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How this startup is making online classifieds simpler

Value Forest founder on how he turned an everyday annoyance into opportunity


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Early last year David Kaplan (23), launched Value Forest, a free website that allows users to search all of South Africa's major classifieds sites like OLX, Gumtree, Junkmail and Bidorbuy in one place. 

The idea came to him after a particularly exhausting and time consuming online search for a second hand item across all the classifieds sites. Kaplan, a fan of classifieds, says the goal was to build a platform that would allow users to find online deals easily in one place, get a market average price and also find the best value deals.  

Value Forest started out as a side project, a year later the platform's user base is showing growth with the majority of users finding the platform through a Google search. The plan, says Kaplan, is to begin to focus on marketing through other channels. 

"I'm trying to see how far I can push it bootstrapped"

SME South Africa talks to Kaplan about being a techpreneur, and the lessons that can only be learnt by doing. 

Value Forest founder,
David Kaplan.

On building a digital business

The goal is make the process of online classifieds simpler, smarter and in one place.

The vision for the company in the next 2 years is to keep growing, and to keep adding great features that can make online classifieds in South Africa better.

The startup is currently self-funded, I am not ready for funding just yet, I'm trying to see how far I can push it bootstrapped.

I attribute my success to my passion for technology and implementing ideas and my mentors.

On being an entrepreneur in SA

South Africa’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is still lacking in the core areas like education, training and funding. Although I believe these areas are receiving a lot more focus recently.

One of the biggest surprises about being a startup founder has been getting to mix with a great community of like-minded South Africans who are creating startup businesses. 

"It gets overwhelming sometimes juggling different roles"

On lessons learnt

There are quite a lot of things I wish I had known when I first got startedI believe you can read tons of great entrepreneur books but at the end of the day it’s the implementation, or lack thereof, that really cements the knowledge.

Some days are fun but certainly not all. New challenges keep coming but as a mentor told me, it’s like you’re in the ocean trying to get to an island, you have to keep swimming, if you stop, you’ll drown. Also take it one piece at a time. It gets overwhelming sometimes juggling different roles.

My advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is the old cliche of be passionate about what you’re doing. I believe it. That’s what will get you out of bed in the morning when you’re not really in the mood, and what will keep you going during the late nights. 

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