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Today I Learned: About Simbi

I recently signed up to a new(ish) platform called Simbi. What is Simbi? As far as I've gathered from my two days of use, it's a place for people to trade their valuable time doing something they love, in return for others doing the same. According to Simbi, this is why you should join:

Anyone willing to provide a useful skill or service is welcome on Simbi. You could provide a service that you currently do for a living, or something you do as a hobby. In other words, you just have to be good at it. You don’t have to have a Ph.D. in developmental psychology to babysit, but we do expect you to have experience handling children.

How it works

If I can distill Simbi in a single paragraph, it seems the foundation for the Simbi economy is to trade time for time. Offer your products/services to earn Simbi, and search for the products/services that are of benefit to you. You can offer a tangible product like a piece of art, or something as silly as telling a joke or tell a story based on your background. For someone like me, I can offer my skills as a web developer and design enthusiast. To get a sizeable start to your pool of simbi (in lowercase form, simbi refers to the platform's type of currency), you can go through their on-boarding and referral mechanisms such as syncing your social media accounts, sharing your Simbi profile/services on Facebook, and so on.

A brief background about the company running Simbi

Run by CEO and Founder Kjiersten Erickson, her five-man team (now 11 man team according to their team page) runs Simbi funded by several investors for $1.2m. The technology stack appears to be built on Ruby on Rails with several social media integrations (Definitely sounds like my wheelehouse). According to Tech Crunch, the company is not yet generating revenue, which does raise some questions as to how future revenue models may affect the value of their simbi currency. Although at this point, the value of simbi appears to be wildly different between its users, so it may not be as problematic as I had initially thought before signing up.

Source: Tech Crunch

My experience with Simbi

When I signed up to Simbi, I found two of my Facebook friends already signed up to the platform. One seems to be an active user. We traded recommendations and ended up chatting about the platform for a while. So far, Simbi plays very much like a video game. Unfortunately, when that happens, people tend to approach something that plays like a game like, well, a game. Meaning that there will be people attempting to exploit the system to get on top. This exploitation was quite evident in the leaderboards.

There appears to be a select bunch of users that trade each others' services between themselves quite frequently. It seems to me if this happens frequently enough, they will have a disproportionate ranking. As a user, this doesn't bother me since I have no interest ever topping the charts. Unfortunately, this exploitation seems to skew the system to make these users rank higher in the matchmaking. As a result, my matches are riddled with services that offer little value (or little value outside of the Simbi bubble).

That all being said, I have a great time browsing the products and services, as well as playing the matchmaking game. I've even gotten in contact with someone inquiring about learning how to make linoleum stamps. There is a lot to choose from, and I can't wait to find my favorite Simbi users.

Additionally, I am already thinking of a lot of ideas for web integrations if Simbi ever makes a public web API available. I thought it would be an interesting idea to create a website with a curated list for products and services on Simbi.

Unexpected Entertainment

There is a lot of weird and quirky stuff on this platform. I found myself spending a lot of time sifting through the matchmaking system and browsing services because of the oddity of many of the services available. Here are a few of my favorites:

• This woman will pretend to be your girlfriend via texts so that your friends will believe your lies about having one

• This person will determine whether or not you're an indigo child based on the qualifications of being an indigo child themselves.

• This man will help you get the girl you want based on the qualifications of having dated models and adult actresses. There doesn't appear to be any mention of success with women who have a great personality, superior intellect, or any profession than acting/modeling.

Lots of useful products and services, too!

I've found some interesting things offered by several users as well. I'm a sucker for art, so what I'm about to list is very much to that tune.

• This Simbi user offers carved linoleum stamps. They are randomly chosen for you, but based on their transaction history, it looks quite likely that custom stamps can be made.

• This user offers an array of graphic design and artistic services. I am definitely going to be hitting this guy up when I have spare simbi and a large workload on my personal projects.

• I am totally biased when I say this, but my friend Maya Pozzolo has some wicked bookbinding skills. I am currently working on a project in one of my sketchbooks, and I will definitely be hitting her up for when I want to get the sketchbook re-bound.

Where to go from here

So far, I think the idea is a wonderful concept. Not only does it seem to be a place for exchanging things of value, but a way to be social. In this sense, I believe Simbi could very much be considered a social platform. I hope to be exchanging my services soon, and will update this post with my experience when that happens.