The Rolex shop that could

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Paul Altieri

So this is a different kind of story that came across the channels, but it did catch my interest. Someone starting a business of buying and selling used Rolex watches. While trying not to look like a pawn shop or another eBay, Paul Altieri, the founder of Bobs Watches, launched in 2010, and has seen huge growth year over year, needless to say, we thought it was worth while to see what he had to say about it, so we asked him a bit about his business.

 

What were some of the largest challenges in starting up Bob's Watches?

There were several, but here are the top few:

1. Developing the business model has to be the top challenge in any business but it was increasingly more difficult for us being an online business since everything we did was in real time.  There was no down time so when we messed up, it was live.  Somewhat similar to a Broadway play where you don’t get to retake a scene like a movie can.

2. Developing a brand new business methodology: We call it “The Pre-Owned Rolex Exchange”. Would it work?  How do we build trust and integrity, the foundation for our success?

3. Handling the online nuances of internet marketing.  It’s fun, it’s competitive ( like football minus the tackling ), and its rewarding.

4. The operational challenges of ecommerce from the website, to the shopping cart, to graphics, photo’s……everything.  It is ALWAYS overwhelming.

 What was the inspiration for this? There are a lot of buy and sell shops out there, so what was the inspiration for a Rolex specific one?

Actually, we are the only true “Buy Sell” exchange model in existence.  Not just for watches, but for any product for that matter.  It’s never been done before where there is a buy and a sell price next to each product/item.  The concept actually was a byproduct from listening to customers. Many were yearning for a way to help them to determine if they were getting a fair deal to sell their Rolex watch.  So if we offered someone $5,000 on their used Rolex, we thought, wouldn’t it be great if they could see that we actually sell the same model for $6,500 (* all serviced, cleaned up and restored of course )  It’s been a very rewarding experience.

 

Do you have future plans to expand beyond only Rolex watches?

Probably not additional watch brands. But we are actually test launching an estate jewelry and diamond vertical now.  It will be exciting to see the results.

 

 Watches seem priced based on their model, do you do anything the guarantee their authenticity, working condition, or wear?

Yes, all of our watches have gone through a thorough evaluation by our dedicated authorized Rolex repair facility.  And every watch comes with Bob’s Watches complete authenticity guarantee and a 1 year warranty.  However, it should be noted, that almost half of our watches have their original Rolex factory paperwork.

 

 This has seen some pretty amazing reported growth, are you worried about site copying your business plan popping up? What do you think will really keep you set apart from them?

Competition is good for everyone….even us.  It keeps us motivated to constantly improve and innovate.  “Never rest on your laurels” is one of my many business tenets. Additionally, being “first to market” with a new product or service has its advantages too.  We also filed a patent application last year for the “watch exchange” concept.

 

 What's next for Bob’s Watches and Paul Altieri?

While I love to start new businesses, I plan to “run” with this one for a long while.  I am doing two things that I am passionately fond of:  Rolex watches and the Internet.  And since Bob’s Watches is now becoming a global brand, I get to make friends with people from all over the world like Italy, London, Dubai, and Hong Kong to name a few.

 

 I've read that you're a serial entrepreneur. With the economy as it is right now and so many home business cropping up, what would you say is some of the best advice you can give for anyone else starting out?

1. Do the math on a business proposition.  Ask yourself realistically, “How much money can I make in a day or a year”.

2. Find a niche: build a better mousetrap or fill a void. But filling a void is much easier and rewarding. If you are the only pizza place in a 100 mile radius, you won’t need a top notch location or the best pizza with the best price. On the other hand, if there is competition, are you faster , better, or cheaper?

3. I love the Internet and still feel we are in the first few innings. There is and will continue to be an abundance of opportunities. As I am typing this email, we just sold a $30,000 Rolex watch to a gentleman in Copenhagen. How awesome is that? I love the Internet and I love this business!

 

Paul AltieriThe exchange was pretty interesting, and we'll be watching his progress. A Rolex exchange is definitely a unique business idea, and his advice really is worth while to anyone else considering starting up their own business. If you're looking to pick up a Rolex or sell one of your own, then it probably isn't a bad idea to take a look at Bobs Watches, you'll have the peace of min of knowing that you weren't scammed out of thousands of dollars.

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