Like a polished and mobile-first Craigslist, New York City-based Bondsy is building a social network that lets you trade just about anything with your friends. No strangers allowed.
Bondsy graduated a year ago from TechStars NYC as a simple social network for selling stuff from your phone — but since then it has evolved into a tool that could help you reconnect with your friends in the real world. So far, people have used the service to trade handwritten letters in exchange for handwritten replies, gadgets for homemade dinners, and my favorite example, bacon for coffee beans.
Diego Zambrano, Bondsy’s founder and CEO, tells me that he learned a lot simply by letting users approach the social network as they saw fit.
“If you give tools that allow people to be creative, people get very creative,” Zambrano said in an interview. “If we go beyond transaction and become a platform that allows people to express themselves, that creates a true bond between people. Those are the most exciting things for us.”
The company’s free iPhone app lets you create a trade listing for just about anything. Maybe you want to get rid of your old records, maybe you’re trying to sell a piece of furniture, or maybe you just want to have dinner with your friends. Bondsy appears to be trying to recreate social connections in the real world that were common before social networks pushed us to the digital world.
To encourage creativity, Bondsy places a premium on privacy. The company decided to build its own social graph, rather than latch onto an existing network like Facebook and Twitter, because it didn’t trust the way other companies managed their privacy settings.
“By building the way we’re building, it directly changes what people share,” Zambrano said. “It directly changes how open people are.”
Bondsy has received seed funding from Thrive Capital, Betaworks, Chris Dixon, David Tisch, and others.