Business Profile | Juha Koponen

July 2015 View more

Juha Koponen, CEO of, for Naperville MagazineBolingbrook-based is the largest online consignment marketplace for kids’ items, baby and maternity clothing and accessories. Recently, the company announced plans to expand into women’s apparel, shoes and accessories.

Naperville Magazine spoke with CEO and co-founder Juha Koponen about what’s behind the company’s secret to success when it comes to buying and selling pre-owned fashions online.

Buying and selling pre-owned fashion s is not necessarily a new idea. However, is one of the largest and fastest growing online consignment stores on the market. What sets apart from other online consignment stores?

We provide the best consignment value for our sellers, giving them 60 percent of their sales proceeds, which is much higher than other online consignment stores. We’re able to do this profitably due to our operational efficiencies and the technology we’ve developed ourselves – even with an average item price of $7 on our site.

Customers can also send us all brands, we are not picky, as long as the items are in good condition. In this way, we serve all customers, not just those who want to sell their high-end fashion garments. And, we are the only true consignment store, others are really online thrift stores paying you 10 percent to 20 percent of the item’s price upfront rather than helping you sell it to a larger market. recently expanded into a new 66,000 square foot center in Bolingbrook and is the world’s largest online reseller. As CEO, where do you see your biggest opportunity for growth?

It’s what we already do now: make it very easy and cost efficient for everyone to sell the pre-owned items they no longer need and also acquire pre-owned items that they could use.

We started with kid’s items including clothing, toys and other merchandise, and recently expanded to women’s clothing. For us, it’s very clear we want to expand to other categories when the time is right. In our vision, the customer should be able to put everything they think is of value into a box and send it to us. Buyers can then get as much as they can pre-owned.

With online competition continuing to grow, what do you see as your biggest challenge within the next 12-18 months?

It’s really keeping up with the growing demand of our customers. Our sellers send us more and more and this is all about scaling physically very fast. It’s not just a website, but a physical operation. I don’t worry about competition, as our value to sellers is so much better, and our 16 times growth in customer inventory over the past 18 months shows the confidence our customers have in the service we provide.

What has been your proudest accomplishment so far in your career?

I’m already very happy about All the positive customer feedback we receive, such as “When I found this website, it was like finding gold,” or “Your prices are a life savior,” tell me we are on the right path in serving the customers and adapting to the way they want to consume goods.

Earlier I was in a software company, and we developed software products ourselves and sold them to telecom operators in over 40 countries and on five continents. In my early career as a physicist, I also got to the top of my special subject. So, I guess it’s always when you get to the top of your specialty area in the world, that’s when you can be proud.

From a business perspective, whom do you admire?

There are many, but to name a few: Elon Musk, for envisioning the future and then implementing the vision and the hard technology. Jeff Bezos, for creating Amazon by giving the best deal to the customer thanks to an amazing operation.

With numerous geographical locations to consider, both in the Chicago area and around the world, what inspired to set-up shop in Bolingbrook?

We are close to the major UPS hub in Hodgkins. This allows us to deliver our packages to 80 percent of the country within two to three days. We want to serve our customers well and this was a key decision point. Bolingbrook, as a city, has also been great and we’ve been able to attract and hire good talent here. We’re happy to be a part of the Bolingbrook community.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I’m with my family. I have three kids and spending time with them is just great. I like biking and I try to bike to work as often as I can. I also enjoy cross-country skiing whenever possible, cooking, reading and helping my wife in our garden. In the garden my specialty has been dealing with hundreds of pounds of apples.

Photo by Mike Hudson