That’s when he started thinking about the downsides of Craigslist and it led him to search for common categories that are more valuable, and therefore even scarier to sell, than couches. He typed in several search terms and when he typed in “Rolex” he was dumbfounded. Right there, he knew there had to be a better way to sell a watch. And Crown & Caliber was born!
Crown & Caliber is the first exclusive buyer and consigner of watches on the internet with a modern twist – not only do consumers get the best value possible for their timepieces, but a portion goes back to supporting saving children’s lives in third world countries.
Before Crown & Caliber, people looking to sell a watch were forced to sell through Craigslist, Ebay, or go to a second hand jeweler. Hamilton changed all of that with his revolutionary 5 step process of selling luxury watches online that is fast, safe, easy and doesn’t require customers to spend money on shipping or insurance.
Unusual Entrepreneur Interview Questions Part One
ENTREPRENEURSHIP: Awakening the Spirit of business
1. Can you please tell us a little about yourself and your business? What do you do?, how do you do it?, why do you do it and who do you do it for?
Born and raised in Atlanta, GA, I am the CEO of Crown & Caliber and the managing member of Powell Growth Capital, which is the funding source of Crown & Caliber. Crown & Caliber is the nation’s preferred solution to selling a luxury watch. Our Consignment Process allows us to work together with our customers to sell the watch for the highest possible value. We understand that a watch does more than just tell time and often has significant sentimental value to the owner. We enjoy speaking with all of our customers over the phone to learn more about them and their watch and to establish trust, ensuring them that selling with Crown & Caliber will be a rewarding process.
2. How would you describe your entrepreneurial journey into the world of business? Where there any key incidents or life changing events that inspired your decision to become an entrepreneur?
I was fortunate enough to have great teachers in school. I believe teachers can be incredible role models for entrepreneurs.
3. When you started out in business, what specific idea, purpose or vision was your key driving force?
I believe too many start-ups are “solutions in search of problems”. When I founded Crown & Caliber, I did so because it is nearly impossible for an individual to sell a luxury watch in a profitable and safe way. Therefore, we sought to create an innovative solution to this problem.
4. What is your take on the general notion that entrepreneurs should build a business around what they naturally love to do?
It is important to be passionate about your business. When speaking with customers on the phone, they can tell that we truly care about their timepiece. We are passionate about watches and people, which is evident to all of our customers through the relationships that we build with them.
5. What is your personal life mission as an entrepreneur? That is; what contributions do you want to make with your life or what would you like to be remembered for as an entrepreneur through the businesses you create when you die?
Our time on earth is short and it is important to leave a legacy. When we leave this earth, we will be remembered for the things we did and the people we touched. I have implemented this philosophy into the foundation of Crown & Caliber. With every watch Crown & Caliber sells, a portion of the money is donated to MAP International, which provides medicines to sick children around the world. Although they may never know who helped provide that medicine, our business efforts have helped to change a life. And that is a great legacy to leave.
6. What would you describe as the purpose of entrepreneurship? That is; what role do entrepreneurs play in the world?
An entrepreneur needs to be innovative and offer customers a product or service that addresses their needs. It is important to do significant research before creating a new business in order to figure out what voids need to be filled so that your business is not pushing a product on people who don’t need it.
Unusual Entrepreneur Interview Questions Part Two
STRATEGY: The unusual execution of business best practices
7. How do you identify business opportunities and what metrics do you use to measure their viability?
8. Do you have mentors, business coach or external consultants that you work closely with to grow yourself and your business? If yes, to what extent would you describe their impact on your business? If no, are there any particular reasons?
Crown & Caliber has a Board who offer great insight. These members are from all over the world and are from all different industries. It is important to have people outside of your business who can provide guidance because they can give views that are similar to the customers’, rather than from that of an employee. Each of these members has a different background and they are able to draw from their different experiences to help direct Crown & Caliber.
9. How do you strategically use your time as an entrepreneur? What key activities would you recommend entrepreneurs use their time for?
I think one of the least focused on aspect of the day to day life of an entrepreneur is taking time to read. By reading you will be able to raise your standards beyond just being the best in your industry.
10. How do you generate profitable customers for your business? What unusual approaches do you adopt for marketing your products/services?
As an online business, we focus many of our marketing efforts to online customers. We fill our site with rich content, in the hopes that watch enthusiasts visit it to learn more about their favorite watch, as well as to participate in our Consignment Process.
11. Many entrepreneurs complain about not succeeding in business due to lack of adequate funding, what is your take on this matter and how do you cope with funding issues in your business?
I believe funding is important – but using the funds wisely can be a difficult thing. It is easy to “ready fire aim” when you are well funded – so in some ways, having a lack of funds can be the best thing for the business. It forces you to focus.
12. When starting out a new business, who are the likely possible partners or professional service providers you would recommend every entrepreneur work with?
No matter what business you are in – you need a “coach”. This is an unbiased individual whom you can turn to seek honest advice.
13. The pricing of products/services is always an issue for entrepreneurs, what unusual approach do you take when it comes to pricing?
When a customer submits a quote request, it is immediately sent to our valuation team. Within the next few days, our team reaches out to the customer with a quote. If the customer accepts, we send them pre-paid, pre-insured packaging materials. Our watch-makers then authenticate and verify the watch and we provide the customer with a firm quote. Up to this point, the entire process has been free to the customer. If they decline our offer, we return their watch, free of charge.
We take on all of these costs ourselves because we want to make the process as convenient and easy as possible for the customer. If they accept our consignment offer, we charge the customer 19.5% of the final selling price as a service fee. Because it is a percentage of the final sale price, it shows the customer that we will work as hard as possible to get the highest value for his or her watch.
Unusual Entrepreneur Interview Questions Part Three
MISCELLANEOUS: Resourceful Recommendations, tools, books, and ideas for entrepreneurs
14. Since you became an entrepreneur – someone who solves problems for people profitably; what has been your most outstanding accomplishments in the context of business?
The thing I am most proud of in our business is our culture. When we started C&C, we began first by defining our culture. Our culture is defined by a simple phrase: “We live for the line, not the dot”. Every one of our team members believes in this. What does it mean? Well – simply that we are all alive for a very short period of time (dot), but there are things we can do during our time that will outlast us and continue to positively affect others (the line).
So we focus on those things, like treating our customers as human beings, not transactions – like our relationship with MAP International – how we treat each other at C&C – all of these kind of things will outlast all of us. Having a strong culture has allowed us to recruit incredible talent. If you are in a customer service business like us – you will live and die by the talent of your employees.
The second is our testimonials; it is the most rewarding part of our business. It proves that we can operate profitably while at the same time serving our customers.
15. What would you describe as your major setbacks and what lessons did you pick from them?
Early on with Crown & Caliber, we operated under the “if we build it, they will come” mentality. We built a great site, had an incredible team, and offered an awesome service. But all of that didn’t matter if people couldn’t find us. The element we were missing was PR/Marketing. We were confident that if people just knew about our service, the response would be massive. So we invested in PR/Marketing.
Just as we thought – customers came a-comin’. I think many entrepreneurs are so involved in the product or service; they fail to pay attention to the delivery of the message. You have to be seen (PR), you have to be found (SEO) and you have to advertise (PPC). This was a big failure of mine. Fortunately, crisis averted.
Another of our second biggest “problem” was actually fast growth. While it sounds strange, fast growth can kill a business. We had to adapt quickly – and it’s a good thing we did.
Hamilton has shared a lot in this interview, but just in case, he missed out something, what more would you like to know about the unusual Hamilton Powell?
You can ask him further questions below in the comment section and I will be sure that you will get an answer directly from him.
Also, what did you learn from this unusual entrepreneur? What lessons, what business philosophy of his strike you the most?
Hamilton has shared his unusual story with you, now is time to hear from you. Can’t wait to hear what you have to say!