What’s It All Worth?
Perhaps the inspiration for WorthPoint was Will Seippel’s childhood home near Manassas battle field, where there were plenty of cool knick-knacks to discover. Or perhaps it was the influence of his European mother, who happened to grow up in a family that collected art.
“There was always an awareness,” Will says of what drove him to found an online database that identifies and valuing antiques, art, and vintage collectibles. “I understood there was much more data needed to understand pricing in this market.” He calls Worthpoint a Bloomberg for art, antiques, and collectibles in a $500 billion-a-year market.
“Our customers have a problem you don’t have in dealing with the stock market,” Will says. WorthPoint helps them find out exactly what something is and how much its worth. The company’s mission is to bring increased transparency into the market.
WorthPoint stores about one billion high resolution images, and exponentially more data on the pieces in their database. To achieve that, Will says he’s always had to be one step ahead of where tech was going.
“One of our leading premises is that data storage was only going to get cheaper and cheaper and that you can collect more and more images with the same pricing,” says Will. The ability to handle them and process them, however, requires the most current technology. “We’ve always been at the forefront of tech advances even though we’re a small company,” says Will.
Will’s contribution is in the form of algorithms and formulas. “We have the right nerds working here,” he says. “What we’re doing is really a huge data conundrum.”
WorthPoint sources data such as descriptions of images from auction houses or antique stores, pricing information, and of course, article images. Another product they brought online in December of 2015 allows customers to identify what something is based on a maker’s mark. Will says this “autograph” that appears on some antiques identifies the original producer. The marks originated back when porcelain was a scarce resource.
Will is also pretty excited about an image recognition search tool they’ve developed. “I think image recognition is the biggest thing to happen to our industry since eBay,” he says. “We’re bringing technology to the world’s oldest stuff. It’s pretty cool.”
As for the market for this kind of innovation, Will says it’s still small collectors. Even so, Will has bigger dreams for his proprietary tech.
“Though we decided to focus on the lower end of the market, we still have to figure out a multi-product strategy. We’re really becoming a professional product.”
Will’s vision is to build a virtual vault for clients of all sizes to keep their collectibles’ values updated. He says the model can easily scale for a larger asset client. Will counts 15,000 paying customers and says that number is growing every month. “Whether you are a small collector and it’s for your homeowners insurance or you’re a big collector and you have valuable, fancy pieces of art,” Will thinks, WorthPoint can change the way you value about your most prized possessions.