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, www.mine.co

“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 twaring@bsmphilly.com