Member Feature: Amanda Fried From Jawa

Member Feature: Amanda Fried From Jawa

Member Feature
October 13, 2021

Amanda Fried (center), CEO of Jawa.

Every month we feature some of our Everything Marketplaces community members to help highlight their story, their journey building their marketplace, and get a glimpse at what's ahead.

In this member feature we highlight Amanda Fried, who's the CEO of Jawa. Jawa is a marketplace for gamers to buy & sell PC parts. Since Amanda joined Everything Marketplaces, she's built up an engaged community with thousands of PC enthusiasts, launched the Jawa marketplace, and it's quickly growing as a P2P marketplace.

So what’s your background briefly and what led to the idea for starting Jawa?

I grew up gaming, but it wasn’t until the pandemic that I setup my home office and built my own gaming PC. The experience was wild and eye opening. This was in every way from figuring out the specs I needed for my build, sourcing and buying the parts, to then learning how to assemble it all. I was probably on 30 different sites and forums piecing together all of the information I needed to do so. I knew there had to be a better way, so I started the Jawa community for enthusiasts to connect with others about PC building and gaming. We then launched the Jawa marketplace, which makes it easier to buy PC parts and builds in a trusted environment. 

Prior to Jawa, I worked with growth stage startups to Fortune 500 companies doing a mix of marketing, customer experience, and business development. My background is quite general, which works well for me as I'm building Jawa from the ground up and wearing many hats.

What were some of the first steps you took to build Jawa? What were some of the biggest challenges that you faced?

I actually started Jawa as a community on Discord first. Everyone in the PC and gaming world knows how hard it is to buy parts for a build, so this was the initial shared interest that brought everyone together. For those that might not be aware of how hard it is, the microchip supply shortage recently added to this and shopping for parts means having to sift through scalpers, getting ghosted while trying to make offers, losing out to bots, and trying not to get scammed when buying parts for a PC build. With this being such a known problem, it was relatively easy to start a community where we could all create a better experience together.

After we reached 1,000 Discord members, I then launched the Jawa marketplace and was happy to see a high conversion from our community to the website. Our members loved the Jawa community and now the marketplace. Everyone seems to see the clear value of the marketplace, but it can be a challenge to communicate our “no scalping” value proposition to those unfamiliar with Jawa or outside of our community. There's so much mistrust in this industry right now, so people are wary when they see claims like fair prices and no scalping. I'm finding that the best way to overcome this is by getting them talking to other Jawa members, who provide the testimonials and trust that might be needed.

You’ve mentioned that you're a community-driven marketplace. Can you share more about your approach with this and how it's core to your business?

If you don’t believe in community-driven marketplaces, please join a Discord server and see what it’s about! Communities can have immense business benefits because we're all connecting, sharing knowledge, and trust each other outside of just transacting. This makes it much easier for members to then turn to and trust a marketplace at the time they intend to buy or sell.

One way I've always fostered our community is by talking with our members every day on our Discord. This open line of communication significantly reduces the barrier to really knowing your users, finding out what they like, want, etc. Our community also reports bugs, give us product ideas, helps each other with price checks, and so much more. Our team doesn't have to jumpstart or drive conversations as much anymore, but it's now more about keeping an ear to our members, their needs, and how we can create more value as a marketplace.

We also recently hired an awesome Community Manager who's helping us ramp up things. He's already created a ticketing system for bugs, CX requests, an Upvoty for users to vote on product roadmap features, a bot that automatically posts new marketplace product listings to the Discord, and is also working on a more robust events calendar. With all of this said, we understand the importance of being a community-driven marketplace and are investing heavily in it.

How have you approached building Jawa as a vertical or niche marketplace?

We started Jawa for a very specific audience and knew that we wanted to go very deep and tailored with our product experience. Right after we launched though, it became clear there this was a much larger market than we had anticipated. In fact, less than 20% of PC gamers make up more than 80% of the >$35B PC hardware TAM. That just goes to show how fanatical and obsessed these gamers are and that niche does not equal small market size.

A few product categories also stood out early on as they were outperforming others. This is informing our supply strategy going forward, where we'll focus on having adequate listings in key categories and then expand from there.

It's probably helpful to mention that we also curate our supply. We do this with our team of PC hardware experts that review and vet every listing on the site. I also personally vet and talk to every seller. This is a huge value-add to our community, which as I mentioned before is tired of potentially being scalped or scammed.

What’s been the biggest learning so far?

The biggest learning for me has been the importance of overserving sellers. We’re seeing our early sellers bring so much value to Jawa in ways like bringing their customers to the site, referring friends, and even marketing Jawa on our behalf. Many P2P marketplaces are driven by a small group of power sellers and I am seeing that start to happen on Jawa. They emerged organically during our Beta, but now I know who to look for, how to focus on them, and also overserve them going forward as I focus on expanding supply.

What’s ahead for Jawa?

In the next few weeks we'll be doing our first collaboration with an influential PC builder, which is huge! I can’t wait to see how this is received and the impact it might have on our community and marketplace. I'm also beginning the fundraising process, which we're raising to help build supply, make key hires, and ultimately reach more PC builders so they can experience how incredible the Jawa community is. Stay tuned for more!

Connect with Amanda in the Everything Marketplaces community.