Are you a stamp, postcard or comic book connoisseur? Raleigh-based Hip eCommerce provides just the place to search for millions of listings of these items.
Hip eCommerce CEO and Founder Mark Rosenberg, a comic book collector himself, became inspired to create Hip eCommerce in January 2016. Rosenberg had previously created and sold the collectible site bidStart to UK-based stamps and collectibles company Stanley Gibbons, which he has now reacquired.
For his second go-round in the space, Rosenberg wanted to create marketplaces specifically catered to different types of collectibles. So he first launched HipComic.com under the Hip eCommerce umbrella, and within a year it was joined by HipStamp.com and HipPostcard.com.
“If you try to make just a marketplace for collectibles, it just is really generic and you basically kind of create a watered-down version of eBay,” Rosenberg said. “So my whole idea was to build specific marketplaces for specific collectibles. That way everything about the browser search experience and everything about the entire business can be built from the ground up, to really cater to that specific kind of collectible. And I thought we could be able to provide a really exceptional experience for buyers and sellers.”
Hip eCommerce hit $400K GMV (“gross merchandise volume” on the platform) per month by December 2017, enabling it to raise $500K led by top angel investor Fabrice Grinda of New York-based FJ Labs last April. Hip eCommerce now has an annualized GMV of more than $15M and annualized revenue of $1M, and is currently closing a Seed B round of $995K. Rosenberg will use the funds to hire for six new positions to add to his seven full-time employee team and move from the pool house behind his Raleigh home to the co-working space Industrious in downtown Raleigh.
While he’ll now be working a little further from home, Hip eCommerce’s products have always been close to his heart.
“Collectibles are really, really personal,” Rosenberg said. “When people collect something, it’s not like they’re buying a fridge or a TV or something for use. The whole idea of collectibles is something that you’re buying because it really has no other value than because you want to have it and collect it. So we definitely have a really passionate user base, both from the buyer side and the seller side.”
This collectible passion has led to Rosenberg meeting many interesting characters along the way. Rosenberg said he remembers one stamp seller sent him an email upon finding out she had stage 4 pancreatic cancer because her first thought was about what would happen to her Hip eCommerce store and wanted Rosenberg to explain how her sister could take it over.
The personal marketplaces Rosenberg has created through HipStamp, HipPostcard and HipComic also have the unique touch of Rosenberg’s wife.
“My wife and I were at the movies and we were trying to think of different logos,” Rosenberg said. “And she was describing what she thought our logo should look like and she drew it on a napkin and I was like, that’s awesome!”
Moving forward, Rosenberg hopes Hip eCommerce can incorporate the offline market, including the majority of collectibles which are sold in auction houses or other venues.
“We definitely want to build a better marketplace, which we’re doing,” Rosenberg said. “And we want to appeal to specific collectors. But then we’re also looking at, how can we also get more of that offline market?”
Rosenberg said there’s a lot of room to grow within their current categories and also potentially to expand to collectible coins, sports cards and memorabilia, and other collectibles.
“As far as making an impact,” Rosenberg says, “we want to deliver a marketplace that is a really exceptional experience for people and helps them to find what they’re looking for. My ultimate goal would be at the end of the day knowing every collectible out there, where it is, who has it and who wants it—and being able to bring them together.”