This Teen Wants to Change How You Buy On the Internet

Swapidy founder Adam Ahmad. [Photo by Erin Reed]

When he was 11 years old Adam Ahmad wanted to re-jigger his Sony PlayStation so it could play Playstation video games and, more importantly, non-Playstation video games.He spent $10 on creating that open-source code that any programmer can use. Later, he sold his program on the Internet for $50 each.

That was seven years ago.

When he was 13, Ahmad created a version of that code for the iPhone. He also sold that software on eBay, Amazon, and Craigslist. But he was getting annoyed when he was doing all this selling because he found the e-commerce cumbersome.

That is when he came up with the idea of Swapidy, a potential rival to Internet giant eBay. Unlike other sites, Swapidy, in a limited way, confirms the authenticity of the goods being traded.

“I didn’t want it to be buying and selling because there are already so many of those buying and selling type auctions out there, and they have limited success,” said Ahmad, who lives with his parents (CK) in Libertyville, about 40 minutes north of downtown Chicago. “I wanted to completely change the game.”

Swapidy is an online trading marketplace that enables two people to get connected and trade whatever they want. (He said the word “swapidy,” for him, encompassed the meaning of his business– a swift movement from one place to the other.)

Once you make a deal, both of the products are shipped to Swapidy headquarters in Libertyville, IL where quality-assurance experts confirm a product is functional and as described, that, for example, a video games works and that it really is “Call of Duty.” (He won’t say exactly how many inspectors he has but acknowledges it’s only “a few.”)

Ahmad thought of the idea for Swapidy.com in December 2011 when he was a high-school senior. He persuaded school officials at Libertyville High School to let him use half of his school day to develop his business and count it as “Senior Experience” credit.

What are Swapidy’s competitive advantages?

  • Swapidy verifies the items.
  • Swapidy potentially has a national database, rather than a neighborhood database like that of Craigslist.
  • Consumers avoid the fees some sites charge to post their items.
  • Swapidy does all the work.

So far, Swapidy.com uses three categories: video games and consoles, gift cards, and books. Adam plans to expand the categories to iPods, cell phones, and tablet PC’s as business grows. In the future, Swapidy will open more verification centers. One day, he dreams that users will be able to swap cars through Swapidy.com.

Competitors, like EBay, say companies like Swapidy can never work on a large enough scale.

Swapidy.com went live June 25.

“I want to see where I can grow it to a point where I can’t handle it anymore,” said Ahmad. “But we’ll just have to see, right? It’s an adventure. Everyday is like a new obstacle.”

And what of college? Ahmad says he wants to see where he can take Swapidy, Inc. within the next year. Depending on where he is at that point, he’ll decide whether or not he will go. ❒

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