A Smart Idea

Al Schneider, Usedmall.Com

"A few years ago, my partner and I were in the business of buying and selling used computer equipment. Today, we do less legwork and help sell more kinds of business equipment over the Internet," explains Al Schneider, 57, vice president and general manager of usedmall.com in Englewood, New Jersey. Since March 1996, he and partner Harvey Berlent have been providing electronic classified listings to businesses wishing to buy and sell used and surplus equipment.

Schneider and Berlent were working together as equipment brokers when they realized that the burgeoning power of the Internet could revolutionize the way they did business. "Rather than limit ourselves by continuing to broker the acquisition of used computers, we decided to start a new company that would provide the means for businesses to buy and sell used or surplus equipment electronically, over the Internet," Schneider says. "This became a priority for us once it was apparent that the Internet was going to be an increasingly powerful medium for communicating with businesspeople around the globe. It was a natural progression for me, too, because I'd been working with computers in varying capacities for nearly 35 years."

Schneider believes that electronic classified ads are the wave of the future. Just as traditional newspapers charge those wishing to place classified ads in their pages, his company charges a fee to individuals and companies wishing to publish text detailing the type of equipment they wish to buy or sell. These electronic classifieds, which cost $29.95 per month for 100 words or less, are then accessed at their Web site (http://www.usedmall.com) by Internet users and businesses worldwide. Offerings are grouped into several categories, which include airplanes, trucks, personal computers, office equipment, furniture, and medical supplies.

"One thing that makes our electronic classified ads superior to newspaper classifieds," Schneider states, "is that they can be read by 30 million to 40 million Internet users located in many countries. Another is that our service is far more than just a flat bulletin board. It contains a database and has a search engine built right into it, which makes it easier to identify and locate the particular items that each user desires."

Schneider expects that the demand for his company's offerings will continue to grow in the coming years. "Last year was a time of general awareness about this new medium called the Internet, and 1997 is shaping up to be the year when businesses recognize this tool as a cost-effective way to conduct many of their business activities," he says. "I believe our business is situated in the right place at the right time with the ideal offering."

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This article was originally published in the June 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: A Smart Idea.

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