First year UCI student Cameron Watkins is releasing an app called Swapz, an online marketplace for buying, selling, and trading clothing items, shoes, and accessories on Nov. 5.
App users can post items they own and want to sell onto the app, and other users can either buy it or offer a trade.
“When I say trade, I mean … if you have a pair of sneakers you don’t want anymore, you can post it on the app and say you’re looking for shirts, and someone who happens to want those sneakers can offer to sell some shirts in exchange and you would only have to pay a small shipping fee,” Watkins said.
Each item sold on the app is delivered to a facility where it is checked for quality and authenticity. After an item is checked, it is then shipped out to the buyer. Watkin’s website accompanies the app, which he released on Oct. 15.
Watkins had the idea of starting Swapz when he realized there was no centralized app for people to trade their items instead of going to a store or physical facility.
“I was at a sneaker store with my friend, and he wanted to trade in a brand new pair of sneakers he had just gotten from the store, but [instead] they gave him … store credit,” Watkins said. “That made no sense to me. He was definitely getting ripped off, but there was nothing he could do because there was nowhere else that he could trade his shoes at. That’s when I first came up with the idea behind Swapz.”
Watkins has been scammed in the past, so he wanted to create something that would allow people to trade without the dangers of online scammers.
“I wanted to make an app where you could safely trade items,” Watkins said.
Watkins spent seven months in the process of creating, designing and advertising his app.
“The beginning part of the process was a lot of learning, and trial and error,” Watkins said. “I had to teach myself how to start a business, how to [form] a limited liability company, how to file an LLC, how to raise … capital, how to write business reports, how to write contacts. Teaching myself all of that was probably the bulk of my early work.”
His next step was hiring a developer that suited his needs for Swapz. Watkins was able to do some of the programming but needed a professional to work on the app’s complexities.
After hiring the developer, the design phase began. The app then went through testing to ensure that all the features were running smoothly, with Watkins running his last test runs a week before the app was released.
Watkins started an Instagram account for the app and reached out to social media influencers and well-known Instagram pages for marketing.
“Building up a following was a little challenging, but I got to a place where I was able to hit up a few big pages and get some answers back. I heard back from WorldStar [Hip Hop], which will be a good partnership for us because of their big following,” Watkins said.
Watkins also contacted a number of smaller influencers that may help publicize his app and increase the number of downloads.
Watkins, who is currently an undeclared student, has found help for his app at UCI through the end stages of the process.
“Coming to UCI has helped. Even though I didn’t want to go to school because I really put all my effort into this app, it’s actually really helped being here,” Watkins said. “I’ve met a lot of people through networking, and some guys I met helped me film a really good-looking advertisement … That’s just the college life here at UCI, meeting people who can help you move forward and reach your goals.”
Swapz will be found on the App Store and Google Play Store starting Nov. 5.
Sabrina Contreras is a Campus News Intern for the fall 2021 quarter. She can be reached at email@example.com.