Benny (Ben) De-Kalo, Founder & CEO at Worthy
Lives in: Moshav Neta’im (Israel)
Significant others: Married + 3
Company’s main offices: NYC & Tel Aviv
What does your company do and why is it unique?
Worthy is an online marketplace for pre-owned luxury goods, such as diamond jewelry, colored stones and high-end timepieces. Worthy is a C2B marketplace (which is quite unique): It provides a fair and convenient alternative for consumers who own high-value items to sell them for the best available price in a timely manner. Worthy also brings significant value to its business buyers, who can buy professionally authenticated high-value items directly from the public.
US households constitute, in effect, the single biggest diamond mine in the world, with over $1 trillion worth of polished diamonds. Any individual who owns a diamond is a stakeholder of this mine. It is estimated that there are only 50 more years’ worth of new gem quality diamonds worthy of excavations. The future of diamonds lies in recycling already-mined diamonds and repurposing them. I am extremely proud that we provide businesses with direct and trusted access to this significant supply.
What are you most proud of in your company?
Our team. Our greatest asset is our people. We have exceptionally talented staff with a breadth of experience that is unmatched and from a wide range of backgrounds. When I begin a management meeting with my team, I can proudly say that I am the least talented person in the conference room.
Benny & the talented team at Worthy (click to enlarge)
Who inspires you/who do you admire and why?
Steve Jobs, for being a visionary who also knew how to execute perfectly. One of his best quotes: “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower”.
Michael Jordan, who for me is more than just the best basketball player ever, he’s the greatest sportsman and athlete ever. Jordan was a true winner and a great team player. Some of his best quotes include “Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, and others make it happen”, and “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”.
Which other companies do you admire?
Uber and Airbnb. Building a successful marketplace is really hard. It requires trust, liquidity on both the supply and demand side to function perfectly, ease of use, and much more. Uber and Airbnb are not just successful marketplaces, they have made paradigm shifts while also skillfully creating shared economies. Airbnb has done it in the real estate industry and Uber in the car industry.
In the case of Airbnb, can you believe that a real estate company with no tangible real estate assets could command a $20B valuation? It’s amazing that a platform for sharing real estate holds a much higher revenue multiple than a company that owns real estate assets, such as Hilton (with a market cap of $27B).
What do you do for fun?
I love running and listening to music. I get my best ideas while running.
iPhone or Android?
iPhone, of course. I believe that Steve Jobs was one of the best innovators ever.
Japanese cuisine. Tastes great and isn’t too fattening!
Favorite TV Shows:
Seinfeld. It reminds me of my college days in NYC during the 90s.
Favorite technological gadgets/apps right now:
Waze. I use it every day. I think it’s the greatest community based app around.
Favorite go-to websites/blogs for news on your industry/technology:
Above the Crowd by Bill Gurley, technology’s top marketplace investor in Silicon Valley (Uber, OpenTable, GrubHub, 1stdibs and many more).
The best business advice you ever received:
In his book, Delivering Happiness, Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappos, discusses how important it is to be transparent with your customers and employees. I think this is vital if you want to build a really big and successful company.
What do you think would really surprise people to learn about you?
The best vacation for me is to simply go to work. I really enjoy it.
For me, using a sense of humor is the best way to carry through.
I dream in both English and Hebrew
I really hate garlic
Thanks to my wife, I learned how to share my house and live in harmony with a Great Dane, a cat, an Ara parrot, chickens, guinea pigs, 2 goats and many other weird animal. I practically live on a mini-farm…
Benny with 3 of his “kids” (two of his 3 human children and one of the goat variety) 🙂