Imaneed Classifieds: A Silly Name -- and a Great Idea -- With South Florida Roots

Imaneed Classifieds: A Silly Name -- and a Great Idea -- With South Florida Roots

Imaneed is a real-time classifieds service that is based in Weston, where its founder, Matt Lally, lives. He created the site as a way of making classified-style ads more dynamic -- functioning in real time rather than "print time." The idea is innovative, even if the name's kind of goofy.

After completing his education in the U.K., Lally moved to South Florida and founded Augme Mobile, which he later sold to Modavox Inc. (an Arizona company). At that point, Lally told Juice he saw a need to bring newspaper-style classifieds up to date with a more real-time, net-based service.

Compared to the usual classifieds sites, swamped by get-rich-quick marketers and fly-by-night internet gurus, Imaneed is streamlined.  

It works in a way similar to a live, reverse auction. The buyer posts whatever he'd like to get (service, product, etc.). Bidders then try to win his business in real time, right away. The name is split as "ima need" -- the kind of text-message shorthand that's comprehensible to a generation raised on cell phones.

The service includes secure phone-to-phone connections, so neither party is aware of the other's contact information. Sellers see the ad, respond to it by calling a number that connects to Imaneed and then wait while Imaneed calls the buyer and ties the two calls together. First responses are the winning bidder as the site is geared toward getting fast service rather than price.

The site also facilitates mobile, text, and other options for connections.

The service itself is interesting, though so far no means of income appears on the site. As with most startups, it likely plans to pull revenue, eventually, from paid services. Here are excerpts from my conversation with Lally.

How will Imaneed monetize itself? Do you have plans to charge to bid on projects?

That's one of the ways we are considering. There are a number of possible alternatives. My intent is to keep it free for jobseekers and people who are looking for service from a business, so we can monetize it by looking to businesses posting job listings and businesses responding to a listing requesting service.

Is Imaneed focused only on South Florida, Florida, or is it nationally available?

It's nationally available, but my first goal is to get a good user base in South Florida. It's OK to say we're focused on South Florida for now. 

Where did the name Imaneed come from, and don't you think it's kind of silly?

I suppose it could be called silly. It is -- as you probably suspect -- a shortened version of "I'm going to (gonna) need." I like short domain names, and I think this one is quite easy to remember. The original concept for the text-messaging portion of the service was that users would submit a text request by texting "IMANEED something", but that changed to "NEED something" instead.

Do you really think you can actually make this work with sites like Craigslist owning the sector?

Craigslist is certainly a giant.  

Imaneed lets providers register their services using keywords. For example, I might enter the following keywords: ruby, rails, developer. I am now effectively listed until I remove these interests or decide I no longer wish to receive alerts. Whenever someone in my area sends in a request containing these words, I will be alerted. On Craigslist, I would have to keep reposting my ad.  

While some people love scouring ads on Craigslist looking for work, I think a large number of people would be interested in just being informed when someone is interested in their services. That has a double effect -- when I need work, I can get alerts about available work and be able to respond quickly to them; when I want something done, I can expect that a number of people will see my request immediately and not just when they happen to log on (perhaps days) later.

Also, there's the mobile element. I think generally that people use Craigslist when they are at a desk. That's fine, but people have their mobile phone with them everywhere. That means that if I'm on a job site, I can still easily request or be alerted to new work opportunities as soon as they come in.

Once Imaneed has a sufficiently large body of service providers listed within a particular area, a person or business that needs something will be able to put in a request for a service, a temporary employee, or whatever and expect that potential candidates will be alerted immediately. The interested ones will reply quickly, and there will be a noticeable improvement in response time over Craigslist.

I have seen way too many classified sites come to the market only to rapidly fail, realizing that the world doesn't need a new version of what they currently use. Even I personally started Jicka to see if I could make traction against Craigslist and quickly surmised that it is one of the toughest battles to fight. If sites such as OLX and Kijiji find it hard to gain marketshare with millions in funding, it seems like Imaneed might be a potentially doomed endeavor.

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