The Lightbank-backed online haggling site oBaz is getting a makeover today. The company is reinventing itself as a specialty deal site that focuses specifically on customers’ interests and lifestyles to deliver the most relevant deals.
Launched in August as something of a more democratic Groupon, oBaz (short for Online Bazaar) allows users to band together into groups of 25 or more to leverage their group buying power to haggle for a lower price on an item. While the crowdsourced angle of the daily deal site remains the same, the platform has refashioned itself around product discovery based on user interests.
The site is now organized into “Aisles” based on lifestyle. For example, current Aisles include Parents, Musicians, Chefs, Photographers, Young Professionals, Dog Lovers, Gamers, and more. Products are curated by the Aisle’s resident “expert,” who offers helpful tips and information, and users can vote on which deal they want next.
The Aisles also create an interesting new social angle, allowing users to post pictures and participate in discussions. Interestingly, not just anyone can join: oBaz says it selects users based on certain criteria to make sure they’re really passionate about the Aisle products they’re seeking. For example, photographers may be asked about their favorite lens while chefs may be asked about their favorite recipes. The company says that it only accepts 80% of Aisle applicants, which seems…counterintuitive, and yet brilliant.
“We put a lot of energy into sourcing unique products for each lifestyle and we want genuine hobbyists to participate,” CEO Brian Ficho explained in a statement.
Ficho tells me you can join as many Aisles as you want, and each Aisle posts new deals on the site every day. Like the products themselves, new Aisles are created through popular demand with no limit to the number that can be added to the site.
The Chicago-based company raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding from Lightbank this year.