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YC-backed Giveaway is a peer-to-peer marketplace that uses virtual currency

Jordan Crook

YC-backed Giveaway lets folks give away their unused or unnecessary items in a marketplace. Unlike other buy and sell or donation platforms, Giveaway uses a virtual currency on the platform to reward people for listing their products for free on the app.

Users earn Karma coins each time they list an item on the website. Folks can then use that Karma to claim items listed on the app.

The first person to try to claim an item offers zero Karma for the item. From there, a countdown begins, allowing others to offer more Karma for the item until the clock runs out. The user who offered the most Karma gets to claim the item. They are then connected to the giver via the app and can set a time and place to meet for the transaction. The person who claimed the item can inspect it and then approve the transaction, triggering the exchange of Karma coin.

Users can also rate and review each other on the platform for the quality of their items.

The app promotes giving items away to earn Karma but does offer a flow for purchasing the virtual currency. One Karma coin is equal to about $.30.

Giveaway was founded by Artem Artemiuk, Siarhei Lepchankou, and Siarhei Stasilovich. The idea came to them when traveling in Austria and coming across a store that allowed customers to choose one item for free.

After building the platform, the trio launched the app in their home market of Belarus and saw strong early growth. Since then, Giveaway has expanded to Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and now the United States.

Artemiuk, Giveaway's CMO, said the company is laser focused on pre-moderation, which uses a combination of machine learning and human input to ensure that inappropriate items don't make it on the platform, including drugs, tobacco, alcohol, and weapons.

In terms of business model, Giveaway takes a percentage of all Karma coins purchased on the platform, which account for about 30 percent of all Karma. Giveaway also sees the opportunity to generate revenue through an enterprise product within the app, allowing big corporations to opt for Giveaway over sometimes costly recycling options, and pay for the opportunity to do so.

Giveaway has raised $150K from Y Combinator and will present at the accelerator's upcoming demo day.