By the fall of 1998, Brandon Dupsky’s wife was beginning to think her husband was a shopaholic. Every day, she’d come home to find that the postman had delivered yet another package containing merchandise Dupsky had bought on eBay. Dupsky’s purchases weren’t expensive enough to be alarming—just a few dollars spent here and there. And he wasn’t buying anything extravagant or useless. In fact, everything in those boxes was something that the Dupskys or their kids could use—if not now, then later.
But there were a lot of boxes. More and more every day.
If Dupsky’s wife had hauled him onto a pop-psych television talk show back then, the host surely would have diagnosed him as a crazy spendthrift with an addiction to eBay. But every purchase Dupsky made on eBay was an investment in the business he planned to start. Buying was his quirky—and ultimately highly effective—brand of market research.
Back when he went on his eBay buying binge, Dupsky was juggling a full-time job in logistics and supply chain management for a big company while attending night school at the University of Nebraska. Dupsky had long been the entrepreneurial sort: “I’ve always wanted to have a business,” he says. “I’ve always wanted to try to figure out how to make money, find an opportunity, and run with it, but I didn’t know what it was going to be.”
Between the MBA classes, his experience in supply chain management, and the still-fledgling eBay web site, Dupsky found just the spark he needed. ...