PureWrx CEO and co-founder David Schofman never thought about becoming an entrepreneur until he just did it.
His first venture, an online platform selling golf clubs that he co-launched with his boss from his high school days, ended with an acquisition by CBS Sportsline in 1998. Not bad for a first timer, whose degree from the University of Texas was in public relations and who said his only skill at the time was golfing.
His second go, a marketplace for used golf equipment, also ended in an acquisition; this time by Callaway Golf Company, one of the largest golf equipment manufacturers in the world. Today he's involved with a range of ventures including PureWrx, a platform for pre-owned, remanufactured hardware launched in 2012.
“This has been the hardest company I’ve ever been involved with,” said Schofman. “We have gone through six full business pivots trying to find our footing in the IT hardware ecosystem.”
We caught up with Schofman to learn more about his journey, as well as what’s next for the growing company.
It took us four years to figure things out, and we are still learning and adjusting.”
What inspired you to launch your first business, International Golf Outlet in 1994?
When I saw that no one was selling golf clubs online, I presented a business plan to my old boss, Beau Wright, who owned a golf shop in Houston. He agreed to give it a shot, and we became 50-50 partners. By 1998, we were selling over $25 million worth of clubs online a year. It was at that point that CBS SportsLine, now owned by CBS, acquired us.
What did you learn from that experience that you continue to draw from today?
I honestly had no idea what it took to run a business. Since I was a PR major, I had no experience in business. I had to learn everything in real time. I think the most important lesson I got from that was how hard it is to start a business. For people who have never done it, it is impossible to understand. Even the little things, like getting phone lines set up and installing desks and furniture — you have to do it all.
What led to the founding of PureWrx?
After selling my first company, I started another company selling used golf clubs with Wright, my business partner Brian Anderson and my college roommate Tom Barnett. This is when I got obsessed with the certified pre-owned idea. Within four years, we had grown the business to nearly $50 million in sales and sold it to Callaway Golf. We took that same model to the home improvement world and started a company called CPO Commerce, which sold new and used tools for companies like Bosch, Makita, Black & Decker and Porter Cable.
PureWrx was born out of my history with CPO along with a friend of mine, Jay Bock, who was a pioneer in the used IT hardware space. Jay and I knew each other as neighbors, and after selling his previous company, he approached Brian Anderson, Shawn Dinwiddie and me with the question, “Do you think the certified pre-owned business model will work in IT hardware?” And away we went.
What's different about PureWrx than previous companies you've launched?
This has been the hardest company I’ve been involved with. We have gone through six business pivots trying to find our footing in the IT hardware ecosystem. My own lack of industry knowledge was a hindrance, along with some basic bias that I had about the way technical people purchase and find value. It took us four years to figure things out, and we are still learning and adjusting to the needs of our customers. When you are starting an entirely new category and changing behavior that has been in place for 50 years, it’s hard. But that’s what makes it so satisfying, and I know it can be done because we have done it in other sectors.
What challenges does your team face?
Getting the right people in the right roles. It sounds basic, but it’s not. Given the number of times we’ve had to adjust the business model, it makes it really hard to get folks in the right places for them to be successful. We have a lot of passionate people who are willing to roll with the punches and adapt.
What's ahead for PureWrx?
Global expansion. Today, we have folks in Amsterdam, London and Dubai. Entering a new market so far away is uniquely challenging, but our customers are global. We are also focused on expanding our OEM partners as well as our U.S. customer base.
What have you learned about hiring from your experiences?
People are everything. I take an enormous amount of pride and responsibility in hiring and growing people. It is one of my greatest pleasures as a business owner. Hiring athletes is the key. You can teach them the rest, but you cannot teach desire, passion and smarts. Athletes are smart and extremely competitive, which is a foundational aspect we look for when we are hiring.