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KC man starts online marketplace for used phones

Posted: 2:13 PM, May 19, 2016
Updated: 2016-05-19 18:14:59-04

It's a website that Ben Edwards built essentially for himself. He never dreamed that thousands of other people would eventually use it too.

"Swappa was born out of the need for me personally to be able to buy used smartphones safely," said Edwards.

Swappa is an online marketplace where anyone can buy and sell gently used phones. As a software engineer, Edwards started it as a part time job out of his Kansas City home. Five years later, it's a full time job. And he has a little help from the 25 people he's hired across the country.

"Our first several hires were all users of the site," said Edwards. "So they were people who bought and sold on the site. They loved Swappa so much they wanted to work for Swappa."

Edwards says Swappa makes the process of buying a used phone safer and more dependable than other sites. Sellers must provide the phone's serial number, along with a picture of the phone that includes a unique code provided by the website.

"It proves the person actually has the phone that they're trying to sell," said Edwards of the picture.

Swappa makes money by charging the buyer of each phone a flat $10 transaction fee.

Now with more than $5 million worth of phones sold on the site each month, this small KC business is on its way to something much larger.    

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Justin Wilfon can be reached at  justin.wilfon@kshb.com.

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