Uniiverse wants to make it easier for people to make money doing what they love.
The startup released a Direct Payments feature today which sets up peer-to-peer payments for activities and services on a personal website or blog. A yoga teacher can sell Saturday classes in a park, or a food blogger can sell tickets to a cooking class. You can customize the date of the event, type of tickets, and pricing as well as send customized invites, manage bookings, and collect information about attendees.
Uniiverse says it connects people in the real world over shared experiences. The goal is to encourage people to engage with others while also providing people with a channel to make money doing what they love.
“Uniiverse was founded on the belief that human interactions are getting too virtual,” said cofounder and CEO Craig Follett to VentureBeat. “We want to remedy this by enabling people to discover unique things to do. Small businesses and individuals who offer any kind of activity or service can use Direct Payments to integrate payments forms and booking directly on their site or blog. Direct Payments decentralizes the sharing economy, by moving it beyond centralized marketplaces.”
The sharing economy has erupted over the past few years to connect people who need something to people who have it. Also referred to as “collaborative consumption,” the idea is to make the most of underused resources by offering them in an online marketplace. AirBnB changed how travel accommodations work by offering other people’s homes rather than hotels. Ridesharing companies like Zipcar, Lyft, and Sidecar are doing this with transportation.
These platforms are not only useful for consumers but also for the service providers who can use them to make (or subsidize) a living. Uniiverse’s Direct Payments helps people directly sell their services to consumers (without using a middleman or requiring the visitor to leave the site) by enabling credit card payments and peer-to-peer transactions. Follett said that while companies like Gumroad, Ribbon, and Shoplocket enable people to directly sell products online, no-one is doing this for services and events, which is where Uniiverse fits in.
The Toronto-based company launched in early 2012 and now has 11 employees. Its marketplace includes over 26,000 event organizers and service providers in over 400 cities around the world.
However, two-sided marketplaces are tough to build, and consumers are fickle. By entering the world of payments, Uniiverse is testing out another way to foster offline commerce (and ensure the company’s survival). It has no setup or monthly fees, though the company will take a small commission from the buyer at the time of the purchase. Uniiverse has been optimized for mobile and accepts all major credit cards.
Uniiverse has raised $1.25 million in funding from Real Ventures as well as angel investors.