The second-hand market for luxury jewelry is expansive. Between the popularity of vintage items and the lasting quality of fine jewelry, there’s high incentive to buy and sell used. But the marketplace isn’t always regulated and it can be difficult for consumers to trust they’re getting a fair deal on authentic pieces.
TrueFacet aims to address that concern. The New York-based startup provides an online marketplace and authentication process for users to buy and sell luxury jewelry and watches.
“TrueFacet was founded in January 2014 with the mission of solving the key problems that consumers face in the jewelry industry — which is a lack of trust in pricing and authenticity,” said CEO and co-founder Tirath Kamdar.
Sellers can list items on the site themselves or use TrueFacet’s consignment concierge, which includes authenticators who appraise pieces and offer prices. When necessary, TrueFacet also refurbishes the piece to address any wear and tear. When the item sells, TrueFacet pays the seller up to 80 percent of the resale value.
For buyers, TrueFacet guarantees that items will be listed for 25-to-70 percent less than retail value.
Kamdar brings over eight years of experience in the jewelry industry to the table. His expertise is complemented by co-founder and COO Chris Chan, a Merrill Lynch veteran with over 10 years of trading and operations experience.
We caught up with Kamdar for this installment of Startup Spotlight, a regular GeekWire feature.
Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “TrueFacet is the luxury marketplace, where folks can shop and sell jewelry and watches with confidence — authenticity and best price guaranteed.”
Inspiration hit us when: “Having grown up in a family with more than 40 years of experience in the jewelry industry, I observed firsthand the daily struggles customers encountered online and offline, trying to not only find the right items that suited their needs, but a fair and authentic shopping experience that made them feel good about their purchase.
People didn’t know where to go or who to trust. Jewelry shopping and selling shouldn’t be like this — it should be enjoyable. Based on this principle, we set out to offer individuals an experience they deserve that is transparent and fun.”
VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “We were bootstrapped for the past nine months, but now have a good mix of funding from angels and VCs.”
Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “Deep domain knowledge and access to supply.”
The smartest move we’ve made so far: “Running fast tests to see what works and iterating based on data and customer validation.”
The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “Hiring too quickly.”
Would you rather have Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “Bezos, since we’re an e-commerce company and he’s definitely a master in this space.”
Our world domination strategy starts when: “When folks see us as the trusted destination for shopping and selling second-hand luxury goods.”
Rivals should fear us because: “We have deep domain expertise in the jewelry industry backed with user acquisition, brand building and data analytics expertise that make for a great customer experience.”
We are truly unique because: “We’re the first marketplace focused on an end-to-end experience of jewelry. Therefore, we are able to offer the shopping and selling experience people deserve with a promise of authentication of every item and best value. We drive this by having experts in jewelry authentication with over 50 years of combined experience in jewelry and watches, and also leverage technology through photo recognition to filter out fakes. We also have a real-time pricing engine that gives sellers a best price instantly for their items.”
The biggest hurdle we’ve overcome is: “Building trust with early customers was very important and we accomplished this by offering our direct mobile numbers and backgrounds on the founders to show that we’ve built this business for ‘you,’ the customer.”
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “Stay focused on your value proposition and don’t try to do too many things. Having the right value proposition that is simple for customers to understand and then proving it out very quickly is critical to building a successful business.”
Editor’s note: GeekWire is featuring each of the 10 startup companies participating in the TechStars Seattle incubator in the lead up to the Demo Day pitch event and launch party on Nov. 6.