2. October 2012–
Online auction platform Auctionata is preparing to close a further investment round less than a month after its official launch from Berlin.
Auctionata – think Sotheby’s meets eBay – combines a shop for private sellers to list rare items with online auctions (with live video), backed by an international network of art and antique experts. Items up for grabs include a rare cross between a violin and a phonograph (€620) and the collected illustrated works of Jules Verne (€3970).
“Auctionata is a site that’s been created for the ‘everyday consumer’ and not for the 0.001 per cent art collector,” Auctionata founder and CEO Alexander Zacke told VentureVillage. “We’re addressing the market of someone who wants to buy a nice decorative painting or photograph for his home, or a nice piece of antique furniture or glass vase.”
Zacke knows eCommerce (even if his definition of “everyday” might be a little off for the average Berliner). He spent eight years as a so-called eBay PowerSeller (top-rated seller) and also worked for the online giant as a consultant and lobbyist. “I started to sell on eBay when there were 30 people in this business or even less,” he said. “I saw the whole growth until where it is now…”
His new project is already backed by Holtzbrinck, the Otto Group and e.ventures (the global venture platform of BV Capital). There’s a bit of ex-Rocket Internet fuel in the mix, too. Florian Heinemann, now CEO of new Berlin company builder Project A, is taking a seat on the Auctionata board. (There’s no other link between Auctionata and Project A, except that the Otto Group is an investor in both.)
Auctionata’s average shopping basket price, at about €1000, is higher than the classic e-commerce companies built by the likes of Rocket Internet but Zacke expects the marketing strategy going forward to be pretty similar (hence Heinemann’s appointment).
It’s probably a good thing art collectors aren’t the main target market – it seems some aren’t quite ready to head online. “A lot of collectors say ‘I’ll never buy something I haven’t had in my hand’,” Zacke said. “I heard the same thing 15 years ago with eBay…”
While Germany still hasn’t produced global internet companies in the league of Google, Facebook or eBay, Zacke is part of the camp that believes Berlin is on the cusp of something big. ”In a couple of years from now, probably we’ll see a few companies coming from here with global influence,” he said. “I certainly hope Auctionata will be one of them.”