As the founder and CEO of a rapidly growing social, e-commerce platform for communities of collectors, Bill Jones is a bit of an enigma. He’s not a collector.
In fact, the idea for CollectorDASH arose during a casual conversation with an old college buddy, one who happened to be an avid Coke bottle collector.
“What struck me was how horribly inefficient collecting is – the state of the market technology is eBay and Excel,” said Jones, a seasoned Atlanta entrepreneur with 25 years of experience in product management design and marketing. “Whether you collect dolls, paperweights or action figures, your needs are very similar and largely unmet. We leverage our software investment across collector groups, and by doing that, we stimulate the entire hobby. Sellers, manufacturers and licensors love our approach.”
Intrigued by the potential to tap into the massive, multi-billion dollar hobby community, Jones began researching the market to address collectors’ pains. In fall 2010, “DASH” was unveiled, providing its first community – www.Collector-ActionFigures.com – with a better way to manage, value, share, buy, sell and trade their collectible action figures. Available both from the web and mobile phones, DASH has been a big hit with more than 13,500 registered users representing over half a million items in their collections. More recently, CollectorDASH launched a second site built off of its platform, this time for the model train collecting community (www.Collector-ModelTrains.com).
“We provide an integrated experience for collectors’ needs,” said Jones. “Our platform delivers a ‘one-stop-shop’ experience for collectors, enabling additional revenue streams and an opportunity for a much deeper, lifetime customer relationship for dealers, manufacturers and licensees of collectible items.”
Collectors and investors both seem to agree, with accolades for the young ATDC member company beginning to trickle in. Earlier this month, CollectorDASH won the Technology Association of Georgia’s 2012 TAG Business Launch Competition, earning $50,000 in cash and more than $200,000 in donated services from the local business community. The competition – which was decided by a panel of venture capital judges – aims to identify the most promising high-tech startup in Georgia. Shortly before that, the Flashpoint graduate also won 151 Locust’s Mobile Pitch Playoffs.
With an innovative go-to-market strategy and a product boasting significant and proven user engagement, CollectorDASH’s three-person team is looking forward to a successful future – one that could entail products covering dozens of different collectible categories. A financing round led by Atlanta Technology Angels is set to close soon, which could accelerate the company’s growth even further.
“We’re focused on hyper-passionate consumers that are overlooked by today’s technology companies,” said Jones. “When you study it, you realize that by nailing a great user experience especially for collector communities, you can leverage your platform to serve deceptively huge markets. We took a creative idea and applied professional software to create a really compelling business. We’re making the world of collecting much more efficient and fun and that creates business opportunities.”