Simbi: Digital Time Trading
Written by: Sam Foust on July 4, 2017
Time trading is an exchange of services for services. Simbi — a startup who went through the tech accelerator Y Combinator — raised enough capital to build a digital platform to connect a community to do just this. Simbi’s founded by KJ Erickson and funded by Venture Capitalists who believe in their mission. In traditional tech startup fashion, they currently have no revenue streams, but are likely focusing on user acquisition, engagement, and retention. They seem to be doing well. A Tech Crunch article from a year ago claimed 15,000 services and they now boast 65,000.
It’s interesting to see US currency being used to create this platform. In many ways it is beyond that, as they offer their currency, also named Simbi, in exchange for joining, trading, and growing the user base. Of course it has to be funded with cash- I’m not some nihilistic anti-capitalist living in a sad fantasy. Harsh, I know, but come on, help us out, the system isn’t going anywhere, but we can change it together.
Building A Community
Last year I signed up, did a few deals, but decided there weren’t enough skilled and active members to work with. However, I decided that way of thinking just contributed to that issue, so I got back on, added a service, posted a request, and used the search filter to find requests that I could help with. I wanted to give it another try because I believe in what they are doing, and the community they are trying to establish. It’s going alright, not great, but I’ll likely be on it for years to come. Their core company values are described as community, reciprocation, empathy, abundance, trust, and empowerment. Dang, get it.
Many of Simbi’s users are very liberal, open-minded, and driven to do the kind of business which does good in the world. This makes it the perfect place for newbie Social Entrepreneurs, as well as what I hope to be a growing community of highly skilled members who see it as a way to give back. It feels like it has a lot of potential for networking and promoting professional credentials, like a LinkedIn or Quora for social good. There is also plenty of room to join to meet new people, build new skills, and explore the idea of working out of the system, on their system. Though they may prefer to call it our system? KJ if you’re reading this let me know 🙂
The drawbacks: many use it as a place for learning new skills, often mentioning they don’t have money to pay for services… You have to spend a decent amount of time wading through the bad deals. Pricing can be quite skewed, they do a lot to help establish a relative value, but for example, I noticed a user who requested a full website for 50 Simbi, and offered his remote data recovery service for 150 Simbi. Honestly it struck a nerve. It seems too many people do this- over-valuing their service and trying to get work done for as little as possible. On the flip side of this, with transparent pricing and reviews, it’s easier to pick and choose whom you’d like to work with. Also, it helps you get annoyed with strangers ;)
For improvements: I’d like to see them implement the AirBnB method of not showing a review until the other does theirs. The platform can be confusing to use, for example, if you are on your profile, you have to go to the homepage, go to a service category, and then select “local only” to see what services are nearby. Too many steps and with no indication of how to get there. That was a how-to complaint.
Try It Out!
You’ll see I feature it on this website. It’s the best call to action for the goals of my website, it allows users to sign up and pay for consultations with spare Simbis to find others and start trading up their own skills. I really appreciate what they are doing, what their values are, and their mission. It’s really beautiful and different than what almost every VC funded startup is doing. Give it a try? Disclaimer, I get Simbi when you use that link, which gave me exactly 0 motivation to write this.