WhaBam Seasons Auction Site With Community Elements

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Auction platform whaBam takes a little eBay, a pinch of Craigslist and adds a splash of MySpace for a new kind of community-oriented bidding.

CEO Eren Niazi, 29, formulated whaBam's recipe. After years of research, Mr. Niazi found what he thought to be the perfect mix of ingredients for an online auction site.

"Auction users wanted a community similar to the community sites like MySpace to make them feel more comfortable buying from strangers online," he said. "EBay doesn't let you see the life story of the seller. Our option lets users create profiles with hobbies and interests and pictures, which gives buyers and sellers confidence."

The whaBam platform works like eBay, where sellers list and buyers buy.

The difference for sellers, however, is that instead of paying a listing fee and a graded commission for the sale, whaBam gives sellers two options. Sellers can pay whaBam a commission of 1 percent with a $25 ceiling after the sale is completed, or they can pay a monthly membership fee of $49.99 and have the ability to sell an unlimited number of listings.

If the item does not sell, the whaBam seller can re-list the item automatically for free. This lower listings cost aims to appeal to sellers.

WhaBam also hosts 15 images as a complimentary service.

Buyers can purchase using money orders and cashier's checks. WhaBam does not take PayPal, but BamPal -- its own secured money-transfer system -- is expected to debut soon.

Beyond the difference in selling fees and payment systems, whaBam also offers networking.

For its part, eBay lets users read a buyer or seller's history through a user ratings system. Every transaction is followed with an e-mail where the buyer and seller of an item can rate their experience. This information is saved and available on eBay's Web site under the user's profile history.

WhaBam expands this experiences list to include a whole identity profile of personal tastes, interests and hobbies. Though most of the user profiles on www.whabam.com are sellers, the few buyers profiles give marketing potential to sellers.

Personal e-mail addresses are not allowed on the site to keep the community network connected. All users are given a whaMail e-mail account, which is hosted on the site.

The platform is taking off, according to Mr. Niazi, with 10,000 registered users and 100,000 visitors after a year on the Web.

Despite a few instances of false items listed for sale, which were quickly removed from whabam.com, there have been no reports of fraud, according to Mr. Niazi. The much-larger eBay and Craigslist are known to e-mail users regularly to warn against phishing e-mails and fraudulent behavior.

WhaBam markets itself on other auction sites as well as marketing the products listed on its site with Google keywords.

"Our objective is to drive traffic to the item, so we include a free-of-charge search service to promote for our sellers," Mr. Niazi said.

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