The granddaddy of all venture capital funds, Bessemer Venture Partners, keeps a tally of the mega-successes it passed on in a list known as the Anti-Portfolio. In it, renowned VC David Cowan is attributed for passing up on eBay:
“Stamps? Coins? Comic books? You’ve GOT to be kidding,” thought Cowan. “No-brainer pass.”
Good news David, lightening may in fact strike twice for you because here’s your chance to invest in Colnect, a community site for collectors of coins, banknotes, stamps, phone cards and bottle caps. And no, I’m NOT kidding at all.
Colnect (Collect+Connect) is a collector’s community site that assists its users to organize, share, trade and sell their collectables. There are no fancy algorithms, the UI is modest—old school some may argue—and it’s literally a one-man show having been founded, coded and operated by 29-year-old Amir Wald. He’s still the only employee(!)
The core of Colnect is a community driven wiki where Contributors add content (collectibles), Editors make changes to existing items, and Coordinators supervise content contributions and provide permissions to Editors. Wald also employed crowd-sourcing to translate the site to 35 languages.
Colnect’s catalogs currently encompass 158K phone cards, 68K stamps, 15K coins, 15K banknotes and 5k bottle caps. Users have marked 11M items so far: 6.6M collectibles in wish lists, 4M in collections, and another 800K in swap lists. Wald tells me that in the last month alone over 650,000 items were marked in the system. He plans on continuously adding categories, with upcoming candidates being PEZ dispensers, Kinder Surprise toys, baseball cards, and waif for it—barf bags. Different strokes for different folks I guess.
Part of Colnect’s charm is that it really doesn’t try to impress you, it just aims to provide basic but critical utilities for collectors of mass-produced collectibles. Collectors can easily manage their inventory with personal collection, swap list and wish list management tools. There’s also auto-matching between collectors’ inventory and wish/swap lists (huge time saver I’m told). Then of course there are the run of the mill social features such as personal profiles, ratings, friends and private messages. These are all on top of the actual catalogs which are continuously updated and therefore a godsend to collectors.
All trades on Colnect are currently free of charge for now. There is however a premium membership option starting at just over $6 per month with the purchase of a one year subscription. Benefits include Custom Personal Lists, Premium Member Highlighting which helps member profiles and their items stand out, and the removal of ads across the site (AdSense and eBay ads are plastered everywhere).
So there you have it Mr. Cowan, your second opportunity to invest in stamps, coins and barf bags.