Mark O’Hara

Founder at THRIFT

Since it was founded in 2017, award-winning THRIFT,  recognized as one of the most promising Rising Tech startups in North West England, has been trying to solve some of the biggest challenges that individuals and businesses face when selling second hand items online. With pricing being so dynamic, and transparency so poor. Our goal has always been to support a circular economy, using technology to create products that simplify the resale of items online.

As for my position, I’m the founder of THRIFT. We’re a UK-based tech startup that lets users know what any item is worth on the resale market. So, secondhand items, antiques, clothing, electronics, etc. – you name it. 

We tend to deal with various types of customers from charity retailers, antique dealers, software suppliers, and also individual sellers. So, individual eBay sellers, Depop sellers or Facebook sellers, that want to quickly work out what an item is worth and on which platform to sell it on. 

Our goal is ultimately to make the second hand market more transparent for people so that more people can engage, buy and sell on the secondhand market. But to do that it’s still quite difficult, with many companies it’s very hard to get a transparent view for a particular product. So, public web data for us is a huge, huge thing.

And cleaning that data is just as important. Collecting public web data and preparing it for analysis in-house is not easy.

So for us, if we didn’t have a reliable data provider that simplified the hard work of collecting, preparing and providing all of that public web data for us, it would be nigh on impossible to show transparency for the second-hand and resale market. 

While we are just one use case, the need for data is continuing to grow. Data collection is going to continue to grow. 

We collect public web data in order to have the ability to make sectors more transparent for consumers. That’s ultimately why its use is so important to us.

It is important that consumers have transparency. Obviously, you can collect public web data for various different types of sectors and not just consumer goods. But it is about giving visibility to end users, and you can only do that through mass public data collection. As long as that public data collection is on the responsible side – trustworthy, fair, clear and transparent – it can only really serve to benefit people.

Regarding our internal methodology for choosing a web data provider, as a tech start up, in the approximate concept stage, we had no algorithms or anything built. It was really important for us that we partnered with the right public web data provider, one that was trustworthy and who would lead us back to water if we were ever to run astray. 

We chose Bright Data because of its trustworthiness and because ultimately our goals are quite similar. It’s important to choose the right web data provider. There are many out there but there are not many that practice such high compliance-driven standards.  

And I think when you’re trying to bring transparency to a particular market, you need a lot of public web data. And for us, Bright Data has been the right partner ever since we started working with them – 18 months ago.

We collect the public web data given to us by Bright Data for a particular search term. And then our algorithms clean all that data, present it to the users in a really simple, easy way, so that they can make a decision of ‘how much is this iPhone 8 worth on eBay, Facebook, Amazon or Depop?’

By partnering with Bright Data, we essentially get an out of the box opportunity for collecting public web data instead of building our own technical team. That allows us to focus on what we do best, which are the algorithms that clean all the data and the data itself. And that works really well for us. 

Our customers want to know, for example, how much an iPhone is worth on all marketplaces. So, we use Data Collectors for public sites such as eBay, Depop, Facebook and others. 

In terms of setup, the Data Collector is really simple. We’ve got an account manager that’s been brilliant and we’ve challenged Bright Data to create new data collectors that they didn’t have previously. It was a bit more technically challenging, and it’s going really well.

Depop was one. We knew that our customers wanted public data across Depop, and therefore, we challenged Bright Data and the teams did successfully rise to the challenge. 

We now have many data collectors, where Bright Data collects all of that massive amount of public web data that comes through to our system, and then our system cleans all that data really nicely, and makes it really presentable for the end user.

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Our experience with Bright Data has been very good. It’s great that we have somebody we can actually talk to directly. They are very responsive, informative and fast.
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