The story of Rukkola is very refreshing and it is the living proof that one can be successful without constantly thinking of ‘how do I get rich tomorrow’. The founding team at Rukkola has not re-invented the wheel and the concept itself is not revolutionary per se, but team members surely have a lot of fun, they do it for the joy of it and people seem to love it.
In other countries there are already a lot of opportunities and platforms to swap your used books and in exchange you receive another book from someone else. In Hungary there were a couple of attempts to establish something similar in the past, however for some reason these experiments did not work out so well.
Up until three enthusiastic persons from different parts of Hungary met in the cyberspace, became friends and found a way to offer a community based book swap platform to thousands of fellow citizens. The three founding members actually have full time jobs – Adrian Kovacs is a software developer, Peter Cziczlavicz is a web designer and Gabriella Kun is a writer and book publisher – and in their spare time they developed a concept (mostly via Skype meetings at night) that is very much appealing to a lot of locals.
Before going live with their site in July 2012, it took approximately 6 months to develop the actual concept and the site itself. Soon after opening the platform to the public, servers had to be exchanged, because the old ones could not handle the ever increasing traffic anymore. It seems Rukkola has tapped into something, that Hungarians were literally waiting for. After five months of operation, Rukkola has already more than nine thousand real Facebook fans, it has a few ten thousand registered users, millions of unique page views per month and thousands of books have been swapped with the help of this platform.
Rukkola’s underlying mission targets the ultimate human joy of giving, gifting and receiving as well as that of reading real books. Registered users get some points for every book they offer to the community and with these points users can go on a book hunt. If they are lucky they will find the book that they have been looking for among thousands of books offered by other users. The platform itself is free of charge, however every book offerer has to pay for the postal charges to send his book to another user. In exchange though, users will receive their chosen books free of charge, as well.
Besides the playful ‘book-swap’ method, the language used by Rukkola is sweet and funny at the same time. The name ‘Rukkola’ has nothing to do with the ruccola salad (although that is how ruccola is written in Hungarian), but Rukkola is rather a modification of a Hungarian slang verb ‘előrukkolni’ that approximately stands for ‘to hand out or to come up with something’. Rukkola established similar words and expressions across its entire platform to describe the swap process that characterize their business and make it unmistakably ‘Rukkola-ish’.
We can clearly say that the three founding members have managed to build up something in record time that big brands pay millions for: Rukkola talks to people’s hearts in a playful language, it is authentic and involves its users to be part of a virtual & real community. Users tell about their heart-warming stories e.g. how happy they were when they received a nicely wrapped book from another community member (nota bene from a stranger in real life) or there are some regional Rukkola sub-communities forming to meet other Rukkola members in person and to minimize postal charges for sending books and so on.
It is needless to say that everyone’s second question is ‘and how are you making money with this’. Rukkola is a bootstrap venture, completely financed by the founders and its current focus clearly is to build and foster an active community, where users and community members have fun in the cyberspace as well as in real life. But at second glance, Rukkola has a huge potential – and they are just starting to tap into opportunities. This is an excellent story and I am very excited to see this venture evolve.
Source of images: courtesy of Rukkola.