(Women on Top in Tech is a series about Women Founders, CEOs, and Leaders in technology. It aims to amplify and bring to the fore diversity in leadership in technology.)
Suzanne Wouk is the CEO and co-founder of SellHound. She has long been involved in the reselling space, as she navigated eBay when it was a little-known site called AuctionWeb. She has built two companies, leading teams of engineers, contractors, marketers, and strategists to deliver innovative technology solutions that break down online selling barriers, with the ultimate goal of solving the problem of stuff.
What makes you do what you do?
Since my teens, I have thought about the story of stuff: where it comes from, how we treat it, and how we dispose of it. While pursuing a degree at UCLA as well as working as an actor and screenwriter in Hollywood, I spent my spare time urban picking at thrift stores and reselling items at a local antique mall. It was the late 90’s and I also started selling stuff on a little website called AuctionWeb. AuctionWeb later changed its name to eBay and I have now been selling on eBay for over 20 years!
Selling used stuff online is an important way to give old stuff a new life without throwing it away. My ethos is to recycle, re-use or re-sell whenever we can in order to be as responsible as possible with the resources we have. Reselling items is also commercially a very hot industry as new second-hand marketplaces pop up continuously and are receiving billions in funding (think Poshmark, Letgo, Facebook Marketplace etc.)
How did you rise in the industry you are in?
I’ve had lots of ideas about how to improve selling online. I attended The Founder’s Institute to incubate my idea and In 2012 I founded SnapPost, an eBay selling app where we successfully listed 30,000 items for sellers and enjoyed a rabidly enthusiastic user base. SnapPost was acquired and the entity that acquired it eventually shut it down. I have since taken my idea of SnapPost and added lots of technology in order for it to scale. My new company SellHound recently acquired back all the SnapPost assets. I and my team are now finally building the exact product needed by online resellers today.
Why did you take on this role/start this startup especially since this is perhaps a stretch or challenge for you (or viewed as one since you are not the usual leadership demographics)?
I saw a big need for smart technology to help us deal with all the stuff we have surrounded ourselves with. We are great at consuming and buying things but not at getting rid of things. We hang on to unwanted stuff because we know that there is value to it, and figure out that one day we might sell it, but selling secondhand is tedious, time-consuming and hard. There are hundreds of marketplaces to sell on and each marketplace has their own terms and conditions. I realized that what was missing was an aggregator for all of these marketplaces. A place for resellers like Orbitz or Kayak is for travelers. We are not a marketplace, but an aggregator of all marketplaces!
SellHound aims to be the seller’s best friend! We are the FIRST one-stop shop for folks who sell pre-owned and used items online using platforms like eBay, Amazon, Poshmark, and Mercari.
As a team consisting of resellers ourselves, we’re building the unique technology that we have always needed to save time and money in our reselling businesses. We also want to make it super simple for the average Jane or Joe to start selling and make money on their stuff! We aim to be on the cutting edge of advancing the circular economy, decreasing waste and solving the problem of stuff!
Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industries or did you look for
one or how did that work?
In terms of ideas around the Circular Economy, I have been inspired by sustainability advocates and thinkers like Gunter Pauli the author of the Blue Economy and social entrepreneurs and business leaders like Nobel Prize winner Dr. Muhammad Yunus.
Now as a leader how do you spot, develop, keep, grow and support your talent?
As a CEO I have handpicked my team and will continue to be very hands-on in hiring. Culture is very important and we’re dedicated to hiring smart people who can do a variety of tasks and who fit the company culture.
Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why?
As a female-led company, we consciously support a diversity of all kinds. In fact, most of the executives of our company are female.
What is your take on what it takes to be a great leader in your industry and as a
general rule of thumb?
A great leader has to roll with the punches and celebrate the wins. Transparency is key. If the employees feel valued and are happy that will spill out to the users and customers. Also, it is important to really understand your customer and spend time with them and understand where their pain is. Never lose touch.
Advice for others?
The first thing is to believe in yourself. You have what it takes to lead. Be bold and think big. Believe in your ideas and believe in the wisdom of women. Empower women to lead within your organization, do everything you can to give them space to innovate and express themselves. Many of today’s problems are due to short-sighted thinking; women tend to think longer term, and this is a vital quality to foster so we’re able to manage the problems of today for a better world tomorrow.
Additionally, watch your spending, make sure you have money to last. Don’t squander it. Watch your bottom line very carefully. If you’re in charge of people, their lives depend on you managing the money conservatively to ensure there’s enough during tighter times.
Finally, enjoy yourself. Take time to breath and relax. This is tough when you’re in charge of a startup… there is so much to do! The list never seems to lessen. But you have to take time off to enjoy life and remember why you’re bothering to do what you’re doing. You’re building something to benefit yourself and your loved ones… so enjoy these things along the way to make sure you’re still healthy and they’re still there when you’re done.
We are currently launching our website and Beta version of our Comparison Selling Engine! We are very excited at how fast our tech team is moving and aim to launch the Beta of our SellHound Listing App in the next few months! Check it out at sellHound.com
Sign up for our newsletter at SellHound.com if you are interested in staying up to date on our technology. Also follow us on Facebook and Instagram