Gary Darna, founder of CompleteSet
, an online marketplace for collectibles, may be your new best friend, especially if you’ve always been looking for that Darth Vader cake pan
to round out your collection.
CompleteSet is an invite-only community that allows collectors and fans to showcase, discover and exchange curated collectibles from the popular to the obscure. The company was founded in 2012 by Darna and Jaime Rump and has since participated in Northern Kentucky University’s INKUBATOR
program and won the Cincinnati Innovates
competition in 2012.
What’s more is that Darna wasn’t following a trajectory to become an entrepreneur in the first place; he was supposed to attend West Point. But when circumstances intervened, Darna found himself starting a company at the age of 19.
“I fell into being an entrepreneur kind of by mistake and by necessity when I was medically disqualified from attending West Point,” Darna says. “I lost scholarships and had to find a way to pay for college myself. I figured I’d make websites for people.”
That’s exactly what he did, enrolling in the entrepreneurship program at NKU
and paying his way by creating websites for student clubs, small businesses, parents of friends and anyone else that came to him.
“At the time (in the early 2000s), websites weren’t as simple of a commodity as they are now,” Darna says. “It was like magic if you could make a website for people.”
As time went on, Darna learned more about the process of running a business, finding funding and more. He had been kicking around the idea for his collectibles website for several years, having started collecting Star Wars toys of his own in 1995.
“I applied to the INKUBATOR because I knew I needed a team to make my idea for CompleteSet a reality,” Darna says. “They helped me find my co-founder, Jaime, and they helped us challenge and refine our idea, build our team and then execute.”
“I think the best advice I’ve received has just been the importance of talking to your customer,” Darna says. “We attended a lot of fan conventions like Cincy Comicon
, Chicago’s C2E2
, and talked to people about how they collect, how much they spend a month, all types of market research info. It gave us invaluable insight into how to gear our company.”
After launching in September of 2012, the beta version of CompleteSet was launched in May of 2013. Currently, they are working on an iPhone application and are in the process of applying to different accelerators across the country.
CompleteSet has been nice enough to offer a way for Soapbox readers to join without requesting an invite; simply visit www.completeset.com/join and enter the code soapbox
By Mike Sarason