Americans Are Sitting on a Fortune of Old Unwanted Jewelry. This Entrepreneur Wants to Help You Sell It. The founder and CEO of Worthy hopes to bring transparency and profits to the second-hand jewelry marketplace.
In this ongoing series, we are sharing advice, tips and insights from real entrepreneurs who are out there doing business battle on a daily basis. (Answers have been edited and condensed for clarity.)
Who are you and what's your business?
My name is Ben de Kalo, and I am the founder and CEO of Worthy, a marketplace for pre-owned jewelry.
What inspired you to create Worthy?
When a person wants to sell their pre-owned jewelry, it is typically very difficult. Local jewelry stores or pawn shops usually lowball you, and eBay has trust issues for buyers, so people end up putting their jewelry in a drawer or in a bank vault. There is approximately $1 trillion worth of diamonds sitting in drawers across the country. Our households are, by far, the largest diamond mine in the world.
I understood that the diamond industry has no liquidity and no transparency, so I saw a huge market ready for disruption. I learned that people, mostly women, during life-changing events, such as a divorce or upon receiving an inheritance, need a safe and trusted solution for selling their jewelry.
How is Worthy different from other companies like it?
Worthy is the world's first consumer to business (C2B) online marketplace for selling pre-owned jewelry at true worth. Our auction model puts the consumer in the driver's seat and brings hundreds of industry buyers to the table each day to see what the latest U.S. household jewel "mine" has to offer.
What has been the biggest lesson you've learned?
The importance of learning about the people behind the diamond rings, earrings or bracelets. We started understanding our customers. It's all about people, and it's all about transparency and providing excellent, trusted service. We were very consistent in helping our sellers to move on. A divorcee wants to unlock the value of the ring, move on and start anew. We hear extraordinary stories of what she wants to do with the money. It's empowering to her and to all of us knowing that we are helping her.
What advice can you share about your fund-raising efforts?
We got off the ground by getting some first-tier investment, and later we raised a substantial amount of money. At each raise, we ended up raising more money than we planned, even though it meant more dilution. That was always a smart decision for us since usually, everything takes more time than what you plan. I also learned that it is okay to say no to investors you don't feel comfortable with, or you have reason to believe they are not a good match. These investors are going to be your partner for a long period of time, also during rainy days.Related: This Couple Built a Company That Stops Painting From Being a Pain in the Can
What does the word "entrepreneur" mean to you?
An entrepreneur must be a visionary that aims very high and believes that anything is possible. A good entrepreneur doesn't get a swollen head when things are going well, since they know it might not last. And an entrepreneur doesn't get depressed when things are going bad, since they know they can find a solution.