Craigslist has been a fertile source of comic inspiration for some time, but few have mined it as compellingly as startup Replyboard.
The Seattle-based company, which went live on Monday, launched with four videos that feature Replyboard's co-founder Steinar Skipsnes and friend Nick Ellis punking real Craigslist sellers.
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The methods they use are inspired. For example, a guy selling a guitar is dumbstruck when the two put sheer stockings over their heads (who wouldn't be?) and a woman erupts in a screaming fit when Ellis uses her bathroom to take an impromptu shower.
Each person featured in the videos was given $50 to sign a waiver.
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Such buffoonery has a purpose. The clips all end with the message "Should've used Replyboard."
So what is Replyboard? It's an intermediary designed to weed out flaky buyers and sellers on Craigslist and other online classifieds. Ideally, a seller would create profile page from Replyboard, which would appear as a contact link in a Craigslist ad. (Here's a sample.)
The profile is designed to be an extra step, sort of like a CAPTCHA but for lazy and mean people rather than bots.
"Instead of getting random spam emails, people low balling you or whatever else, through using Replyboard you're actually weeding out the laziest most flaky people," Skipsnes says. "The people most likely to be irritating to deal with or be no-shows."
How does Replyboard make money from this?
"Right now we don't and that isn't our focus right now," Skipsnes says. "We're focused on building a product that people get value from using, which is a really hard thing to do. I’ll take a line from Marc Andreessen … 'market share now equals revenue later.'"
While Replyboard's business model may not be proven, the company is off to a solid start with these videos. After DollarShaveClub's awesome viral video and now this, we should expect more startups to tap their inner Ashton Kutcher.
This story originally published on Mashable here.