‘Facebook’s Marketplace feels like a frustrating lottery’

| Rense Kuipers

‘One man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ is a principle that applies to the University of Twente Marketplace group on Facebook. Frustrated by the flaws of the social medium, Matthijs Dethmers (19), a first year’s bachelor student of Business & IT, started his own marketplace app for students and employees of the UT and Saxion: uniMarket.

‘Earlier this year, reading about another Facebook data leak was the final straw for me, so I deleted my account,’ says Dethmers. ‘That decision didn’t help with making a bit of extra pocket change. I used to offer goods and services on the University of Twente Marketplace, like phone repairs. So my target group was gone all of a sudden.’

Addiction

The last few months, Dethmers built a marketplace app called uniMarket, specifically for the UT and Saxion community. ‘Especially international students aren’t familiar with Dutch advertising site Marktplaats, so I followed a Google course and started building this app. It kind of became an addiction; at some point I spent more time programming than studying.’

At this point, the app is literally in its early days, being online since last weekend. ‘There aren’t that many ads yet, since I think about twenty people downloaded the app until now,’ says Dethmers, who wasn’t necessarily frustrated by the UT Marketplace itself. ‘There are a lot of good bargains on it, the people are nice. But I want to offer a good alternative, especially since more and more people are moving away from Facebook. However, I wouldn’t mind collaborating with the UT Marketplace.’

Frustrating lottery

The basics are there in the app, according to the BiT student: people can upload a picture, fill in a category, a title, description and price. Not only for goods and services, but also to announce events. ‘There is room for improvement, I tried to keep it simple on this first try. I think the major upside compared to Facebook is that people can find what they’re looking for more easily, by using category, search and favourite functionalities. Even in groups, Facebook makes it extremely hard to find things because of its algorithm. It feels like a frustrating lottery.’

Dethmers says he’s not planning on making money with the app – now only available on Android. ‘I started this project out of personal interest. But there is an option for sponsored ads. If many people start using this app, I will have to find a way to pay for server costs. Then again, the success of this app stands or falls with the number of users, I’m very aware of that.’