As a teenager in Israel, Suzanne Wouk, CEO and Co-Hounder of Sellhound, spent her free time searching for secondhand treasures at thrift stores. On one of her searches, she purchased a bag of vintage women’s clothing for the equivalent of $1 and then sold it to another shop down the street for $100. For a sixteen-year-old, this was on par with winning the lottery. Wouk was hooked.
Over the years Wouk continued thrifting and reselling the items at a profit as a side gig, first through brick and mortar stores and eventually through one of the original online selling platforms, AuctionWeb. Today that platform is known as eBay. “The idea that you could sell to the whole world was enlightening,” recalls Wouk.
Selling to the whole world, however, is also a bit daunting, and Wouk soon found herself posting items for friends and family on eBay who found the ins and outs of selling online overwhelming. Buying online, however, was a simple process accessible to even the least tech-savvy individuals. Wouk wanted to make online selling as easy as buying, not just to help others make some extra income but to encourage people to change their overall behavior and relationship to stuff.
“When you donate to someplace like Goodwill,” explains Wouk, “they can only shelve 10% of those items. The rest goes to the dump.” In a society with a bad habit of over-consumption, this level of waste is a huge problem. Wouk saw that if we could break down the barriers to selling our stuff, we could reduce waste and create a culture that supports reuse.
Online Selling Simplified
Her first solution was an app called SnapPost that greatly simplified the selling process on eBay with photo recognition software. She built the first iteration over a weekend at TechRaising. Before the company was acquired, SnapPost users listed upwards of 30,000 items using the platform.
At a Santa Cruz Accelerates event in May of 2017, Wouk met five-time CEO Geoff Dillon. The two of them put their heads together and landed on an online selling platform, Sellhound. “Today it’s not only about eBay,” says Wouk. “We don’t want to be tied to one marketplace and we’re not trying to be a marketplace which is what makes us different. We celebrate all marketplaces.”
The first ever search comparison engine for secondhand marketplaces, Sellhound lets you search eBay, Amazon, Etsy, and dozens of other online marketplaces all from one place whether you’re buying or selling secondhand items. Dillon, now Sellhound’s COO and Co-Hounder, believes they’re filling that missing link of reducing waste at the grassroots level.
“Corporations can make big money now being identified as a brand that reuses and recycles,” Dillon explains. “That’s great that people will go patronize those brands, but what are we doing at the lower level? If we make reuse more mainstream it’s going to change the buying behavior among the general public and then you truly make a difference at the grassroots level.”
Building a Startup in Santa Cruz
Wouk and Dillon are both deeply committed to their Santa Cruz community and are adamant that they keep Sellhound on this side of the hill.
“I’ve done other hackathon events over the hill but at TechRaising and the Accelerator here in Santa Cruz, I felt a real difference in the community and the support,” says Wouk. “There’s a total difference here in terms of community and I didn’t feel judged being an older female which I did over the hill. If you weren’t 25 and a guy, they would ask, ‘What is mom doing here?’ Here, it was about the idea. There was no judgment, ageism, or sexism. I decided after those events, that whatever I do next, I’m going to fight hard to make it a Santa Cruz company.”
Sellhound will be launching the second iteration of their software this July. Sign up for their newsletter to get in line to be one of the first beta testers. Interested in investing? Contact Geoff at Geoff@SellHound.com.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Molly Ressler is a writer and content strategist based in Santa Cruz. Find more of her work at mollyressler.com.