Licensed to List: the ‘Right Way’ to Build a Craigslist App

By Devon Glenn 

Craiglist finally has a mobile version of its online classified ad network that’s free, functional, and won’t be shut down in a few months.

The Craigslist app that Silicon Valley design studio Mokriya launched today may be unofficial, but it does have a license.  “We wanted to do it the right way,” said Mokriya CEO and founder Sunil Kanderi in a phone interview.

Not too long ago, Craigslist started sending cease and desist letters to companies that were building apps using the company’s data without permission. So Kanderi contacted Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster, who put him in touch with the company’s law firm to come up with a licensing agreement.

Mokriya’s portfolio includes an iOS app for Hipster and a Blackberry app for Path. When asked why he chose to build an app for an old-school website like Craigslist, Kanderi pointed to the classified ad service’s broad appeal (50 U.S. states, 700 cities, 70 countries, 50 billion page views per month) and the fact that he had successfully used Craigslist for “getting rid of stuff” after moving from a four-bedroom home to an apartment in 2009.

“The user experience was terrible,” Kanderi said of the available apps at the time, and when he checked again a few years later, they hadn’t improved. So the Mokriya team set out to rebuild Craigslist for iOS and Android from scratch.

Part of the problem with Craigslist was the sheer volume of categories, Kanderi said, from housing for rent to items for sale. Mokriya’s mobile version places the main categories in the navigation bar on the left, the locations on the right, and makes everything available through the search bar. All features are reachable in just a few clicks.

Another highlight is a mapping tool that shows the users available apartments for rent, cars for sale, and other listings based on their current location.

For landlords and sellers of stuff, the posting experience has been reduced to three screens, and includes the ability to build a listing based on pictures taken with a mobile phone.

So far, the feedback has been positive, Kanderi said. “We are very excited.”