Ryan Sit founded PicClick.com in 2009 in San Diego, California.
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Tell me about your current business. What are you doing exactly?
PicClick.com is a visual eBay browser. With PicClick you can see up to a hundred products on one page compared to a handful in the standard eBay view.
How did you come up with your business idea?
Before PicClick I developed a visual Craigslist browser allowing people to browse Craigslist by photos, vs clicking in and out of all the listings just to see the photos. Craigslist banned it after 9 months after it became too popular.
But we still had the visual interface which we re-adapted for eBay. We are the first and probably the only ones that can show so many photos with infinite scroll and a zoom slider all on 1 webpage. No one can do it as fast as us.
What were you doing before this, and is this your first business?
I've been doing various web businesses for the past 10 years. I've done businesses in internet photo/video, music, classifieds, and news. Really it is all about experimenting, innovating, and gathering data points. Also learning really fast. That is the main thing for internet entrepreneurs.
Did you write a business plan? Was it an effective tool for you?
I've written business plans before, but for this business we did not need outside funding. I've done enough internet businesses to be able to plan out everything in my head. For this type of idea, the main thing is to do it quickly and learn/adapt as you go.
Who did you hire to help you?
I did everything myself. For internet businesses I try to do things really quickly and efficiently. That requires me to learn a ton of stuff myself. Once it gets to a certain scale and is profitable, I usually outsource some tasks like marketing or SEO.
What outside resources were helpful for you? Business incubators, Chamber of Commerce, SCORE, ….
Networking opportunities are the most important. Events like Affiliate Summit or Techcrunch meetups are important to meet new people and find new opportunities.
Did you operate your business from your home? What were the challenges and benefits to this strategy?
I've had a business in the past with offices and employees, but now I have a wife and kids and tend to focus/enjoy small and fast web business that I can test, bootstrap and run by myself at home. That allows me to move very quickly and stay very focused.
Did you have a partner when you started your business? How did you select a partner?
If it is a larger project, I will find a partner. It is really hard to find a good partner, but I usually find people through my network of friends. Having a good strong network is very important.
What have you done that has been very effective in helping to grow the business?
For internet businesses SEO is often very important. Each web business is different. One strategy that often helps is a "piggyback" type strategy where you piggyback on another popular thing. For example with PicClick we are piggybacking on eBay and it's already large community.
What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?
Do it today. The thing I see most often is people that think about ideas, but never try it and do it. Just dive it and get started, that is the biggest barrier. Once you start you will start learning and figuring it out.
Thanks for the inspirational story, Ryan! Best wishes on your current and future businesses.