As we process applications for the 2012 Inc. 500|5000, we thought it would be worthwhile to shine a spotlight on some of the companies that are vying to appear on our ranking of the fastest-growing private companies in the United States. (For more information and to apply, click here). One that caught our eye was NextLot in Raleigh, North Carolina.
If Scott Finkelstein has his way, the online auction business will never be the same.
Finklestein, the third generation of Finklestein men to work in the auction business, founded NextLot, a privately branded auction software for online auctions, in 2007.
"What we do is help auction companies post timed Ebay-style and live webcast online auctions," he says. "People can watch and listen in and bid from all over the world."
Each year, nearly $300 billion items—from farm equipment to artwork—are sold in auctions. Last year, NextLot sold $1 billion of that sum, netting nearly $2.5 million among 100 clients in various industries. The company sells tractors, real estate, and even high-value collectables, like paintings. Over the last year, people have bid from every continent in the world. Clients saw a 400 percent rise in bids while using NextLot.
The platform is also completely web-based, which means bidders don't have to download any software. Within 10 seconds, bidders can log in and bid. NextLot was built to provide companies an alternative to other online auction companies, where firms had to host auctions side-by-side with competitors. It's a white label software, which means companies can privately brand their own auctions.
"My dad mentioned to me a few years ago that he felt quite strongly that there must be a better alternative," says Finklestein. So Scott, who had already run two successful software companies, decided to build it. "I thought there would be a huge opportunity here in an industry that we knew intimately well."
Now, the family-run business operates with about 20 employees, including Scott, his father, sister, and uncle. Finklestein says being family-run is actually good for business.
"Our clients appreciate working with a company like ours because we didn't just come to this industry with no knowledge," he says. "We have three generations in the auction business."