We had the good fortune of connecting with Barruch Ben-Zekry and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Barruch, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I think of risk in terms of nesting odds and options. What is the chance that something happens and what are the options that stem from it should it come to pass? Thinking of risk in this way is a constant exercise for me and something that I apply to my everyday decision making.
I’m not exactly a risk-taker but I’m not exactly not a risk taker, either… I’m calculated not reckless. In general, I don’t take risks which I don’t understand and I’m very analytical so running through all the scenarios that could transpire and trying to work out probabilities against those is a common practice for me.
In my career, this has served me pretty well. In the corporate environment – in which I’ve spent much of my career – it has led me to be just enough ahead of business-as-usual to be thought of as an innovator while at the same time yielding results that are pragmatic. In the companies that I’ve started, it allows me to make bets – sometimes large ones – while never betting the farm (so to speak) on any one option without a pathway out, over or under.
What should our readers know about your business?
I’m the Founder of Out&Back – a vertical, managed marketplace for outdoor gear. We started Out&Back in 2019 to move secondhand outdoor gear from an afterthought to the forefront of outdoor shopping.
When it comes to buying gear, we’re very different than our competitors in this space. We allow customer to shop for new and used items from all over the internet at the same time on the same product pages. That means when you come to our site, you’ll feel like you’re shopping traditional ecommerce when in fact you may be looking at items that are coming from our warehouse in Denver, eBay, Poshmark or other inventory sources – everywhere at once. This means when you shop on our site you know you’re getting the best deal on your new or used item.
When it comes to selling, we’re quite different than our competitors too. Typically selling used gear on a secondary market like eBay or others like them takes time and effort to post an item and then a long wait to sell it. We make selling super easy giving our customers instant offers on the items they submit to us so that they can sell their stuff and move on with their lives.
Building this business wasn’t easy. There’s a very heavy technology component that underpins the ability for us to list items from multiple sources in the same experience as well as to give our customers instant offers. The engineering behind this is still a work in progress and has taken over a year to get it to the point it’s at now.
The big lesson that I’ve taken over the past year and half since we started on this business is to make sure to pull my head up every once in a while with the team and look back on what we’ve built. It is especially true with complicated engineering products like ours that you can get caught up in the day-to-day mire of the technical issue that you’re solving for and miss the big picture of what you’ve built. Our product today is super impressive and reminding ourselves of this while we work to make it even better is important.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Arrives Friday Afternoon: Hops and Pie for Dinner in Berkeley – order a large peperoni, sausage and banana peppers pizza and like 3 of their famously rare drafts each.
Head over to Feral a few doors down and check out their gear – new and used .
We’re going backcountry skiing. 6am drive up to Vail Pass and take three runs on the spine on the north-side of the freeway.
Bring everyone (including my two-year-old daughter) to the Denver. Zoo! Watching Sierra (her name) run around that place is worth the visit in and of itself.
Work in the morning and go for a lunch run in city park followed by lunch at Curtis Park Deli in Curtis Park. Get there before noon so they still have bread…
Work in the AM again but go for a mountain bike ride at Buffalo Creek off 285 near Pine, CO in the afternoon. On the way home stop off for dinner at Shake Shack in RiNo.
Wednesday & Thursday:
Head back up to the mountains and grab an Airbnb in Silverthorne for some quiet resort skiing before the weekend crowds. Stop in for a beer at Angry James Brewing right in town (best beer in the hills…).
Put that dude on the train back to the airport and chill for the rest of the weekend with my family.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My mom and dad! In the Bay Area where I grew up my parents owned a small chain of clothing stores and they taught me a ton about how to build something from scratch and hustle.