NostoNews, March 1, 2006
by Tommy Jasmin
Little Engine that Could
As Nostomania quietly closes in on five years old this summer, I started thinking, "That's actually pretty long in web-years". Not so long that I can't remember all the little milestones though. Our first 100 registered users. Our first user-Salelist to user-Wantlist match. Then later came bigger milestones. One million items tracked in the database. 25,000 registered users. I'm looking forward to seeing what comes down the road the next five years.
It hasn't been an easy five years. We had to sit by and watch as competitors like WizardWorld.com got Venture Capital funding, while our little company, struggling to get noticed, got nothing. But we also sat by and watched while many of those companies burned through all that funding and went out of business, leaving some pretty pissed-off collectors (not to mention investors). We started to realize Nosto was better off being a grassroots effort. Sure, growth is slower, and it takes us longer to roll out new features, but the upside is we are in no danger of going away. This is a great feeling knowing we'll be around for a long time to support our growing group of loyal users. Being longtime collectors ourselves, all we ever wanted was some quality data and tools to be made available to all collectors.
We knew the high-end markets for all collectible types can be fairly insular clubs. But early on we thought we had to try to become a part of the club. We thought we'd better partner with St. Martin's Press, who published the Red Book, the bible for coin pricing. But they had no interest in working together unless we first put some serious cash on the table. We sent a letter to Steve Geppi of Diamond Publishing, which puts out the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, asking if we could visit him in Timonium on our dime and show what we could do and why we'd like to work together with them. Never heard a direct response, but the silence told us their answer. I spoke with Chuck Rozanski of Mile High Comics, in person at Comic-Con International, asking him to share his sales data with us. Since he already provided it to Overstreet at no charge, it seemed like a reasonable request to make. Follow-ups were ignored, not even a polite "sorry, no".
So what could we do? We had collector mentalities. We could program computers. We understood web-based systems and databases, and knew that the best thing for collectors would be something that as yet didn't exist - pricing data that is generated by actual sales, not simply made up. But since we were putting this on a web site, why not create some of the other stuff we've always wanted, like free collection tracking and automatic notifications when something turns up that matches an item on our want lists. And to be fair, there were a few bigwigs who turned out to be really nice guys and helped us out with advice and data. Some of those folks can be seen on our Advisors page. We also have been lucky to have a great set of advertisers on Nosto, both those that have been with us from the beginning and those that just joined recently.
Now it's true, we realize nothing is free and with a little money flowing in we could stay true to our promises but also push forward with the countless other great ideas we had that would benefit collectors. So we came up with a Premium Subscription for registered users, as well as the free Basic Account. We're not ignoring the Basic users, but the Premium subscribers will always be the first to get their hands on the new stuff. Here's how we hope you look at it: at a mere $2.99 per month, it's a modest gesture on your part that when multiplied by a good number of your fellow users, will go a long way toward keeping this little engine chugging along.
A big thanks to you members who have been around since 2001 and patiently hung around while we built and improved the system - yes, we know who you are and we appreciate it very much. But we appreciate registered user numbers 30,000 and up just as much - thanks for trying us out, and I hope you members will be reading an old-timer "thank you" from me in another five years.
Don't forget, all you have to do is create a single Collection, Wantlist, or Salelist item during the appropriate month to qualify for our sweepstakes. Why not take a look and see what we're giving away (and gave away last month), free as always.
Thanks, we'll see you all next month.
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