They’re here to collect

Tor­res­dale nat­ive Ad­ri­an “A.J.” D’An­gelo has worked in a bunch of dif­fer­ent fields over the years — re­tails sales and man­age­ment, in­sur­ance and in­vest­ment sales and Web site design and in­struc­tion.

D’An­gelo, though, was look­ing for something dif­fer­ent. He has an MBA from Drexel Uni­versity and be­lieves he has the busi­ness acu­men and man­age­ment skills to be a suc­cess­ful en­tre­pren­eur. He was also look­ing for something fun after work­ing long hours.

“I wanted to start a busi­ness,” he said. “I wanted to strike out on my own to see if I could get something go­ing.”

As he was pon­der­ing some ideas, he re­called a con­ver­sa­tion a dec­ade ago with a friend who col­lec­ted mem­or­ab­il­ia from the clas­sic rock band Led Zep­pelin. The friend men­tioned that he thought there were too many Web sites that fans had to ne­go­ti­ate to find Zep­pelin items.

“He said, ‘Why couldn’t there be one Web site to dis­play everything,’ ” D’An­gelo re­called.

Last year, D’An­gelo began to do some re­search. He learned that 94 mil­lion Amer­ic­ans col­lect com­ic books, ac­tion fig­ures, stamps, coins, sports mem­or­ab­il­ia and non-sports trad­ing cards.

“That’s a lot of people,” he said.

D’An­gelo’s idea was to cre­ate a site for col­lect­ors, but with an in­ter­act­ive so­cial net­work as­pect with the po­ten­tial to be the Face­book for col­lect­ors.

One key was to see how fo­cus groups would re­act.

“The concept we came up with, col­lect­ors loved it,” D’An­gelo said of the fo­cus group re­ac­tion. “It was just a concept at that point, but it totally val­id­ated what we were do­ing.”

Those fo­cus groups took place last Oc­to­ber.

Soon after, Nick Ren­zi came on board. He learned of D’An­gelo’s ven­ture through Face­book and Linked­In, but the two 45-year-olds first be­came friends back in fourth grade at Naz­areth Academy Grade School.

Ren­zi went to Fath­er Judge High School, while D’An­gelo headed to Arch­bish­op Ry­an, but they stayed in con­tact over the years. Ren­zi, whose back­ground is in mar­ket­ing, lives in Bustleton. D’An­gelo resides in Down­ing­town.

On April 20, the two busi­ness­man launched the Web site,

“We’re both in­ves­ted in this one hun­dred per­cent of the time,” D’An­gelo said. “This is what we’re con­cen­trat­ing on.”

As a way of spread­ing the word, they have been on the pop­u­lar Com­ic-Con cir­cuit, at­tend­ing con­ven­tions in Ana­heim, New York, Phil­adelphia, Har­ris­burg and Al­lentown. An­oth­er is sched­uled for Aug. 20 and 21 in Bal­timore.

The men tell col­lect­ors that their site is free. For now, col­lect­ors can up­load and dis­play items in a vir­tu­al book­shelf format, type in keywords and re­quest and send mes­sages to on-site friends.

The site doesn’t want to simply sign up mem­bers. It wants them to be act­ive. The busi­ness is also seek­ing in­vestors so it has the re­sources to mar­ket the site.

A large num­ber of mem­bers have signed up through the com­pany’s Face­book page.

“We’re pick­ing up mo­mentum,” D’An­gelo said.

In the near fu­ture, people will be able to buy, sell and trade. For­ums and chat rooms will be ad­ded.

“It’s go­ing to be very unique,” Ren­zi said. “What will put us over the top when it’s com­pleted is the so­cial net­work as­pect.”

The busi­ness plans to make money by selling on­line ad­vert­ise­ments. Users will also be able to ad­vert­ise. And pur­chases and trades will gen­er­ate rev­en­ue.

The en­tre­pren­eurs see great po­ten­tial. People col­lect all kinds of things. They know of a wo­man who loves hor­ror movie dolls and an­oth­er wo­man who col­lects sand from around the world.

The own­ers might also be cus­tom­ers. Ren­zi col­lects vin­tage gui­tars from 1985 and earli­er.

D’An­gelo col­lects LPs, CDs and DVDs, along with Star Wars cards and rare U2 paraphernalia. His wife Lisa looks for Ger­man cups and Hal­loween items.

“We’re open to any­thing that people col­lect,” D’An­gelo said. ••

Con­tact re­port­er Tom War­ing at 215-345-3034 or at twar­

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