Look out Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, here comes Corey Kossack!
Okay, so the 23-year-old Tempe entrepreneur may have a long way to go before he catches up and passes the two investors who are among world’s wealthiest, but he’s off to a good start, most people agree.
Kossack, a recent Arizona State University graduate, formed a company that in less than two years has sold more than $1 million worth of products on eBay.
And, his computer-based company, Koss DVD, is projecting sales to reach more than $3 million this year with steady, 10 percent sales increases each year for the next five years.
The youthful and energetic Kossack has also produced a computer software program and written a book, both aimed at helping eBay sellers make money, a lot of money — just as he is doing.
The book, “eBay Millionaire or Bust: Hidden Strategies That Maximize Profits and Create Wealth,” explains his methods for making a profit on the Internet site that attracts millions of visitors, both buyers and about 1.3 million sellers globally and has reported gross sales of more than $4 billion a year.
“But, it’s not about the money,” Kossack quickly points out as he sits at his “work desk” — a round table near an electric outlet at Starbucks at Mill Avenue and Fifth Street in downtown Tempe.
His laptop — the heart of his company — is plugged into the wall and the table is only a few steps from the coffee counter.
“It’s about being creative,” he said, then sips his favorite cappuccino. “And taking control of your life.”
“There’s not enough money in the world to make you want to work this hard,” said Kossack, who figures he works more than 80 hours a week.
A Tucson native who moved to the Valley in 2002 to attend ASU, Kossack said his creative moment, or “flashing light bulb,” came while the thensophomore was sitting in his dorm and searching eBay for a memory disk for a digital camera for his girlfriend.
“I had always thought of eBay as the online yard sale, a place where people got rid of their junk,” he said. “Then, I spotted someone selling hundreds of memory cards and I suddenly realized eBay was a perfect place to conduct a business.”
The sudden combination of years of listening to his father, Alan Kossack, a longtime financial adviser talking about business and investment skills, hours upon hours of computer training in high school and at college and the challenge of breaking new ground sparked the start of a new venture — Koss DVDs.
“I decided I would sell DVDs on eBay, but that decision was only the beginning,” Kossack said. “I needed a plan.” He also needed venture capital so he took $1,000 from his saving account for a starter.
He jotted dozens of ideas — the old-fashioned way, with a pen on paper — then connected with another student who began putting the data together in a software package that eventually became profitbuildersoftware.com.
Meanwhile, Kossack and his mother, Stephanie, a financial planner, formed a partnership, and launched the eBay sales company officially in January 2005 that resulted in the sale of more than 500,000 DVDs by the end of the year.
He hired a company to deliver the orders and several friends, including a former ASU student who works from her current home in Colombia, South America in “Customer Service” via a laptop computer, to process online orders.
At first, their product line numbered 1,000 DVD titles, but gradually expanded to 10,000 titles as well as added video games and iPod accessories. He became one of eBay’s Top Sellers.
“Some of our most popular TV shows were ‘M.A.S.H.’ and ‘Sex and the City,” said Kossack. Another big favorite is “Schoolhouse Rock,” a collection of animated educational TV spots for children.
Kossack combined the information from his successful eBay enterprise into a book, which sells for $16.95 and a Web site, www.profitbuildersoft ware.com where visitors, for $19.99 a month or $97 a year, can learn how to make profits on eBay.The book hit stores in February and has since sold more than 1,200 copies. The Web site opened in March.
As a result of his success, Kossack was invited to speak at an eBay convention in Las Vegas in June to more than 1,400 sellers. His speech apparently was also successful because he was later asked to help train the site’s managers.
The ASU graduate attributes his achievements to several of his college mentors, including Peter Burns III, entrepreneur in residence at Grand Canyon University and Joan Koerber-Walker, CEO of the Arizona Small Business Association.
Koerber-Walker helped Kossack get his book published and said: “His book shows he had a keen business sense. His natural instincts are good,” said Burns, who leads the 700-member Club Entrepreneur at Grand Canyon University.
His secret of success? “Focus on profits, not the number of sales. I don’t want to become the biggest seller on eBay. But I want to continue increasing our profit margin. That’s the secret.”
Family: Parents, Alan and Stephanie Kossack of Tucson; brothers, Kevin, 30 and Casey, 26
Occupation: Founder, president and co-owner with his mother of Koss DVD, a company that primarily sells DVDs containing movies and television shows and video games on eBay
Key Achievements: As a student at Arizona State University, Kossack began putting together a software program and book for sellers on eBay, “eBay Millionaire or Bust: Hidden Strategies That Maximize Profits and Create Wealth,” giving them advice and information on how to make profits; his computer-based company, meanwhile, made more than $1 million in sales since 2005 and is one of the Internet auction site’s top 200 sellers. His company is projecting more than $3 million in sales this year. He has since become a sought-after speaker at national eBay conventions and local entrepreneur groups, including being a co-founder and president of Club Entrepreneur, a Valley-based organization for new and aspiring young entrepreneurs that meets monthly
Background: Graduated from ASU in December 2006 with a degree in Computer Information Systems and is currently attending Grand Canyon University’s College of Entrepreneurship while directing his sales company on the Internet
Philosophy for success:
“Condidence and determination will help you do anything ... no matter what anyone tells you.” - Corey Kossack