Wow, it’s been a long road, but I’ve finally got GoCollect launched! We’re currently in an invite-only, private beta, but we’re live none the less. With that, I figured it’s best to begin blogging where we’re at, where we’re going and so on. So in this first post, I’m going to give you a little background…
The idea for GoCollect started back about 6 years ago, but the insiration came long before that. At the age of 8, I got hooked on baseball cards. It wasn’t the baseball aspect that hooked me, but the fact that they held values that regularly fluctuated. To me, baseball cards were like stock certificates for kids. I thrived on buying, selling and trading them with friends, shops and dealers at shows. I couldn’t get enough. My passion grew to all sorts of sports cards and eventually drifted into comic books too. Once I started searching for cards and comics in antique stores, the bigger picture began emerging. It wasn’t long before I began collecting just about anything I felt like I could someday resell (or trade) with someone else for a tidy profit. In high school I opened my first storefront with a friend. He handled the cards and I did the comics. We were 15 years old and, quite frankly, had no idea what we were doing. My family moved out of the area and I sold my portion of the store to my partner. It was my understanding that the doors closed there about 6 months later. By that time, I was living in central Florida and had begun touring the state on the weekends setting up as a dealer at any card/comic show within a 100 mile radius. It was fun and fairly lucrative for a teenager. But I eventually went off to college and so ended my adventures with cards and comics.
Fast forward a few years. My grandparents owned a very successful collectibles store in the Chicago area and asked me to come manage it for them. I agreed, because I was convinced retail was my calling. But within about 6 months, I changed my tune. This was back in 2000 and the retail collectibles market was getting crushed by eBay. The store was sitting on about $100,000 of stale inventory and I turned to eBay to move it. Although I didn’t enjoy the nightmare that shipping became, I thrived on how the Internet was going to change the ballgame. Soon thereafter, I decided to go back to college and pursue a degree in Information and Decision Sciences. I felt the degree would give me a solid footing in 3 areas: programming, operations management and statistics. I quickly discovered that if I wanted to be an ace programmer I would have to do it on my own. Technology (IMHO) moves to fast to learn things at a 4 month pace for individual topics.
Fast forward a couple more years. I got my degree and was making a decent living creating custom web environments for a handful of my own clients. They were mostly intranets for small companies, but those projects exposed me to what it takes to use and adapt to technologies at a rapid pace. And once I had developed a pretty strong foothold in database design and web interaction, my thoughts began drifting back to collectibles. I had the (very basic then) idea for GoCollect and decided to give it go. I didn’t want to take on every type of collectible at once, so I decided to create a simplified test site that focused on one small niche collectible: Patricia Breen Ornaments. I got quite the education in just what it takes to please collectors and it was no small task. About 6 months after that site launched I decided to step into the next stage and began building OmniCollect. After about 3 weeks of development there, I had a working system (a simplified, stripped down, archive-only version of what GoCollect is today). And within about another 2 weeks, I realized it was simply too big of a task to take on by myself. My biggest hurdle was finding people to use it. No one was interested without there being some sort of archive started in the different collectible lines. I got frustrated with the project as a whole and decided to shelve it. By that time I already owned multiple (small) online businesses and shifted my focus elsewhere.
Fast forward a few more years. I found out that the largest online collectibles retailer had filed for bankruptcy and the domain name they had used was coming up as a dead page. I contacted the owner of the domain who happened to be the former CEO of the then defunct company and after about a year’s worth of negotiation I acquired the domain gocollect.com back in October/November of 2010.
The programming landscape is quite a bit different today than it was 5 years ago when I shelved OmniCollect. Rapid application development for the web has become a reality and I felt that I could get back on track with the combination of a unique idea, a very well-seasoned programming background and a name that the collectible community may already recognize. And although I don’t plan on being a one-man show with this company for very long, I was able to realize my concept and take it live. For mostly nostalgic reasons, I decided to launch with a single collectible line: Patricia Breen Ornaments. At the time of this writing only members of the original concept site (which still thrives today, by the way) have received invitations to try out the new system. However, within the next few weeks, I’ll be opening up GoCollect to many more collectible lines. And I hope that over the next couple years GoCollect will become a go-to resource to research, buy, sell and trades amongst a wide number of antique and collectible communities. Collecting is a social commerce environment that requires an abundance of knowledge, resources and connections with other collectors to make the most of your passion. GoCollect aims to be the online tool that delivers on all of those points and more.