Over the next few weeks, we’ll be interviewing the companies in the third cohort of Velocity Indiana’s 100-day accelerator program. Some of the companies are familiar, operated by people whose names you’ve seen on IL regularly. Some are local but have either flown under the radar or are just starting out. And others are from across the country and, yes, across the sea. First up was Soccer Sidekick. Today it’s CompleteSet.
Gary Darna, CEO of CompleteSet, described his company as “Kayak.com for collectibles.” It’s a web and mobile platform that lets collectors search across multiple e-commerce sites like Amazon and eBay and in the CompleteSet archives for pop culture collectibles they covet.
Let’s say you collect vintage Barbie stuff, and you really have your heart set on owning a 1979 Barbie Dreamhouse because that’s the one you had when you were a kid. You can go on CompleteSet, click on the Barbie category (the site looks a lot like Pinterest), find the Dreamhouse and search for where you can buy it (in this case, I found one on eBay for $120). If you can’t find it for sale, you can click on the “want it” button and let people — potential sellers — know that you need this toy.
“All collectors have this problem,” said Darna, “looking for things you want to own and missing out on the thing that you wanted because you didn’t know it was for sale.”
CompleteSet is already very active even though the site is currently invite-only. The site has hundreds of thousands of items, 4,000 members across 30 countries, and has facilitated more than $19,000 in sales. There’s a waiting list to get on the site. The company charges “finder’s fees” to sales between individuals on the site and earns affiliate fees from e-commerce sites. These fees increase the more business CompleteSet sends their way.
Each category of collectible — there are familiar names like Marvel, Doctor Who and Star Wars as well as names I’ve never heard of like M.U.S.C.L.E and Johnny Cupcakes — is curated by a volunteer expert. People upload their collections and earn points for every item they add to the archives. If you’re interested in selling pieces from your collection, you can search to see if anyone in the community wants it, set a price or mark the item “make an offer.”
Darna started collecting Star Wars stuff when he was a kid and started making websites in high school. So, CompleteSet exists at the intersection of his interests. He graduated from Northern Kentucky University with a bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship and then entered the first class at NKU’s INKUBATOR program, which is a small-business incubator for NKU grads and students. It was there that he met his future chief technology officer, Jaime Rump, who was still a student at the time. Rump graduated this past May with a bachelor’s in computer science.
The company operates out of Cincinnati. In 2012, CompleteSet was a winner of the Cincinnati Innovates contest and received a $10,000 Imagining Grant from CincyTech.
When I asked Darna what he wanted to get out of the Velocity accelerator program, he said he’s hoping to learn how to raise money to expedite and mentorship about how to pace that growth.
And yes, “He who dies with the most toys wins” is the company tag line. With CompleteSet the only limit to the word “most” might end up being your pocketbook.