This is going to be a different kind of article with a unique perspective. As I type this story, I find myself penning an article from two distinct directions. You see, I created ComicRelated.com, the website you are currently visiting but I’ve recently joined the company I’m writing about. Here at CR, I’ve been contributing content and writing for over a decade as co-owner and CEO. Recently, I added a new hat to my life as I joined CompleteSet.com as their Business Development Manager. What I’m hoping to do today is play both roles… reporter and employee and take you behind the scenes for what promises to be a very interesting experience.
First let’s cover the basics of how the site works, then I’ll get to my more personal story. What is CompleteSet? Before I explain, let me kick a few photos (featuring some amazing collectors) into the article which will set the stage…
CompleteSet is about collecting. It’s nothing short of an ever-growing treasure map for collectors. What was once just a website is quickly evolving into a multi-faceted, curated, cross-platform resource. It begins by helping you track what you own. It then makes it easy to build visual “shelves” of what you want and, in the end, connects you with individuals who can complete your real life collections. Show what you have, find what you need, buy what you want. Game, Set and Complete!
Joining CompleteSet is easy. If you visit their starter page, you can join via Facebook, Twitter or an email address. Once inside, everything gets very visual, very quickly. You’re initially presented with recently curated items and given the ability to search and find things that interest you. Follow your passion and see what’s there. CompleteSet curates every entry so the graphics are eye popping.
Taking on a monumental task for their users, they’re working to archive the entire world of collecting, from present to the very deep past. The achieves are currently growing at a surprising rate each week across all manner of geekdom. Archivists are working daily (with increasing speed) alongside site users to chart a course through the world of collecting. As the welcome email explains, the site proves itself to be very responsive to user recommendations regarding where to go next. Don’t see what you collect? Let them know and watch as the site grows in your direction.
So how did this company take shape and where are they today? CompleteSet was founded by Gary Darna and Jaime Rump in 2012. A prototype (alpha version) of the site launched in September of that year. From there a beta version of the site jumped to life in May of 2013 and the current version 1.0 was unveiled in August of 2014. Mobile versions of the service are being finalized rapidly and the number of items housed within the site, featuring some of the best item images on the web, increases daily (and even hourly).
The company is based in Cincinnati, Ohio where the founders initially participated in The iNKUbator program at Northern Kentucky University and won the Cincinnati Innovates 2012 competition. They went on to rapidly raise $650,000 in a seed round of funding for year one and increased their staff from 2 to 8. I’m proud to say, I’m one of those 8.
Just last week the site registered an unprecedented number of new users as the service already celebrates thousands of members from 34 countries. The rate of sudden growth has been exciting as those who join regularly stay and become deeply invested in the community. In fact, users spiked the number of new collection items marked last week and that number continues to rise every seven days. This is quite a feat considering the 1.0 version of the service has only been online just over 4 months. Over that same time new archives were launched, a record number of new collectibles were curated and the rate of overall usage across the site climbs (you should see the graph). That rate of growth is an early success story and it shows little sign of slowing in the months to come.
So, how did I come to work for CompleteSet and what does that mean for me? Time to get a bit personal and share a bit more than I probably should (a proud tradition of mine).
I first met Gary Darna through the convention I own, Derby City Comic Con. He and his company were an exhibitor and his product intrigued me. Some time after our first meeting, he approached me for lunch to discuss ways in which CompleteSet could work my convention. During that meeting, Gary shared future plans which were not yet public and I was utterly floored by what he had in store for the site’s users. I don’t think I’m revealing too much when I say that CompleteSet, as you know it now, is just the tip of what is to come. When I heard the full story, I knew I wanted to be part of the company and explained to him how my skill set might benefit what he’s building.
A couple months later, once the company nailed down the first round of venture capital funding, he remembered our conversation and reached out to me about a series of positions he was creating. Originally considered for their community manager position, he felt my time would be better served working within the industry in support of what they are doing and his cofounder Jamie agreed. I joined CompleteSet as their Business Development Manager on January 6th, 2015.
I will say, quite honestly, that this is one of the most exciting positions I’ve ever held. The energy of this group is amazing and I find myself working on ideas regarding the site even during my off hours. I go to work and I’m surrounded by the entire staff each day. As ideas hit us, we can stop and meet, implementing changes in real time. The ability to be responsive to user needs is so present and quick I’m proud to be part of what we are building because we’re constantly evolving. In the end, this site is going to be a lot of fun for the entire community of collectors. There is a spirit here that we can do anything and, quite honestly, with in house programmers, dedicated archivists and a strong vision of the future, we can.
If you haven’t signed up, please do. I wish I could share more, but I will stake my name and reputation on the fact that you will not be disappointed. From my love and support of small press to my desire to build bridges with the world of collecting, CompleteSet is going to be a great place for those who love geekdom to call home. Join me there.