Who Are Your Customers?

Al Schneider, usedmall.com

"The research we did involved talking to industry experts and finding out whether or not they believed a concept like usedmall.com would work," says Al Schneider, 57, co-owner of Engle-wood, New Jersey-based usedmall.com. Since March 1996, he and partner Harvey Berlent have run an electronic classified-listings service geared to companies wishing to buy or sell used and surplus equipment.

Before launching usedmall.com, Schneider and Berlent worked within the technology industry in various capacities for three decades, acquiring a good deal of information about the Internet along the way. "During the latter part of that 30-year period, we ran a business together marketing used and surplus computer equipment. The original genesis for usedmall.com was the recognition that we had two choices--to take our existing business and overlay that on the Internet, or to start a new business that was primarily Internet-based," Schneider says. After conducting some market research, the pair chose the latter option.

"Our market research was targeted to a range of individuals. Because of our relationships in the technology industry, we talked to a good number of computer dealers and lessors. We also talked to people in the leasing industry who understood the buying and selling of capital equipment. Everyone we talked to saw the value in providing a database-driven Internet platform for electronic classified listings," Schneider says.

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This article was originally published in the August 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Who Are Your Customers?.

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