CEO/Founder of WorthPoint, Inc., Weill Seippel was a special guest on eBay Radio. It decided to put the transcripts together from this episode because it was a great interview.
FYI: eBay Radio is an online radio show sponsored by eBay and hosted by Voice Marketing Radio.
There are two radio personalities as stars of the show: “Griff” aka Jim Griffith has been an eBay employee since the beginning of eBay as one of the first customer service reps. and Lee Meribal, President and CEO of Voice Marketing Inc.
Griff: To make the most of your item and your listing, you need to know not only what it is, but also perhaps what it’s worth, and there are tools for that. With us now is Will Seippel. He’s the CEO of WorthPoint, known on Ebay as Wills1n4. Will, what is WorthPoint exactly, for those in our audience who may never have heard of it? I doubt that, but there may be some. What does WorthPoint do?
Will: We’re getting bigger and bigger, Griff. We’re compiling information, as you said, that helps people identify what an antique or collectible item is and exactly what it’s worth. It’s a never-ending pursuit and question.
Lee: I went to your listings.
Will: You did?
Lee: You’ve got a lot of listings up there. Good grief.
Will: I sell a lot of stuff, Lee, and the portal is great.
Lee: Well, let me see. I found how many things? Lots of stuff. One of the things, Griff.
Lee: New, unused vintage Eastern Airlines bread plates. Six and a quarter inch, a set of four. Where did you find those, Will?
Will: Gosh, Lee. I’m out chasing, looking everywhere for stuff, and now it seems to find me instead of me having to go out and find stuff. Somebody actually came by our office and had a truckload of Eastern Airline china I bought.
Griff: Oh, wow.
Lee: You never know.
Griff: You never know.
Will: It starts finding you.
Griff: You like postcards.
Will: I love postcards. Just sold a bunch of them. It’s funny, Griff. The most expensive postcard I ever sold was $1,200, so there’s good money in postcards.
Lee: What was it?
Griff: Yeah. What was that postcard?
Will: It was a postcard sent from the Boxer Rebellionin China from a missionary through the Soviet Union to his church in Maine, and it was hand colored. Chinese postcards can be a really good deal.
Griff: Yes. They can be.
Lee: When we’re using WorthPoint for Ebay research, how far back does the sales history go?
Will: I think we go back over 10 years now, selectively. We keep certain things and discard certain things and have algorithms for that. I think it’s a good 10 years now, Lee. It’s hard to believe.
Lee: Do you have help? Do you have people help you list and stuff?
Griff: No. He does it all himself. When he’s not on the show with us or listing things he’s at home cataloging.
Lee: All right, all right.
Griff: Millions of items.
Lee: See, this is what I missed when you were gone.
Griff: Yeah. I missed it too, terribly.
Lee: This kind of putdown. You know, I mean, I missed this. God, I have no challenge when you’re not here.
Griff: Glutton for abuse. Sit down, woman. Stop asking questions.
Lee: Yeah, really. That works really well with me. That phrase, sit down, woman, works really well with me.
Will: I’m not going there, Lee. I’m not going there.
Griff: You’re probably better not.
Will: Back of the limo with you at Ebay party.
Lee: Well, actually, it was an Uber guy who did not know where he was going.
Lee: Remember that?
Will: I do.
Lee: But the gray area here is the Brooklyn Bowl was fairly new, I guess.
Will: It was a great party though you missed.
Lee: I know, really.
Will: But no, I have help. I’ve actually, and I didn’t realize how hard it was to train, but I have somebody that started for me listing, and she does a fantastic job. Sherry, my wife, does a fantastic job of shipping now.
Griff: That’s good.
Will: So, we’ve been able to get a team together and get a little bit of work done here.
Lee: Yeah, to have that many items up there.
Griff: You can’t do it alone.
Lee: You just about need some help.
Will: Sales are going great. I’m really excited with Ebay, and they’re doing a great job for me. I can’t complain.
Griff: So, you will agree with the following statement, and give it as an affirmation, that Ebay is a great place still for collectibles.
Will: Yeah. I mean, my sales are up 29%.
Griff: There you go. Because I got an email from someone …
Will: Grossed over $1,000 this month on Ebay.
Griff: I got an email from someone while I was away that said, “So, convince me that Ebay is still a place that you can sell antiques and collectibles.”
Will: Oh, gosh. I mean, that’s crazy. I’m doing great. Part of it is we’ve got to learn, and if there’s one thing I wish I could have, Griff, it’s like an automatic markdown, like [Indistinct].
Griff: Oh, yeah.
Will: You know, every month they lower their price 10%. If I could have one thing, that would be it.
Griff: I would love that.
Will: If I can manage my inventory better, and we’re working on it, we would do even better than we’re doing.
Griff: Kind of like Filene’s Basement used to do.
Griff: They marked everything down every week.
Lee: So, when you’re looking up research history for, let’s say a rare or an item that’s seldom sold on Ebay, that is a strength of WorthPoint.
Lee: Are the old descriptions there to help as well? How does that work?
Will: It is. A lot of times I’ll get help with my descriptions based on what I found on WorthPoint from past listings. It just saves me so much time with having to do my descriptions that I can go in and find out cumulative knowledge of what other people have learned. Even in the case of postcards, I have them sorted by country in a lot of cases, and I’ll go through and look up Jamaica postcards and look for the most expensive ones and see real quickly whether I have any that’s worth spending the time, and then go and get help from people’s past listings. It’s a great tool for that.
Lee: Where do you find your postcards, generally?
Will: I hit a motherload looking at Auction Zip when I was up in Maine a couple years ago and found that somebody had an auction that nobody wanted to go to on postcards.
Griff: You’re kidding?
Will: No. I was just sitting there and putting up an opening bid and winning box after box after box. The auctioneer was really mad, not at me, but at life.
Griff: That always works well.
Will: Yeah. I bought about 100,000 postcards that day.
Lee: Oh my.
Will: Spent a couple thousand dollars.
Griff: What a great find.
Lee: So, you say the ones from China sell well. What else?
Will: The photograph postcards, those are always, the real photo postcards are real popular.
Will: You can generally start it at $20 with those.
Lee: What do you mean photograph?
Griff: As opposed to an illustration, it’s actually a photograph of a place or a thing.
Lee: Oh. Okay.
Will: Those are really popular. People collect the private mailing cards that came out in the late 1800s. I’m not a great postcard historian, but somebody was telling me postcards go back actually pretty far into after the Civil War for advertising and things. The early private mailing cards are very collectible. They’re the pre-1907 back.
Lee: I still love the old deco-looking ones, and the ones from beaches and things. I love them, the old ones.
Will: Yeah. They’re cool.
Griff: People collect the ones that relate to or are connected to their history, the town they grew up in, the city, the school they went to, the amusement park they visited. Isn’t that the case?
Lee: Oh, yeah.
Will: I buy them from my hometown of Kennebunk.
Griff: Are you from Kennebunk?
Will: Yeah. Well, that’s where I consider home. I’ve lived up there for, gosh, about 30 years, 35 years.
Lee: Where are you originally from?
Will: Northwest Virginia. I’m a hillbilly.
Lee: Where in Virginia?
Will: That’s what you love about me, Lee.
Lee: Where in Virginia?
Will: A little town called Clifton, out near Manassas.
Lee: I was raised in Norfolk.
Will: I didn’t know that.
Lee: Oh, yeah.
Will: My parents moved out to Winchester, and so I was kind of a redneck from growing up in that area.
Lee: Can we touch on WorthPoint’s image recognition program?
Griff: Yeah, because that’s something …
Lee: How is that going for you? How is it progressing?
Will: It’s off to an okay start. We’re probably in a Walkman stage of ear-pods or listening. We have a search engine in the desktop, and we have a different one in an Apple application I believe is out there in beta. I’d say that 25-50% of the time it hits the mark, which isn’t good enough for me, Lee. What we’re doing, and you know the raise we’re about to come out with, essentially, we’ve written some technology that will wrap in about five search engines into one search. We found that some are better in color. If you look at the catalog we have of stuff now, with approaching a billion images, I think, Griff, I have hallmarks and pottery marks for everything in our site, if you can image that.
Griff: That’s pretty amazing.
Will: With all the images we’ve saved. So I probably have 10,000 Lacroix pottery marks, at least, in our WorthPoint database.
Will: We actually have people pulling those, and we found that some visual search engines do better with color. Some of them do better with ugly images and so on. And so, what we’re going to do is like a Kayak, where it will bring up different websites as it gives you the price of travel. We’re going to migrate our image recognition so that it will actually roll in about five different algorithms from different software companies to match your item.
Lee: So it got very complicated.
Will: Yeah. It’s not as easy. I’d say sometimes I tend to trivialize technology, and I’ve learned that’s a bad thing to do. The image recognition is way more complex than what Facebook is doing with faces, because you know you have a nose and two eyes and a mouth that you’re dealing with a face. The image recognition, I know one of the items I did for the Chicago Group it nailed it dead on. It doesn’t do that every time.
Lee: There is our music. We love it when you come on and we catch up with you, Will.
Griff: Thanks, Will. Continued success with your company, WorthPoint
Thanks for reading the transcripts from:
eBay Radio – Show 655 – Segment 5 – September 20, 2016.
If you would like to sit-back and listen, directly from eBay radio you can here it all here via the player: https://voicemarketingradio.com/ebay-radio-show-655-segment-5/