Listia: The Company That Gets You What You Want For Free

"Times are tight, and so is your budget. After all your bills every month, it'd be nice to find a way to get the extra stuff you want without having to spend more. Lucky for you, there's Listia."

With those words, online trading shop Listia begins a site created off an idea that is so useful and beneficial for the consumer, it seems too good to be true. For those who aren't in the know, Listia is the website that allows people to sign in and create an account on which they can put their belongings up for auction in exchange for "credits" that can then be used to purchase items other users have listed.

People can essentially obtain any number of products (from an Xbox, to a size small shirt) without spending a dime. And, with the recent addition of a rewards store that allows consumers to use the credit they've earned on brand new items sold directly from companies, the site has successfully created a system where buyers literally buy for free.

“We’re creating a trade-in program for everything in your home,” co-founder and CEO Gee Chuang told Tech Crunch. “iPhone trade-in programs are really hot right now, but for us it’s like, ‘What about everything else?’”

It's a big ambition, but one that's backed by big funding, with the company announcing this week in Series A financing that it has raised $9 million in a round led by venture capital firm General Catalyst. This latest haul of investment adds to the $1.75 million that the company attracted in 2011.

Tech Crunch writer Eliza Brooke reported on Wednesday that Listia plans to use the funding to more actively engage in the mobile industry, hoping to build and improve its apps for both iOS and Android systems.

“When we launched [the apps] they were these companion utilities,” Chuang told Brooke. “Our users, when they were away from the computer, used apps. In the last few months we’ve launched different updates to the apps to get them to be very standalone.”

So, how exactly does Listia work? Very simply. Any person who signs up on Listia, after providing an email and creating a password (rudimentary stuff), receives 1,000 credits right off the bat with the opportunity of earning an additional 500 credits for going through tutorials. Once an account is created, users can take a picture and put up anything they own for auction and sell it to the highest bidder.

Everyone on the site uses Listia credits as the means of currency, meaning people bid with credits and "sell" for credits. Once credit is built up, it can be used to purchase other people's items, or users can go to the rewards store and purchase brand new items, such as a Canon 16 megapixel Powershot camera or even a $50 Amazon gift card.

Simply put, the possibilities for purchases, whether new or used, are virtually endless, but one constant remains no matter what section of the site is visited. It's just one word, but it is perhaps the most appealing aspect to any consumer and the one on which Listia's ultimate fame and success depends: free.

“We’ve become the marketplace to trade for free and declutter,” Chuang told Forbes staff writer Tomio Geron. “We’re the way for people to get value for all the stuff sitting around in their house.”

Watch Listia's tutorial video below.