Will Seippel, CEO and founder of WorthPoint®, describes his company as “the Bloomberg for antiques, art and collectibles.” The four-year-old company, which graduated from the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) at Georgia Tech May 9, helps people determine the value and transaction history of their treasures. They can also seek expert advice from subject-matter experts and network with other collectors.
WorthPoint offers a database of transaction records on art, antiques and collectibles in a repository branded Worthopedia™. Founded in 2007, the company has quickly become the world’s largest and most comprehensive resource for this information. When Seippel launched WorthPoint, Worthopedia consisted of nearly two million items; today, it contains more than 80 million items. By the fourth quarter of 2011, it will include more than 100 million items.
“If you look at ancestry.com, their objective is to make the birth records of every person ever born available. We’re trying to do something similar with everything manmade,” Seippel said.
The process for WorthPoint’s taxonomy is laborious and technology-intensive. Beginning with purchased reference material, WorthPoint tags the information with data attributes and then catalogues it. In the future, Seippel plans to incorporate visual recognition into the database, enabling auctioneers and collectors to search by words and photographs.
According to Seippel, everyone collects something, and the numbers prove it. In 2010, there were 94 million active eBay users, more than 100 million worldwide collectors, 30,000 U.S. appraisers and 16,000 auctioneers worldwide. More than 500 million collectibles are sold on eBay each year, and auctioneers sell another 100 million items.
As a founder of a startup company with a seemingly daunting task, partnering with ATDC made perfect sense for WorthPoint, Seippel said. ATDC helped in a number of ways, including connecting WorthPoint to professionals who helped the company think through technology and business decisions and provided flexible office space.
Since becoming an ATDC member company in 2008, WorthPoint has achieved remarkable success. It also acquired GoAntiques™, the oldest antiques and collectibles web site, signed up 16,000 paid subscribers and exceeded $3 million in revenue, becoming cash flow positive. It was also ranked sixteenth on Lead411’s Technology 500 list, which recognized the company as one of the fastest-growing technology startups nationwide.
In January 2011, WorthPoint – which now has 20 employees – opened an office in Dublin, Ireland. Now the company is adding a sizeable European database to complement the North American database. Eventually, the WorthPoint Internet offering will expand through fully localized European-based web sites.
“WorthPoint, which originally started in Virginia, relocated to Atlanta due in large part to what ATDC has to offer startups. By working with ATDC, we were able to learn about funding strategies and gain exposure to venture capitalists,” noted Seippel, who has received $11.6 million in financing since starting the company. “We were also able to be part of a dynamic entrepreneurial community and have proximity to the keen minds at Georgia Tech. I would recommend ATDC to any technology startup company in Georgia.”
The Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) serves as the hub for technology entrepreneurship in Georgia. Founded in 1980, ATDC helps Georgia entrepreneurs launch and build successful technology companies. Through business incubation and acceleration services, ATDC has supported the creation of hundreds of high tech companies that have raised more than a billion dollars in outside financing. Headquartered in Atlanta’s Technology Square, ATDC members benefit from a close proximity to Georgia Tech and connections with other Georgia research universities.
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