Kijiji vs Facebook – The Sale of a MacBook

I recently bought a new Apple MacBook Pro and that meant I was in the market to sell my older MacBook. I decided to use the opportunity to see how the two marketplaces, Kijiji and Facebook, do against each other. You should know I worked at Kijiji and have many good friends at Kijiji but I am going to be impartial.

First step was listing the laptop.

Here is how the FB posting screen looked like:

Facebook marketplace
Facebook marketplace posting form.

The facebook form was very short relative to the Kijiji form which was a longer and more detailed form.

The Kijiji form first asked for the Ad Title.

Kijiji Posting First Screen
Kijiji Posting First Screen

Once I put in the ad title I had to pick the category. In my case Kijiji guessed the category and I was confirming so it was just a click.

Kijiji Category Picker
Kijiji Category Picker

Next up was another screen that took in more details about the item

Kijiji wants more details
Kijiji wants more details

As you can see above Kijiji wants you to confirm you are selling an item and not looking to buy; in my opinion this is duplicative. The price I want to charge for my laptop was asked at this point. Kijiji also offers other options like ‘Free’, ‘Please Contact’, and ‘Swap/Trade’.

The brand and screen size are asked. This is customized to the posting. Since it knows I am selling a laptop the screen size and brand matter. For other things you might see other questions.

I was also asked if I was the owner posting the item or a business. This matters to Kijiji because for businesses they have additional tools and services.

The ad title is shown again with what you entered earlier pre-populated but this time there is an opportunity to add an URGENT tag to your ad.

Features on Kijiji

Kijiji offers posters many features that are designed to increase the likelihood of your item for sale being seen by buyers.

Features available on Kijiji (Click on image to see larger image)

In the image above there are five features being offered. The prices of the features vary by the value they deliver. These features do work in many instances but are not guaranteed to work. Some are quite pricey.

The Homepage Gallery feature is the most expensive listed above. This features puts your product on the front page of Kijiji but don’t expect it to be there every time. Your ad will be in a mix of ads that are shown on the front page in a specific area, at the top of the front page. It is very valuable real estate given the massive numbers of people who visit Kijiji every day.

My advice on this is use features if your listing does not do well. You can buy features after you post your ad.  Kijiji will show you how many times your ad was seen and continue to try and help you optimize to sell your product.

Waiting for responses.

First Kijiji response:

I received my first Kijiji response within 10 minutes of posting. This first respondent agreed on a deal and requested I take down my listing. The person feared I would sell to someone else in the time it would take for us to meet.

I proposed meeting him the next day and we agreed to meet at a Tim Horton’s that is near where I live. Side tip – never meet anyone at home, it is dangerous.  I promised the person that I would hold the machine for them.

I received in total 7 messages. All were within 24 hours and 5 were within 4 hours of posting the ad.

First Facebook response:

Facebook responses took a little longer to come in. The first response was about 5 hours after I posted my ad. I really did not like that the responses were messages into my Messenger and mixed with my personal friend messages. Given the Kijiji response came in minutes after I posed I did not make a deal with any facebook buyers.


I didn’t think about this but in Kijiji’s mobile app there is guidance to utilize PayPal. This suggestion is to avoid handling large amounts of cash. Again Kijiji is looking out for your safety.


In my experience Kijiji is still the dominant marketplace. The quick response rate was a big value proposition. The messaging system was also very good but I think there is opportunity for additional features when it comes to multiple responses.

Facebook’s advantage is the very quick form. Within seconds you can have your product on the marketplace. However I didn’t like the responses going into my personal messages list. The response rate was not bad even though it took a bit longer to start getting responses.

The weakness Kijiji has is the longer form experience when posting the items. This however may be that the data they do get from you in the longer form is used to then target your item better.

Both Kijiji and Facebook are providing a valuable service. Kijiji wins this round for me but I will keep an eye on both and share my experiences in the future too.

Password security tip to free you from crazy characters

Many years ago I wrote a blog post on how you should manage your passwords(read it here) and have good password security.  It seems it is time to update it a bit.

An article published by the WSJ goes into details of the man who came up with the idea that randomly generated passwords should be the way to go. Gizmodo did a good job of summarizing the article since the article on WSJ is behind a paywall.

Essentially the gist of the news is that the person behind us being encouraged and forced to use random passwords that are have characters, symbols and letters really had no expertise to give the advice. On top of the fact he had no expertise the whole idea actually was not great.

The suggested solution is to pick phrases that you do remember.

Simple math shows that a shorter password with wacky characters is much easier to crack than a long string of easy-to-remember words.

The Gizmodo article goes on to explain some of the other regrets that have come about related to tech and the internet. It does however suggest that you use long phrases of easy to remember words. Here is a link that can help you create ‘Paraphrases that you can memorize but that even the NSA can’t guess’ …although I find it hard to believe it is still good to practice good security techniques to protect yourself and your privacy.

xkcd has a password generator available to you as well.

Podcasts for startups and entrepreneurs

Historically I’ve never really been a fan of podcasts. Recently though I discovered a few podcasts that I’ve really enjoyed learning from. I decided to create a podcasts for startups list.

In October 2015 I began a journey into the startup world by co-founding a startup called Zensurance, an insurtech focused on providing small and medium sized businesses with insurance advice, products and self-serve tools. In the year since launching we have learned a lot and made adjustments. As any entrepreneur will tell you it is important to listen to what the market is telling you. What’s even more important is to learn from other peoples mistakes. That’s why I find these podcasts valuable. I find lessons in them in addition to inspiration.

Here are the podcasts I have found to be quite helpful in giving me perspective and that help keep me sane.

  • How I Built This by NPR – ‘How I Built This is a podcast about innovators, entrepreneurs, and idealists, and the stories behind the movements they built.’
  • This Week in Startups – Jason Calacanis hosts this show and the variety of information is really amazing and valuable.
  • SaasStr – All things SaaS
  • StartUp by Gimlet – ‘StartUp is a podcast about what it’s really like to get a business off the ground’
  • a16z  – A podcast by the a leading VC firm in Silicon Valley
  • GPS – World affairs can have an impact on the business world

Finally before I let you go I have to recommend the podcast app that I use. I believe in promoting good products and Breaker is by far the very best podcast app I have used. If you do use Breaker app feel free to follow me on there – username @SultanSpeaks.

Lessons learned observing John Chambers

On Wednesday May 13th 2015, Cisco reported quarterly earnings. The numbers were overshadowed by the fact that it would be Chambers’s last conference call.

John Chambers has led Cisco since 1995 and under his leadership Cisco grew to become an internet giant. I don’t want to bore you with numbers and I’m not here to write about how well the company has done financially with him at the helm; a fact that is undisputable. What I do want to share is my experience working at Cisco.

Early in ones career you can benefit tremendously from good managers and leaders from whom you will learn. It’s even better when they actively take a role in developing you. I didn’t have that proactive leader developing me but I did  have a thirst for learning and wanting to become a leader in the future. I listened in on as much as I could. I was on all the conference calls, I watched and read all internal communication by Chambers. I did everything I could to capture as much as possible from his actions.

Here are three lessons that I took away from John Chambers.


While I worked at Cisco if there was one thing I was certain of it was that the company operated with a big emphasis on integrity. This aspect of the culture was on our badges and applied to everything from managing people to deciding on technology. Why it worked was because Chambers himself lived according to those values.

I vividly remember the back options dating issues that came up and it was mainly tech companies, including Apple, that were in the spotlight. When it came up I remember thinking to myself if Cisco would be one of the guilty companies. It took me a minute before I was confident it would be the case. At a quarterly press conference; Chambers was asked about it and it was a complete non-issue. He very confidently said that at Cisco that was not happening. That was the end of it for them. I was not at all surprised. Integrity is a big part of why John Chambers has been a successful leader.

Treat people like you want to be treated

One of the hardest experiences to live through is a workforce reduction. I was at Cisco when they had to resort to layoffs at a difficult time in 2001. I was safe because I was a coop student, but it was still difficult to see people I worked with be affected. However, it was made easier by Cisco’s market leading severance packages. It was great for us to know that our colleagues would have six months of severance to help them with the transition. In addition to the six months of severance, there were other services provided to help.

It was clearly not one of John Chambers’s favourite periods, but he did not shy away from communicating with the company. He spoke of the challenges and the fact that he made sure that everyone affected would be treated as he would want to be treated. It was very clear to us watching him that he was upset about what was happening and that he was doing what he could to make it easier for those affected.

The result was one I won’t forget. One of the folks on my team was saying his goodbyes as he walked out and he expressed his appreciation for the company and that he would gladly come back in a heartbeat. At that moment to still express your appreciation for a company is not common.*

Long term matters more than short term

It is common sense to manage a company for the long term rather than the quarter. It just doesn’t seem to happen often enough. Pressure to meet quarterly earnings expectations can cloud judgement and a lack of long-term vision can be very harmful.

Cisco went through the challenges of the dot-com bubble bursting but focus on long-term performance helped Cisco perform relatively well compared to peers like Nortel and Lucent. One of the best examples of this was when the layoffs were happening Cisco made sure that all the pain was done in one round. Nortel and Lucent went through multiple rounds of layoffs and moral was surely low as uncertainty reigned.

Cisco’s actions along helped it take the pain in one shot and recover to focus on delivering for the long term. In combination with treating employees who were affected well the company made sure moral recovered quickly enough to steady the ship.

Although I have not been at Cisco for many years now I still keep up with the company and enjoy hearing good news about the company. I may not have stayed for very long but I learned a lot from being there and it was thanks to the values that John Chambers encouraged. It will be weird to see another face represent Cisco. It will be difficult to replace Chambers’s southern charm but I am sure like he did with Cisco he has now picked a great leader for the next phase of Cisco’s life.

*I am unaware of how things have changed since then. I do know there has been restructuring occasionally, but I do not know how those were managed.

Lufthansa gets it right

I’ve been an aviation enthusiast since I was a kid. These days I don’t only love planes but I’m fascinated by operations and the customer experience. Every time I travel I put on my consultant hat and analyse each step of the experience.

It is a tough industry to make money in. Nearly ever airline in the western hemisphere has faced serious challenges in the past decade. It has become quite difficult to differentiate and competition seems to be primarily on price. I admit I don’t have much loyalty to any airline and nearly always base my decision on price. Having said that I do appreciate stress free flying.

One of the most stressful parts of flying is boarding the plane. It is stressful because it is generally very chaotic and very badly managed by the ground staff. That is precisely why I was pleasantly surprised recently when I traveled on Lufthansa out of Toronto. For the very first time I witnessed airline ground staff actively trying to organize passengers at the gate based on their seat assignments.

I fly intercontinental at least twice a year and every time my frustration piles up at boarding time and it isn’t at the other passengers. It’s at the management of gate operations(Read previous post on A380, Etihad and Turkish Airlines) that I found the biggest opportunity for improvement.

Lufthansa was proactive at the gate in Toronto. They went around asking people around the gate if they were flying on their airline and proceeded to direct customers to the line that they should be in based on their seat assignment. This was done before any announcement was made that boarding was to start. What it did was to help avoid the rush of people towards the gate at the first announcement. That rush usually creates a massive bottle neck and inconveniences everyone. It also ruins the boarding system the airlines wishes to implement. The implementation wasn’t perfect given late comers to the gate would just walk up and try and board not knowing which group was boarding. However the attempt made the boarding process less painful. This only happened in Toronto and no where else on the journey.

I hope more airlines look at this part of the journey and improve it. Ultimately technology will help resolve this issue along with better airport and gate design.


Values Based Leadership

An hour long video that is worth the hour you are giving up. Professor Kraemer of the Kellogg School of Management speaks about Values Based Leadership.

Is asking for “big” ideas killing your innovation engine?

I have always considered myself to be an innovative thinker. When in the 1990’s I first experienced the World Wide Web on an xterm with a Mosaic browser my curiosity got me into web development. Ever since then I’ve been kept a close eye on innovation and creative attempts. Everyone IS creative. However the biggest threat to creativity is a lack of confidence (Watch IDEO’s David Kelley TED talk).

Over the past few years “innovation” has become a catch word. Everyone is trying to do it and everything they do they call innovation. It’s great that people want to be innovative but I wonder if the execution is flawed.

How so? Well when I see ‘Big’ idea being asked for a few questions pop up in my head.

  • What is a big idea?
  • Who decides if an idea is a big idea?
  • Does it take a “BIG” idea to have a innovative product?

My gut feeling is that asking for a “BIG” idea might actually be hurting you. Just ask for ideas. People in general don’t give themselves enough credit and therefore you might be missing out because you ask for “BIG” ideas.


Heard about the patent law suit against Google amongst others? The Rockstar Consortium, backed by Microsoft and Apple amongst others, sued a number of companies, including Google, for patent infringement. Yet again patents are back in the limelight. This isn’t something new. Patent lawsuits have become big debate int he United States. Some argue patents are hampering innovation and there are those who argue patents encourage innovation. Regardless of the side you are on it is clear that currently patents have become more and more important in business and especially in the hi-tech industry.

Top 10 Companies Issued Patents in 2012
Top 10 Companies Issued Patents in 2012

The emphasis on patent filings has been increasing for the past decade. While some companies have always had patent filling as part of their culture others have had to work hard to promote patent thinking amongst employees. At a high level the main actions can be identified as Communicate, Educate, Motivate and Reward. However, each of these stages as within it many different activities and all have to be considered as a part of a whole system. This system also has to be supported by tools that enable successful implementation and achievement of the goals.

No single way is going to succeed every time. Each organization has its own unique intricacies and culture. What is the definitely applicable to all organizations is that protecting your intellectual property and creating intellectual property in general have become both an offensive and defensive business tool.

Must have Apps!

I recently became the owner of a 4th generation iPad. I wasn’t sure how useful it would be as anything other than a consumption device. I have been pleasantly surprised. The surprises clearly have been app driven. To that point I decided to share with you the apps that I believe are must have, and the apps that are useful to have. [Note: Clicking on the icon will take you to the Apple page from where you can download the app]

Being Connected & Social


Hootsuite – A great app that helps you easily manage all your social media services. A great set of capabilities for teams that work together on social media and more. Homepage:




LinkedIN – a constantly improving app by the folks at LinkedIN that helps you not only keep in touch with your network but see what news and information is being read by your network. The app has improved a lot recently.


Utilizing the Cloud

dpDropbox – this appl helps you manage all your files in the cloud and therefore across a variety of devices. Many apps have seamless integration with Dropbox.



Note taking

Notability and GoodNotes both are note taking apps. I use both of them and can’t decide if one is better than the other. I use Notability for note taking on existing documents and GoodNotes more like a notebook where I make my own notes.




Kindle App

The Amazon Kindle app clearly is a must if you have been using Kindle as an e-Reader. This is totally a personal preference. Other e-Readers have apps too.



Startup Grind 2013 Clayton Christensen Interview w/ Mark Suster

A conversation worth watching