Local PawnGuru Startup Gains Traction across the U.S.By Amanda Lewan on January 26th, 2015 /
There comes a time in many people’s lives when it is tough to get by financially. Pawn shops provide a little help during this time by taking items of value and lending out a collateralized loan.
The person can then pay off the loan to get their item back, or if they fail to pay it back, the pawnshop will sell the item to make money. If you find yourself in this situation, you’ll often spend days driving around to multiple pawn shops to get a deal for your item. Southfield based startup PawnGuru has created a marketplace to help bring these customers and pawn shops together online.
“It’s kind of like a travelocity or orbitz but for pawn shops,” said Co-founder David Stiebel. “Instead of having a customer drive all around town to get offers they can come here from their phone and computer. Then when they do go to the shop they know exactly what they are getting.”
Stiebel first got involved in business and entrepreneurship while at college at MIT, before working in consulting. His Co-founder and long time friend Jonathan Polter persuaded him to come back to Detroit to start a business together.
The startup first built their MVP at the beginning of 2014. After raising a small round of seed funding, they continued to grow attracting over 100 shops in Atlanta and 50 pawn shops in Chicago. They are now estimating upwards to $2 Million in transactions occurring on their marketplace. PawnGuru is currently raising a second round of investment to help fund their expansion across the U.S.
The startup has seen less traction in Michigan where pawn shops are more tightly regulated by the state. The State of Michigan, according to Stiebel, has one of the tightest interest rate caps on pawn shop lending.
But for those pawn shops using the site, they are finding more business and saving time too. Pawn shops are able to save time and money by sorting through deals quickly and getting exactly what they want.
“Pawn shops can specifically reach out to items they know they want. They are getting much more relevant, engaged customers,” said Stiebel. And Stiebel says, the store owners have seen an increase in business once they participate in the platform.
PawnGuru is free for pawn shops and customers to use right now. Keep this startup on your list to watch out for in 2015, as they continue to gain traction and funding here in Michigan.
Learn more by visiting www.pawnguru.com.