Every now and then you stumble on a website which seems destined to be A Big Thing. The Bounty Network seems like it could well be one. I’ll say up front that I’m acquainted with one of the guys behind this project, but ordinarily that isn’t enough to make me write about something. (Nor, for the skeptical, am I getting paid in any way to write this.) After trying out the site itself, I was simply impressed.
After a painless registration process that establishes your general geographic location, the Bounty Network opens up as a cross between eBay and craigslist, with Google Maps tossed in. Combining a modified bidding process like eBay with the locale sensitivity of craigslist, you not only get the ability to list and bid for items and services, but you get a map that shows you local projects and services. Moreover, unlike craigslist, Bounty Network is distance-sensitive rather than city-specific. This means that you aren’t limited to listings in your particular city; rather, you can see all listings within X miles of your own location. This could be a breakthrough offering for anyone wanting to buy or sell services or items – but especially services.
I haven’t played around with it much yet, but it seems pretty obvious that it’s the way to go if you want to offer, say, babysitting or lawnmowing, or any other sort of service with a limited geographical range. Obviously it’s a pain to tote your carpentry tools across the country to build custom shelving for someone, but with Bounty Network you could simply post a bounty and local people with those skills can contact you. Once enough local bounties (and bounty hunters) discover this, it will simply be much better than craiglist, and will blow eBay out of the water for anything best done locally.
There are a couple other interesting innovations: the feedback system at Bounty Network gives a “reputation” element that eBay lacks, so if you get a bad reputation yourself, it feeds back on people who have given you good feedback in the past. While there will have to be some caution against deliberate poisoning of the system, it seems that this could prevent careless awarding of positive feedback to people who really don’t deserve it. Secondly, unlike eBay, the poster of a bounty can choose to accept any bid, rather than only the highest bid. I think this will allow for more interesting bidding processes overall, as well as not obliging you to accept services from a local person with a bad reputation and a high bid.
I’m not sure that it will necessarily replace either eBay or craigslist, but it certainly is shaping up to be a strong competitor once word gets out. If you have a service to sell, or simply want to check it out, I strongly recommend it. The Bounty Network guys are still looking for feedback, so feel free to tell them if you think of any problems/suggestions while you’re there.:-)