Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Interview with Ken Sully, CEO of iSoldIt
Ken Sully is CEO of iSold It, a Pasadena-based startup that has created a franchise business around the concept of selling items on eBay. The firm just raised $7.25M from Jacaranda Partners.
BK: Congratulations on your recent venture round. How do you plan on using your recent round of funding?
KS: The funding will be used to expand our franchise network, technology and support staff, and a large part will go towards consumer marketing to drive customers into our stores and continue to build our brand.
BK: For the readers who are not familiar with iSoldIt's business model, how does iSoldIt and your franchise work?
KS: The process can be described in 3 simple steps:
Step 1: Drop it Off.
Our customers can stop by any iSold It store with an item they'd like to sell. iSold It representatives will conduct some quick online research to help estimate its value, and then capture any key copy points the customer would like to make in the eBay listing. Next, our staff places the item in our inventory and hands the customer a receipt - shortly after, we get to work photographing and listing the customer's item on eBay.
Step 2: Watch the Action.
Once we've listed an item on eBay, we'll send the customer an email with a link to the auction, so they can watch all the action as it occurs.
Step 3: Collect Your Check.
After the item sells, iSold It collects payment and professionally ships the item to the winning bidder. Once the transaction is complete, iSold It sends the customer a check in the mail.
BK: What's the story behind iSoldIt, and how did the company come about?
KS: The concept for iSold It was created by Elise Wetzel, as she was helping to fundraise for a new playground at her children's school. Elise recognized that auctioning donated items on eBay could be a powerful fundraising tool, especially if there was a service that helped make it easy. From this small idea for a school benefit, came the foundation for iSold It -- providing an easy way for any person, business or organization to sell things online.
BK: Why are your customers willing to pay someone else to list their items on eBay, instead of doing it themselves?
KS: Like any retailer, iSold It makes a commission on the items we sell. This fee is used to cover the costs of photographing, listing, payment collection, customer service and packing and shipping. Once the item sells, iSold It deducts both our commission and eBay and payment processing fees before sending you a check.
BK: What is your reverse logistics program, and how does it help your customers?
KS: Our reverse logistics program is the process of controlling the flow of finished goods from the point of consumption to the point of origin in order to recapture value or proper disposal. iSold It is in a unique position to offer businesses 65% of the selling price if items by selling them on line, instead of $ .10 on the dollar through traditional liquidation channels.
The reverse logistics program is a huge opportunity: $60 billion liquidation and $100 billion returns per year. The biggest liquidators each control less than 1%.
BK: I see you were at another successful franchise-based business, Mail Boxes Etc--how did you decide to get involved with iSoldIt?
KS: I left Mail Boxes Etc and spent a few years in the DOT.COM world. After the bubble burst on the industry, I joined as CEO of another shipping and packing franchise -- Postal Connections. But I received a call from Rick Wetzel (husband of the founder, Elise Wetzel) who did an internet search for high flyer franchise executives who have been to the top of the mountain already and could quickly grasp and lead this new category "eBay drop off stores." In my opinion, the idea of a business model using brick and mortar connected to the Internet and eBay was the "Next Big Idea," so I joined when there were 3 employees and one franchise store open. In my first 18 months we have 800 stores sold and 170 stores open.
BK: Do you provide exclusive franchise territory, and where are you getting the most signups right now for franchises?
KS: Each Location receives a 2 mile radius as their exclusive territory during the term of the 10 year agreement. We are getting the most signups from CA, TX, FL, and New York.
BK: Thanks for the interview!