Northeastern University student Alvaro Perez is working to streamline the moving process, making it easier for people to buy, sell, or donate used furniture with the click of a button.
He is the co-founder of a new Boston-based startup called Dibind, an online marketplace through which users can post and purchase high quality secondhand beds, tables, and more at an affordable price.
The target audience is college students, he says, especially those on a limited budget who want to decorate their spaces with nice furniture or clean house right before they graduate.
“Dibind is a company made by students for students,” explains Perez, E’17, a fifth-year industrial engineering major who founded the bootstrapped business with his friends at Boston University and Suffolk University. “Having gone through it before, we know all about the headaches involved in buying and selling furniture and believe that we have a holistic solution to the move-in and move-out process.”
Here’s how it works: The seller posts photos of the item he wants to discard—a TV stand, say, or a desk chair—along with a price and a brief description. Dibind reviews the images of the item, making sure it is in good condition, and then picks it up from the seller’s residence once a buyer has been found. The buyer, for his part, browses the online catalogue, picks out his favorite items, and then selects his desired delivery date. For every sale, the startup takes a 20 to 30 percent commission.
My co-op helped me a lot in terms of dealing with unknowns. It helped me better organize ideas and make our process as smooth as possible.”
— Alvaro Perez, Dibind’s co-founder
If the seller cannot find a buyer, Dibind will donate the furniture to the Salvation Army, handling the logistics for free. If the buyer is a nomadic city dweller and knows he will eventually find another place, he can utilize a feature called Dibind Boomerang, in which the startup will price and re-post the item 30 days before the move. “We are trying to expand the furniture lifecycle,” says Perez, noting that Americans throw away more than 9 million tons of furniture every year.
The entrepreneurs behind Dibind have outsourced the development of a mobile app to a software company in India and are currently looking to expand the startup to Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. After graduating in the spring, Perez plans to dedicate all his time and energy to the company, with the goal of making it the No. 1 marketplace for buying and selling used furniture. Unlike Craigslist, its primary competitor, he says, Dibind guarantees quality goods and offers pickup and delivery service. As he puts it, “We want to be the first choice for students in Boston while building a community of users.”
Perez will be drawing on his classroom and co-op experience to take the startup to the next level, from a local venture with a small pocket of users to a nationwide phenomenon with mass appeal. Last year, he worked as a business improvement intern for a Wisconsin-based industrial automation company called Rockwell Automation, where he honed his understanding of Six Sigma, a data-driven approach for eliminating defects in any process. In the fall, he’ll be taking courses in logistics management and supply chain management, with the hope that his newfound knowledge will help him and his business partners better manage their orders and reduce their lead times. “My co-op helped me a lot I terms of dealing with unknowns,” he says. “It helped me better organize ideas and make our process as smooth as possible.”
To celebrate the launch of its website, Dibind will host a party on Friday at its co-working space in Cambridge, Massachusetts.