This article was originally published in the Cincinnati Business Courier. To hear The Collectors Show go to Web Talk Radio (www.webtalkradio.net) or iTunes.
A Cincinnati startup website that aims to build a catalog and marketplace for every collectible item ever made has hauled in its first round of outside financing.
CompleteSet raised $650,000 in seed-round capital last week, company co-founder Gary Darna told me on Monday. CompleteSet, now based downtown in startup accelerator Cintrifuse’s space, got the money from a group of investors. Doug Cobb, a Louisville investor who is co-founder of venture capital firm Chrysalis Ventures, led the CompleteSet funding. Cherub Fund, based in Lexington, also invested. Several other individuals who Darna described as angel capital investors, mainly from the Louisville area, participated in the investment, too.
“It was a long process,” Darna said of getting the capital.
CompleteSet will use the money for product development, hiring new people and boosting its marketing efforts. It has five employees now, but Darna expects that to grow to 12 early next year. He and co-founder Jamie Rump plan to hire several web developers and an archivist who will create content and write about the collectibles for CompleteSet’s website.
CompleteSet launched in 2012 when it joined Inkubator. It was part of the first class of entrepreneurs to graduate from Northern Kentucky University’s Inkubator program. The company launched its first product in September, taking it from the beta testing phase to being available to the public. It’s now generating revenue, Darna said.
Members sign up for free on CompleteSet’s website and enter their collectibles. The company generates revenue by taking a transaction fee of 6 percent whenever an item is bought on the site. It already has members from 34 countries and has catalogued more than 100,000 collectibles.
That might sound like an incredible amount, but Darna points out that the Star Wars franchise has generated more than 400,000 unique collectible items since it began in 1977.
Darna and Rump had been seeking capital for a while, but they had a breakthrough in raising money when they took part in the Velocity startup accelerator program in Southern Indiana, near Louisville, this summer. The company graduated from that 100-day program in late September and investor interest was piqued.
“We met a number of investors through that program, and many were from the Louisville area,” Darna said. “The process moved pretty quickly from there.”
The move to Cintrifuse gives the company its first office. The five employees had been working out of their homes and meeting at coffee shops and other spots, “anywhere that had Internet access,” Darna said.