Jan 20 2011
“Nothing’s free in this world,” I’ve been told many times. That’s because people have an agenda. A free leaf blower from a neighbor leads to persistent cat-sitting favors from said neighbor. A free ticket to a baseball game is still gonna cost you $15 for a beer, $10 for nachos, and 12 hours of indigestion. And don’t get me started on free love (I was young, idealistic, and too trusting, and I’ll leave it at that.)
Perhaps nothing is free, but it still doesn’t stop people from getting stoked about getting free stuff. Nor should it. Which is why Freefu is cool. It’s a site that’s dangerously simple: it allows you to find free stuff – products, services, what have you – in your area.
I took it for a test drive. The process is three-fold: first, select a location; second, choose a date range; and third, describe what you’re looking for (e.g. entertainment, food and drink, services, employment, stuff.) Freefu is now primarily based in Florida, so I ran a search for free stuff – all categories – in the Naples area across the next week. I found a bunch: Farmers Markets, 2-for-1 lunch deals, and free home remodel evaluations. I clicked on the latter and was taken to what was more or less an description from the contractor who posted it. I got their number, address, and was told a free evaluation was on the table until July of 2011. Not bad. And for businesses and individuals alike, you’re encouraged to submit your offer.
Pretty quickly, one can see a lot of potential here: the platform is highly scalable for all locations and can allow for precise, localized searches. For example, you can search by city to find cool free entertainment options; no other platform I’m aware of allows you to do that. In other words, Freefu can be a boon to consumers looking for free stuff. And naturally, as the aforementioned example shows, if you’re a business, it’s a great way for you to get your foot in the door.
Now, even if we agree that free stuff is cool, there are still some problems with it, in theory – problems that Freefu adroitly addresses. They are as follows:
– “The Hail Effect”: Free stuff is like, say, hail. It occurs in nature, you kinda want it – because its rare and interesting. You know it’s out there, but only when it’s hitting you on the head, clamoring for your attention. (Marketers are good at this.) As such, people rarely proactively seek out free stuff; they’re much more reactive. Freefu changes this equation and puts the ball in the consumer’s court. Which brings me to my next theory…
– “Free Wheat vs. Free Chaff” (or “Free Signal-to-Free Noise”) Even if you find a platform or Web site that offers stuff – free and otherwise – presciently because of this, it’s hard to get to the good free stuff. Take CraigsList for example. Heck of a site. But when you go there, it’s nearly impossible to get any of the free stuff. You can go to the “For Sale” section and search by price, but it’s a pain, and it can take time. Again, Freefu takes care of this problem: tons of free stuff immediately at your fingertips.
Which brings me back to the whole “nothing’s free” idea. Is nothing really free? I’m still not sure, and as any of my loyal readers know, when life hands us vexing philosophical or metaphysical puzzles, I tend to turn to the sages: Shakespeare, Plato, Alice Cooper. For, as Mr. Cooper so eloquently states:Sign upon the dotted line I’ll be yours and you’ll be mine Nothing’s free Eventually Nothing’s free
Pretty deep stuff, but honestly, it doesn’t resonate. Because Freefu makes me questions Alice’s assumptions. I mean, what would Alice say when faced with Freefu’s model – a user-friendly platform allowing individuals and businesses alike to post and search for free stuff, by region? What if, when it comes to free stuff, there really is no catch? And because of that, what if, for once, Alice’s teachings and instruction weren’t applicable in today’s modern age?
And, most importantly, why does he have a snake in his mouth?