As a School of Business Distinguished Alumni Awardee in 2009 and a Prominent Patriot in 2018, Will Seippel, BS Economics and Accounting ’78, has maintained strong connections with George Mason University while growing his company, WorthPoint.
Founded in 2007, WorthPoint is a site for both businesses and individuals to identify and research the value of antiques, fine art, and other collectibles. Seippel had reached a point where he had accomplished everything he wanted to as a finance professional, deciding that he then wanted to combine his passions in creating his own company. “The internet was creating so many opportunities with data, and, in my case, I believe everything equates to money,” he says. “But there’s also a sentimental value that can add to the financial value of something.” Today, WorthPoint’s Price Guide features more than 740 million items and 2 billion photographs and is ranked in the world’s top 1,000 most-visited sites. WorthPoint also has other tools available on its website, including a digital library of more than 18,000 reputable, industry-relevant books and a database of more than 235,000 maker’s marks and symbols.
Will Seippel originally planned to play football at another university, but a car accident forced him to change plans. Not having the best high school academic record, he managed to convince Mason’s president that he could do the work, and that it would be a mistake not to admit him. Three years later, he graduated from the rigorous program in economics and accounting while working full-time and playing lacrosse and rugby. “What I tell people is that Mason really taught me how to think,” he says. He appreciated how professors from different backgrounds and with different ways of reaching students were able to open his mind. “They didn’t try to steer us to what to think, but how to think, and that’s what you should be getting out of school,” he says.
George Mason University is not only Seippel’s alma mater but also a vital stakeholder of WorthPoint. Jim Wolfe, an associate professor of management and entrepreneur-in-residence, and Richard Klimoski, a professor of management and psychology (and then dean of the School of Business), were important resources to get it off the ground and running. “When meeting with Will, I saw that he was a very intelligent and principled person who also had an entrepreneurial spirit,” says Klimoski. “He and I shared a common interest in contemporary art and antiques.” At that time, eBay had already made a huge change in the market, making it easier for buyers to find sellers. “Richard believed that the story behind the item was as interesting as the actual value of the item,” says Seippel. By working with people who understood and valued the mission, while gaining business guidance from them, he transformed WorthPoint into the expansive online database it is today.
Seippel’s vision for WorthPoint was always forward-thinking and ambitious, as he believed that the necessary technology would eventually catch up. Now that the technology has made more ground, the startup is prepared to add more features to help its nearly 35,000 subscribers. “You’re starting to see those results of technology come out in handheld devices, and the changes we’re going to see are pretty astounding,” he says. In May 2023, WorthPoint launched a regulation crowdfunding campaign via StartEngine for product expansion, including visual search recognition on its mobile app, a user-generated digital database called the Vault for users to catalog and preserve the financial and emotional significance of their collectibles, and an index-linked investment product, WorthPoint Indices, that statistically measures price trends across collectibles categories. So far, the campaign has raised nearly $250,000, twice that when including the contributions of company insiders. “With the crowdfunding, we don’t have anyone promising us a good ending, but it’s actually worked really well for us,” he says. During the campaign, WorthPoint has also picked up about 500 new subscribers.
Seippel’s passions have driven him to continue innovating at WorthPoint as he contemplates exciting new resources to benefit his customers. It has become a family business, with two of his children now working alongside him on the team. Remaining close to the School of Business has paid dividends, as he learned how to set up a business plan and the school invested in the enterprise. Now, the crowdfunding campaign is nearly complete, and he looks to the future of WorthPoint with the potential of the company unlocked.
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