Kyle MacDonald, who last year used the internet to barter his way up from a red paperclip all the way up to a house of his own, delivered the afternoon keynote at DM Day at the Westin Bayshore on Thursday.
The easygoing entrepreneur illustrated how he managed to capture the elusive media buzz that marketers work long, hard hours to create, all by leveraging social networking to his advantage. He started with Craigslist, listing his paperclip in the barter section and amazingly got offers from all over North America. From there the trades escalated from smaller to larger items, all the way to the point where he met Alice Cooper, Corbin Bernsen, and travelled the country making deals with people he’d met over the net.
He also mixed in some mainstream media promotion. A story in the Associated Press also drove over a million hits a day to his site at the peak of his trading fame, but making an appearance on The Hour with George Stroumboulopoulos spun into another live Hour show from Yak, BC, escalating into a trade for a cube van, which turned into a recording contract, living arrangements, an appearance at an Alice Cooper concert where Kyle wielded a huge red paperclip on stage, and finally a house of his own in Saskatchewan.
Kyle said he used as much technology as possible, from cell phones to the Internet, to facilitate trades. But he stressed that what his year-long adventure boiled down to was shaking the hands of everyone he traded with and making personal relationships.