Southfield Digital Startup Links Buyers and Sellers with Local Pawn Shops


PawnGuru, a startup company in Southfield, is bringing the buying and selling of items at pawnshops online. The digital system allows consumers a chance to collect more competitive bids on their products.

David Stiebel and Jonathan Polter launched the online system to serve consumers that have a checking or savings account but rely on alternative financial services, such as non-bank money orders or pawnshops. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. estimates this under banked population includes 43 million adults and 21 million households.

Jordan Birnholtz, director of marketing at PawnGuru, says either people looking to sell an item through a pawn shop, or people looking to buy an item from a pawn shop virtually, can log on to the website at no cost.

“(The consumer) takes a picture of (the item), writes a description from their phone or desktop, and that item goes out to all of the pawn shops near them,” Birnholtz says. “What that allows is the person selling the item can receive competing offers from local pawn shops.”

He says common products on the website include electronics, Apple products, and cars.

So far, more than 1,000 pawnshops sign up for the service. The majority of the shops are in Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, and metro Detroit. The company plans to have 3,000 to 4,000 shops sign up in the next 18 to 24 months.

PawnGuru is in the process of raising capital, and is working on making it possible for pawnshops to deliver items on the same day.

“(PawnGuru) is giving the consumer power in a situation where they otherwise don’t (have much control),” Birnholtz says.