An interview with Scott Pauga, founder and CEO of Second Life Mac based in Skokie:
Q: Describe your business. What do you do?
Second Life Mac 7603 New Gross Point Road Skokie, IL 60077 (847) 376-2757 secondlifemac.com Owner: Scott Pauga Mumber of employees: 55 Year business started: 2015
A: Second Life Mac is an Apple-exclusive buyback company that partners with schools and enterprises to create sustainable technology budgets by purchasing their pre-owned Apple devices. Second Life Mac guarantees the highest payout price. The income organizations receive for their aging devices can be used to invest in new technology.
Q: What made you start your business?
A: Like many people, I left college with significant debt and I was determined to get rid of that debt quickly. I started selling refurbished electronics on Craigslist and then eBay, and my business was starting to gain traction. I soon noticed that the demand for refurbished Apple devices was huge and growing. Apple makes products that really retain their value, so it makes sense that there would be a strong demand for both new and refurbished devices. I saw the opportunity to purchase pre-owned Apple devices from schools and businesses, refurbish those devices, and then sell them via wholesale and retail channels.
Q: What has been the most difficult obstacle in running or starting a small business?
A: I think having the right people in place is crucial. With a fast growing company, it's tempting to hire people quickly to get a spot filled. Yet I've learned that it's really important to hire people who fit where your business will be two years from now. Those are the people who will help the company grow. It's also important to hire people who understand and share the company's vision and core values. This creates a solid foundation for future growth.
Q: What do you enjoy most about operating your business?
A: As with many early stage entrepreneurs, it wasn't that long ago when I was deeply ingrained in every process in the company. That's not sustainable, which is why I'm so focused on hiring and managing the right people. I really enjoy building and growing the team. I love challenging individuals, providing guidance but giving them space to find a solution, and watching them grow. I also enjoy telling the story about our company and what we are doing that's so different. Every time I relay our story to a customer, a peer or while networking I get reinvigorated.
Q: What is new in your industry?
A: Everything, literally! The industry itself is new. There are a lot of scrappy companies getting into the business because the barrier for entry is so low. Our goal now is to be creative in how we add value for our customers that goes beyond writing them a check for their devices. This includes providing leadership in educating and counseling our customers on how to get the most for their used devices.
• If you own a suburban small business and would like to be considered for this feature, contact Richard Klicki at firstname.lastname@example.org.