There will always be a need for the live auction experience, but most auction houses have sought out a way to give their sellers and buyers an online experience that fits their needs. That’s something Norman Finkelstein realized after three-plus decades working with auctioneers at plant machinery auctions, and he knew whom to call to help him establish a valuable service— his son. Scott Finkelstein grew up around the auction industry but established himself in a different industry, developing cutting-edge business software.
Based in Raleigh, NC, NextLot was established in 2007 after about a year in development. It has provided online solutions for more than 21,000 auctions to date, selling $20 billion-plus in assets.
“When the internet came around,” Finkelstein said, “(my dad) noticed a need to bring brick and mortar auctions online, but to do it in a way that auctioneers could retain their data and would be able to hold auctions on their own sites, so they didn’t have to share their most valuable asset with their competitors.”
Finkelstein knew how to make software easy to use for the average person, and with his dad’s auction industry background, they put their heads and skills together and NextLot was born.
They started with a prototype, never taking any outside money—just taking the bootstrap approach. But they did take advice from the people they knew in the industry. They asked the question: What do auction professionals want to see in an online platform that could help them improve their businesses?
“We focus-grouped it and showed it to a bunch of friends in the industry and started to get customers right away,” Finkelstein said. “We worked with auction companies to tweak the product and develop features that people thought would be valuable.
” One of the biggest differences between NextLot and competitors is that NextLot is a privately branded auction platform; the company doesn’t list customers’ auctions side-by-side with competitors on a public platform. Rather, clients use the platform to list their auctions on their own websites. This provides a branding advantage because the site platform is consistent with the design of the client’s website.
“We like to let them do what they do best,” Finkelstein said, “which is go out and find assets and sell them, and allow us to do what we do best, which is to run the technology for them in the background and take that burden off their head.”
Of course, much has changed since the company launched, most notably the use of mobile technology. Now, users spend more time on the internet using their mobile phones rather than laptops or desktops. NextLot developers began designing a platform that made their solution mobile responsive, which led to NextLot becoming the first to offer mobile bidding. The company also builds branded mobile apps to assist clients in enhancing brand identity.
“When we started,” Finkelstein noted, “there was no such thing as mobile bidding because phones couldn’t accommodate it. Today, two-thirds of our traffic comes off a mobile device.”
The evolution continues as NextLot develops its platform for people who want to build their brand, have ownership of valuable assets such as bidders and their data, and desire to run online auctions in a seamless and intuitive way, giving bidders a user experience they will truly enjoy. Furthermore, NextLot offers solutions that cover bidding, accounting, clerking and cataloging. Finkelstein said they can build software solutions for any aspect of the auction process that the client needs.
“We’ve brought a lot of innovations to the industry, and we’ve been the first to do so,” Finkelstein said. “We definitely have seen that the speed of technology has increased—we stay ahead of the curve and keep trying to push the industry forward.”
Check out all that NextLot can do at nextlot.com. Contact them at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
James Myers is a freelance writer in Oregon.
As seen in the "auctioneer" March 2019 publication