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Price Guide Explores Crowd-Investing to Grow Beyond eBay

Will Seippel is on a mission, and he’s open to trying a new and very different approach to help him achieve it. As founder and CEO of WorthPoint Corporation, he’s working to improve the pricing transparency that exists between sellers and buyers of antiques, art, and collectibles, helping sellers realize better prices and helping buyers understand fair prices to pay for such items.

This week, Seippel sent a letter to the WorthPoint community to gauge their interest in investing in the company. But this is not a crowdfunding effort like a Kickstarter campaign. If WorthPoint decides to move forward, investors would own stock directly in the company – you can read more about the concept of investment crowdfunding on the SEC website.

Seippel explained in his letter, “A recent change in legislation now allows companies, like us, to accept investment capital from our community. Since you have been a pivotal part of our growth, we would like to invite you to indicate interest in investing in our next fundraising round. By no means is this binding; it is simply an indication of your potential interest to help us determine whether or not to pursue this new fundraising path.”

The campaign is explained on SeedInvest.com, which on Thursday evening said there was already “$1,665,000 of indicated interest.”

Seippel is no stranger to raising money. “We have about $15M invested in the infrastructure of WorthPoint and have not used venture money for this,” Seippel told EcommerceBytes. “Most of our investors are people that have invested with me over the years.”

How would the company use the possible investment? “We need greater funding to build the database out quicker for non eBay sources; bringing a consumer product to market, accepting 3rd party content and connecting all of that through our taxonomy. Also to do the patent filing work for some of the intellectual processes that have already been filed with the patent office that show promise.”

He said the 9-year old company is profitable – he describes it as a financial data company and a technology company. WorthPoint has 13,000 paying customers and over 1.5 million unique monthly visitors.

The company’s database contains over 300 million historical prices and over 90,000 items in the MAPS (Marks, Autographs, Patterns, and Symbols) database, and next month, it will launch a visual recognition feature for its MAPS product on both mobile and desktop.

A WorthPoint funding round under the new rules would not be Seippel’s first brush with innovative financing. “I have always been a first adopter on Wall Street for things and this will be another one,” he told us. “I issued the first bonds that were traded in Euros and first public offering of a Russian company after their economy crashed in the 90’s.”

Crowd-investing is something he’s been waiting for, and he said he’s prepared. But while he’s pitched the company he built from scratch to investors in the past, this experience is different, given the very public nature of the request – and the transparency of the community’s response.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.