LAS VEGAS -- Dylan Bathurst recalled the time he opted to sell a microwave oven, small television and other belongings he stored at a friend's house but wanted to do so without the hassle of waking up early one morning to host a garage sale.
So he started taking photos of the items with his smart phone and sharing them with friends to see if they were interested. Not only did he get rid of his goods, but he also hit on a brainstorm.
Today he and two other developers who formerly worked for online shoe and clothing retailer Zappos.com, Ray Morgan and Alex Coleman, are the driving forces behind the Las Vegas tech startup Rumgr. A takeoff on the word rummager, Rumgr is akin to a massive garage sale for iPhone users who have downloaded the company's free app.
Sellers take photos of their sale items with their iPhones and the images instantly appear in the app. For prospective buyers, the photos of items for sale are sorted by distance from where they are situated, based on global positioning system readings. The items that are within a mile come up first, and then two miles away and so forth.
"We're focusing on this whole idea of the garage sale and its serendipity," Bathurst said from the company's office in the Ogden residential complex, where the walls are covered with colorful sticky notes. "We think one man's trash is another man's collection."
Users are able to leave public comments or questions with each item they see, and they can bargain with the sellers. Once the buyer and seller agree on a price, they use Rumgr's private messaging function to complete the transaction.
Rumgr retains the right to disable one's access to the company app if a user is abusive to anyone else, a situation Morgan said has occurred only once.
"This person was being rude to people and we got feedback from others," Morgan said.
Since launching the app in February from Rumgr.com, 13,000 individuals have downloaded the company's platform, about two-thirds of whom live in Southern Nevada. Some 4,000 items are available for sale.
"It's a cool, addictive way to check out the stuff around you," Bathurst said.
Items can be quickly placed for sale on Rumgr by just taking its picture.
Serendipity is a good word to describe the Rumgr experience. Furniture and electronics are two popular categories. But there are also plenty of surprises. One of Morgan's favorites was a ceramic rooster. Another was an old, three-reel slot machine.
Someone also offered up museum quality snake oil bottles.
"A guy sold a fire hydrant ...it was like about $100," Bathurst said. "It was higher than I thought a fire hydrant would sell for."
Rumgr caught the attention of the trio's former boss, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, fellow Zappos executives Fred Mossler and Arun Rajan, and Resort Gaming Group CEO Andrew Donner. They have contributed a combined $500,000 in seed money to help Rumgr grow.
The Rumgr team works out of their office at the Ogden.
The company intends to hire at least three employees in the coming months, including a programmer who will be assigned the job of designing an app for users of Android phones. Rumgr also will look for a way to make money by establishing a payment mechanism where it will be able to collect fees based on successful transactions.
"It's real neat to know that people are not only downloading our app, but they're also making real world connections," Morgan said. "We actually want to build a company that is sustainable and makes people's lives easier."