BUSINESS

Your wildest fantasy, for sale online

SUSAN MOHAMMAD August 4 2008
BUSINESS

Your wildest fantasy, for sale online

SUSAN MOHAMMAD August 4 2008

Your wildest fantasy, for sale online

SUSAN MOHAMMAD

Would driving a Ferrari F430 Spider with a model in the front seat make your life complete? How about appearing in a soap opera or enjoying a dinner prepared just for you by a celebrity chef? Whatever your ultimate wish, a new site called Sweemo (short for sweet moments) can make it a reality.

Launched by 33-year-old British entrepreneur Jay Nguyen last month, the site is much like eBay, except it allows people to bid on experiences rather than things. It’s the place to go for such intangibles as a meeting with a star image consultant, a shopping trip to Milan or a week at a secluded island resort in Fiji. Users can also swap experiences or post suggestions for moments they’d like the chance to buy.

Nguyen, a former oil and gas engineer, launched the site with $800,000 in venture

capital funding. “So far the focus has been on getting businesses excited about the concept and thinking about products they can put on for Sweemo users,” he says.

His next step is to build traffic. Since launching a few weeks ago, there have been 8,000 hits on Sweemo, but Nguyen has set himself a lofty target of500,000 visits a month within the year. To reach that goal, he plans to use blogs and social networking sites to spread the word, and maximize his visibility on search engine sites (he’s already in talks with Lycos, he says). When his site is fully up and running it will earn revenue from two sources: a commission of 1.5 to five per cent on every successful bid, plus paid advertising.

Will Sweemo succeed? Tim Richardson, an e-commerce professor at the University of Toronto and Seneca College, says the prospective market is small. Still, the site might work if it consistently offers experiences no one else can. Nguyen could also carve out a niche by convincing corporations to use his site in their premiums and incentives programs for high-value clients. “But he’s gotta show traffic results early on,” Richardson says. “Investors want money back quickly, usually in months rather than years.”