How To Make $100 Million Selling Other Peoples Stuff On eBay
It's no secret--eBay has become tremendously popular, and strategically positioned right alongside the world-famous online auction site is eBay drop-off store iSold It LLC. Elise Wetzel and her husband, Rick, founded the Pasadena, California, business in December 2003 and started offering franchises just a few months later. They have already sold more than 800 units and expect 2006 gross sales to exceed $100 million. The numbers speak volumes; their story explains how they did it.
Elise was trying to raise money for her children's school by selling items on eBay when she was struck by what she calls "the big aha!" She had been buying on eBay for years, but soon realized that the process of selling an item was much more complex than buying. So she went in search of a business that would sell merchandise for her. When she came to a dead end, she knew she had stumbled on something big.
Selling other people's secondhand items for a fee is a golden idea with endless potential, but how this husband-and-wife team is managing the company's growth is what landed them on this year's Hot 100 list. Aware that the business could take off if given the chance, they knew when to step aside and pull in outside resources.
"We needed somebody who knew how to run this business at the speed it could run at," explains Rick, 47, who already had extensive franchising experience as the founder of fast-growing pretzel franchise Wetzel's Pretzels. "You have to set your ego aside. It was challenging to sit there and say, 'This is too big for me; we need a stronger team.'"
Rick singled out Ken Sully, former executive vice president of Mail Boxes Etc., for his impressive track record of building solid company infrastructures. Rick brought Sully onboard as iSold It's CEO in 2004. Thanks to this decision, the operation is running at top speed. A complex coding system for the stores is in place, and the build-out of each location is impressively standardized, enabling a store to be installed and set up in a mere 48 hours.
The company continues to grow strong with 3,000 franchise applications flooding in every month and recent international expansion to Australia, Canada, Ireland and the United Kingdom. The future promises limitless opportunities, and the Wetzels are ready for it. "We've created this brick-and-mortar interface to the internet," says Elise, 40. "E-commerce will continue to evolve, and I think our stores are in an excellent position to capitalize on that."
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