Entrepreneurial

Blind entrepreneurs boost eBay sales

EBay is recruiting an unlikely group of new entrepreneurs into its selling ranks – the visually impaired.

Blind citizens have staggeringly high rates of unemployment, with some 70 percent of working-age, legally blind adults out of work, according to the National Federation of the Blind.

So the online marketplace, in partnership with NFB, began recruiting test sellers in the blind community late last year. In February, it began a pilot program with 15 blind entrepreneurs. In total, they have sold more than 2,100 items, including everything from packing tape to clothing and makeup.

“We have a commitment to making our pages accessible,” said Jonas Klink, senior product manager of accessibility for San Jose, California-based eBay. The company was also the title sponsor at NFB’s national convention in July.

“These 15 pilot program participants have been selling above and beyond even the majority of our sighted community,” said Klink, adding that word has spread through the blind community. “A number have become top-rated sellers.”

Angel investor makes a Mint

From right to left: Dave McClure with Rob Hayes and Mark Goines at TechCrunch50, courtesy of Dave McClure

At 5-foot-8, Dave McClure calls himself “one of the smallest” venture capitalists in Silicon Valley, either “by height or by wallet size”.  But he was walking tall after Intuit announced it was buying Mint.com recently for $170 million.

That means McClure, who invested $25,000 in Mint two years ago as part of a Series A funding round, is in line for a healthy payout. At the time McClure was actually on Mint’s payroll as a consultant, but was so impressed with the startup’s founder, Aaron Patzer, that he took the money they were paying him and “turned it right back around and wrote them a check.”

  •