Startup Trends: How to Ensure Your Company Outlives the Buzz


There’s nothing like Black Friday (or even Prime Day) to make you abandon all of your morals and standards because you want to buy all the things. But don’t feel too bad because retail marketing is designed to convince you that you really do need that high tech, electronic pepper grinder. And why not at such a great price?

As a Senior Executive at Walmart for 10 years, Andy Ruben is well-versed on the deceitful ways of retail therapy. On Black Friday of 2012, he and ecological activistAdam Werbach (former CEO and Head of Sustainability at Saatchi & Saatchi) launched Yerdle as a way to promote #reuse and shake up our relationship with our precious stuff.

The concept of Yerdle is really straightforward. Everything you buy/sell is free with the exception of shipping costs. To give something away (tools, appliances, books, clothes, etc), you post a picture of the item and give it a price in Yerdle dollars. When someone “buys” that item, you get those Yerdle dollars to use on anything in the app. The more you give, the more you can get. We talked to Ruben about how his team plans to outlast the trend and create a whole new lifestyle for their users.


“Twenty-five percent of the things that we ultimately get or need can be found from existing closets and garages as opposed to retail shelves.”


Make a Lasting Impression

Ruben said you have to first realize that companies don’t make trends. They’re created to fulfill a niche within them. But at some point, you have to look beyond that niche.

To prove their value, Yerdle is not just changing how people get rid of the stuff they don’t want— they’re changing how to get the stuff we do want. When you pay $6 for a barely used coffee machine, it’ll be hard to go back to Target or Amazon Prime. And that’s a change that sticks.

Make It Easy for Your Users

Posting on Yerdle takes a minute or less, and they plan to make it even easier. Ruben said, “We’re going to get to the point where all you have to do is take pictures of things you aren’t using, and put them on the app.”

But no matter how easy it is to post, many people just aren’t in to secondhand stuff. To convince those folks, Ruben said that name brands are a major driving force, and so is our reliance on storage units.

Self storage is up 1000% in the last 20 years. Let’s say your kid has a Patagonia jacket. They will probably outgrow that jacket while it’s in storage (taking up space) all summer.

So Yerdle gives someone else that jacket while giving you more space in your house, and in exchange, you get Yerdle dollars to spend on something else you may need.

Ruben said, “Twenty-five percent of the things that we ultimately get or need can be found from existing closets and garages as opposed to retail shelves.”

Even if you’re adverse to secondhand goods, it’s hard to ignore free money, and before you know it, you’re hooked. Creating a win-win for your users is a win-win for you. It’ll lead to more users who stick around longer.