but also gives you a good excuse to meet up and catch up.

We try to provide a simple overview of how it all works on our “how to play” page.

Why is an American launching a web service in Basque? Do you speak Basque?

Unfortunately my Basque is still very limited (though improving!). For the last 6 years I’ve been working on the property search engine Nestoria together with Javier Etxebeste, who lives in Bilbao. One of the great side benefits of the Nestoria business is that it means I get to come to the Basque country frequently, and have always enjoyed it. It’s a truly unique place and culture, very different than London where I live.  As an English speaker, one thing I’m always struck by is the sense of solidarity that using a “small” language like Basque creates. As we watched the financial crisis engulf Spain, Europe and much of the world over the last few years I wondered if the combination of technology and that sense of community might together be an effective tool to help people in these difficult times. Zesta Punta is an experiment to find out.

That being said, we of course don’t want to limit the fun just to Basque speakers, the site is also fully available in Spanish and English.

Why call it Zesta Punta?

(Zesta Punta is one of the names for the sport also known as Jai-Alai) I wanted a name that conveyed the Basque country origins of the service, and I thought the metaphor of throwing things in and getting other things back would work. I know at first it might be confusing because of the mix up with the actual sport, but so far the feedback has been very positive.

There are already second hand services like ebay, why should someone use Zesta Punta?

Ebay is a great service, but frankly it’s not about having fun. Selling something on ebay is a lot of work, usually for not much gain. Using Zesta Punta to share things with your friends is fun and makes your friend happy.

So I’d say the biggest difference is that our focus is on fun and enjoyment.

So how exactly does Zesta Punta work?

Players join the service and start with a few carrots. You can then spend the carrots to get stuff from others. You can earn more carrots by inviting friends, giving away things you no longer need and sending us feedback.

What have you learned in the last two months during the test period?

We’ve had phenomenal feedback and built up a motivated community of several hundred players, mainly women in and around Bilbao, but with a few pockets in Pamplona, Eibar and elsewhere. Many thanks to all of them.

They’ve helped us find a few bugs, but the main learning is that simple is almost always better. People want to have fun with the service, but they really don’t want it to be complicated.

Zestapunta: gauzak aukeran

For our more technical readers, what are some of the technologies used to build the service?

Right now it’s mainly built in perl using a framework called Mojolicius with lots of javascript and mysql. On the frontend to develop quickly we’ve use JQuery and Bootstrap and a service called FilePicker which I can highly recommend. Behind the scenes we use AWS and github.

One of the main technologies we use is Facebook’s API. To register with Zesta Punta, you need to do so via Facebook, so we can pull in your identity.

Our goal with this first version of the service was to learn from the users. We think of it as a prototype, not the final thing. As we learn more I’m sure our technology will evolve accordingly. As an example, we know mobile is critical. So far we’ve focused on the mobile web version, but will also be releasing apps soon.

We have started to expose our API, anyone who is interested can see the beginnings here and if you have questions or want to experiment please get in touch.

How can we expect Zesta Punta to develop in the future?

The main thing to expect is that we’ll keep trying to learn from the players. We welcome all feedback (so much so that players earn carrots when they send us feedback).

I invite everyone to sign up and give it a try, we have hundreds of great things (you can browse them here) available for free. Though I don’t speak Basque since I had the chance to speak here in 2006 I’ve followed the growth of sustatu, and I know it’s a lively community that can no doubt give us lots of useful advice on improving the service.

I have one request though, please be patient with us, we’re a small team - there are many new features we want to add, we are getting to them, one by one.

Anyone who wants to stay up to date on Zesta Punta should follow us on twitter (@playzestapunta) or read our blog (in Spanish).

Well... there it is: Zestapunta.com. Good luck!

Aurkezpena
LUISTXO FERNANDEZ

Luistxo works in CodeSyntax, tweets as @Luistxo and tries to manage the automated newssite Niagarank. This Cemetery is part of a distributed multilingual blog (?!). These are the Basque and Spanish versions:

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