Last night, Silicon Prairie News hosted the third Startup Story Social, an event series highlighting a Silicon Prairie startup champion every month.
Startup Story Social is aimed at helping to ensure the future of Silicon Prairie’s tech startup scene by building the community through social events that combine founders, creative types, investors, engineers, designers, marketers, and more.
Proxibid co-founders Ken Maxwell, Andy Liakos and Joe Petsick. The latest episode of the SPN Startup Story Video Series featuring Flywheel was also premiered.
Embracing the internet
Proxibid is a leader in online auctioneering site and marketplace for highly valued items. In 2016, Proxibid hosted 15,000 live auctions totally $450 million in sales, but it took the company time to get there.
Petsick said that Proxibid grew out of recognizing an opportunity to disrupt a marketplace that had really gone unchanged for thousands of years. Auctioneers were bound by geographical region and didn’t have a wide reach. The industry hadn’t yet embraced the internet which left it in an unchanged state.
“It was a fragmented industry,” said Petsick. “There were tons of players.”
Work hard, stick to your guns
Proxibid launched in 2001 back when the founders say, “Being a startup wasn’t cool yet.” They were seeking funding at a time when Omaha wasn’t accustomed to investing in startup companies with risk. Without one main source of funding, they cobbled together small investments to get Proxibid off the ground.
“It was really really challenging. Most of the time we had our heads down […] keeping everything running,” said Petsick.
They attended their first trade show with a mocked up website that wasn’t actually live and took a “fake it until you make it” approach to selling their services. They were told by an attendee that they’d never make it.
They struggled through growing pains like building their first 800×600 resolution website (without a database) for $19,000.
“Today you could build it for a grand and it would be ten times better,” said Maxwell.
Now, the company has over 4,000 unique auctioneers, asset owners and consignors with buyers from 190 countries, with over 13,000 new buyer accounts being created every month.
“Don’t believe the skeptics,” said Liakos. “Stick to your guns and work hard.”