When Kristin Langenfeld became a mom in 2015, she was frustrated by the limited options for buying used baby gear.
“The items are extremely expensive, but they really don’t get used for very long. A baby can use a swing for a matter of months, and then what do you do with it?” Langenfeld said.
Langenfeld decided to leave her career in Big Tech to focus on finding a solution. She co-founded GoodBuy Gear in 2016, a managed marketplace for used baby and kid items.
“I have an electrical engineering degree and I’ve specialized in mobile identity authentication for all my career, so it seems very strange to go and start a company in the retail recommerce space. But it was really a personal pain point,” Langenfeld said.
GoodBuy Gear started with an email list of just 20 families. Today, Langenfeld says, there are tens of thousands of customers who buy and sell on the site every month.
“You want to have a third party that you can trust to ensure that those items are safe, they’re quality-checked, they’re not recalled. And then you also get the convenience of not having to spend half your day going back and forth with random strangers on Facebook [Marketplace] or Craigslist.
Passion for solving a problem can become a successful business opportunity, if you start small and are willing to pivot, Langenfeld said.
“The original version of the company was trying to be a peer-to-peer marketplace, and when we showed up at people’s homes they said, ‘I have so much other things that I want to sell,'” Langenfeld said.
Earlier this year, GoodBuy Gear launched a partnership with national retailer Buy Buy Baby, which is run by Bed Bath & Beyond. GoodBuy Gear customers can trade in 25 different baby products at all Buy Buy Baby locations in exchange for store credit. Langenfeld forged the partnership by tracking shopping trends.
“The trend that can’t be ignored is recommerce and how many customers really are embracing the secondhand resale world,” Langenfeld said. “Especially in baby and kid gear, where some categories it ranges from 12% to 30% of the products are actually already being acquired secondhand.”
GoodBuy Gear has locations in Texas, Colorado, and Pennsylvania, and has plans to expand to Washington, D.C., New York and California later this year.
Watch the video to hear all four of Langenfeld’s strategies for turning a personal pain point into a successful business opportunity.
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Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.