HUBX emerges as a distribution dynamo

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Derek Wall is an economic development director’s dream.

The serial entrepreneur founded and was CEO of BuyNow, a subsidiary of Buy.com that was sold to Japanese ecommerce giant Rakuten for $250 million. Now, Wall has moved to Miami from Southern California and started HUBX.

HUBX.com’s website says it provides access to hundreds of daily deals at or below wholesale prices for new and refurbished mobile phones, laptops, desktops, tablets and gaming devices.

The company ended its first year with $215 million in revenue, Wall says. It did so without any outside capital and it’s already profitable.

Wall is originally from Orange County, California, and grew up in a family in entrepreneurs. Despite battling dyslexia, he launched Ezekiel Clothing out of his house at age 19, his profile says. The surf and skate brand still is sold, nearly 30 years later, by top-tier retailers.

His profile ticks off other success stories: In 1996, he co-founded TechStore, one of the first online computer retailers. In 1999, he co-founded eMarketplace, a publicly held Silicon Valley internet software incubator, which acquired TechStore, giving them a combined value of $189 million.

After selling to Rakuten, Wall was founder and CEO of its Vault unit, which is described as the first online event-based fashion marketplace.

Wall says he started coming to Miami about four or five years ago after some friends moved here. He was intrigued by a fragmented tech community that has evolved rapidly.

“Honestly, it’s been 180 degrees from where it was, and I saw a huge opportunity—so many amazing founders and amazing startups that that weren’t being taken seriously,” he says.

Wall is finding a melting pot of great technical talent, including people from South America.

His company has more than 100 employees and recently acquired a 100,000-square-foot building near Miami International Airport that can store inventory. The merchandise comes via contracts with different manufacturers.

“We don’t outsource anything from a technology perspective. Everything’s built by our tech team here in Miami. We are a full-blown tech company. … We call our company as being like the United Nations. I really think we have employees from 18 different countries that work for us across 40 different languages, which is really cool.”

The cool factor also extends to his wife. Wall in 2018 married Lucy Clarkson, an English model who is known for being the official fourth model for the “Tomb Raider” video game series. They initially met at church and a gym. They have five children, ages 5-19.

Wall describes his business model as similar to Fulfillment by Amazon. In addition to HUBX holding merchandise, major distributors, vendors, refurbishers and manufacturers have consignment inventory that can be shipped within 24 hours.

An average order is $49,000. About 80 percent is shipped by air. About 70 percent of business is outside of North America, and HUBX shipped to 101 countries in its first year, he says. Developing nations are among its prime markets.

The advantage of HUBX’s business model to manufacturers is they don’t need to have blowout markdowns that can hurt margins, he says. Manufacturers also can decide where products are sold to avoid messing up their existing distribution channels. For example, a contract with Lenovo, which encompasses hundreds of thousands of computers a year, limits sales to North America. “If you’re a buyer in India, or if you’re a buyer in China, or you’re a buyer in Egypt, you will never see that product on our site, ever,” Wall says.

To develop the HUBX concept, Wall says he went to Harvard Business School and focused his studies on disruptive innovation.

“I wanted to do my next big deal around solving complex problems around distribution and understanding how you disrupt the old business industry, such as distribution. My final paper was essentially the thesis on what HUBX is today—about empowering manufacturers in secondary distribution.”

He finished the paper in August 2017 and incorporated HUBX in November of that year. It opened for business on May 1, 2018.

“We’re completely bootstrapped. It got no outside money, no loans, nothing, zero, zilch,” Wall says. “I’m a believer in really proving concepts before you actually go out to raise money.”

After turning down some of the biggest companies in the world as investors, Wall says he is starting to think about pulling the trigger on outside investment. However, it will have to be someone strategic, such as a venture capitalist with the right connections to take the company to the next level. “If they’re going to have skin in the game, they’re going to help us take it to a multibillion-dollar business model,” he says. ♦

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Drew Limsky

Drew Limsky



Drew Limsky joined Lifestyle Media Group in August 2020 as Editor-in-Chief of South Florida Business & Wealth. His first issue of SFBW, October 2020, heralded a reimagined structure, with new content categories and a slew of fresh visual themes. “As sort of a cross between Forbes and Robb Report, with a dash of GQ and Vogue,” Limsky says, “SFBW reflects South Florida’s increasingly sophisticated and dynamic business and cultural landscape.”

Limsky, an avid traveler, swimmer and film buff who holds a law degree and Ph.D. from New York University, likes to say, “I’m a doctor, but I can’t operate—except on your brand.” He wrote his dissertation on the nonfiction work of Joan Didion. Prior to that, Limsky received his B.A. in English, summa cum laude, from Emory University and earned his M.A. in literature at American University in connection with a Masters Scholar Award fellowship.

Limsky came to SFBW at the apex of a storied career in journalism and publishing that includes six previous lead editorial roles, including for some of the world’s best-known brands. He served as global editor-in-chief of Lexus magazine, founding editor-in-chief of custom lifestyle magazines for Cadillac and Holland America Line, and was the founding editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Interiors South Florida. He also was the executive editor for B2B magazines for Acura and Honda Financial Services, and he served as travel editor for Conde Nast. Magazines under Limsky’s editorship have garnered more than 75 industry awards.

He has also written for many of the country’s top newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, USA Today, Worth, Robb Report, Afar, Time Out New York, National Geographic Traveler, Men’s Journal, Ritz-Carlton, Elite Traveler, Florida Design, Metropolis and Architectural Digest Mexico. His other clients have included Four Seasons, Acqualina Resort & Residences, Yahoo!, American Airlines, Wynn, Douglas Elliman and Corcoran. As an adjunct assistant professor, Limsky has taught journalism, film and creative writing at the City University of New York, Pace University, American University and other colleges.