We recently had the chance to talk with Gene Miguel, Co-founder of Shortboxed, a modern app designed to make buying and selling comics easier and safer for everyone. He gave us some insight into building Shortboxed, along with some sneak peeks of what they’re working on next.
Every collector knows the frustration of making an online sale for a much-desired comic only to be disappointed at what arrives in the mail, if anything at all. Then, there’s the stream of endless website directions involving countless clicks before you get to the checkout when attempting to make a purchase. Some popular buying and selling platforms were created decades ago and have seen little modernization since. Additionally, some platforms are virtually impossible to use on a mobile device. Comic collectors want to know that what they’re buying is what they will receive, and comic sellers want to make their transactions quickly and move on. Most importantly, both sides want to feel protected.
Enter Gene Miguel and BJ Abordo, the Co-Founders of Shortboxed.
What is Shortboxed?
Here at GoCollect, we’re fans of anything that aligns with our goal of making collecting better. So how does Shortboxed do that, and what makes it different from other comic-selling platforms?
Shortboxed is a mobile app for buying and selling graded comics. There are currently tens of thousands of users and over 10,000 books for sale on Shortboxed, with hundreds of books listed every day. According to Gene, Shortboxed is currently the easiest and safest place to buy and sell graded comic books, and it hasn’t made that achievement without a lot of insight and effort.
But how did they get started?
The Shortboxed Origin Story
Gene’s lifelong collecting journey began when he was introduced to comic books as a child. He’d steal his older brother’s books and run away with them, falling in love with the art, stories, and characters along the way. Collecting is something that has been ingrained in his life for as long as he can remember.
About a decade ago, Gene and his close childhood friend and fellow lifelong collector, BJ Abordo, ( Shortboxed CTO & Co-founder,) decided to upgrade their enjoyable hobby into a profitable one. They began hitting the convention circuit and soon found themselves looking for ways to connect with the collecting community outside of the convention center. Thus, the Shortboxed Blog was born.
Shortboxed: The Community
Shortboxed came to life as a blog almost ten years ago. Through this blog, Gene and BJ connected with the comic book community through social media. Social media friends would become real-life friends, and the Shortboxed online presence would launch itself into the midst of a thriving network of sellers and collectors.
Soon, they found themselves adding the role of Comic Book Dealer to their resumes. They spent a great deal of time traveling from con to con, meeting the greatest dealers and collectors all around the country. In addition to face-to-face trading, they bought and sold on every online platform you could imagine. Along with their peers, they found themselves frequently complaining about the inconveniences they dealt with during online sales. With the rampant fraud, the scams, and antiquated platforms and websites; it was very frustrating that there wasn’t yet an easy, safe way to buy and sell comic books. Why wasn’t there an alternative? Gene and BJ definitely weren’t the only people who thought that way; they picked up on that very quickly. It was clear that there was a strong desire from collectors for something totally new.
If You Build It…
The lightbulb went off.
Gene and BJ began to ask themselves questions; ‘What would our ideal platform look like?’ ‘If we were going to just start from scratch, what would WE want for ourselves?’ Then, they began answering.
Gene and BJ each had experience working in Silicon Valley for large tech companies like Apple and Yahoo, and fast-growing startups like Twilio. They decided to combine their technical knowledge with their passion for collecting to produce an app designed to make buying and selling comics simple and safe. According to Gene, the thought process was ‘if not us, then who?
They decided to take what they’d learned and build the platform they wished existed. The relationships they’d made with the collecting community proved valuable, as they found strong support for their mission. They knew they’d want to be able to browse, buy, and sell on mobile. Others agreed, resulting in Shortboxed becoming the fastest-growing comic book marketplace today.
“We designed our mobile app to be incredibly intuitive and user-friendly; it’s super easy for anyone to buy and sell with the touch of a button.” Gene and BJ wanted to get the books right in front of the collectors’ eyes, putting the focus where it should be – on the art.
Ready to Change with the Times
From the start, the goal of Shortboxed has been to create a totally new and unique platform, and that’s a process that will never quite be finished. Implementing feedback from their users, the creators are constantly updating and adding new features.
According to Gene, “It’s an ongoing process. Nothing is ever done. We’re adding new features every couple of weeks… We know that what the app looks like today is different than what it looked like a year ago, and what it looks like a year from now will be different than what it looks like today.” Both Gene and BJ are committed to changing alongside the ever-shifting industry.
The Future of Shortboxed
When tapped to give us some insight as to what new features are currently in the works, Gene let us know that they’re constantly working on ways to make the site even faster and easier to use. Specifically, they’re excited to launch in-app real-time notifications, pricing and census data, faster seller payouts, and saved searches to help you watch your favorite books more conveniently. The team is also working on a redesign of the app. This will improve the user experience and bring even more features to the platform.
“We know that people want the best chance to score the book they want, so having the real-time knowledge that a bid has been upped is imperative. We’ll also be rolling out saved searches. Most people have their eyes on certain books. With saved searches, you won’t have to scroll through a whole list every time you want to check your bid.”
Shortboxed also just announced that they raised $2.15 million in seed funding to connect even more collectors together around their common passion. Funding was led by some well-known VC firms, as well as individual investments from folks like Eddy Lu (founder of GOAT), Maynard Wedd (former COO of eBay), Dinesh Shamdasani (former CEO of Valiant Entertainment), Anne Wojcicki (founder of 23andme), and many other notable investors.
Funding will be used to make key strategic hires across engineering, operations, and marketing to build a more robust platform and enhance the experience for buyers and sellers. To see available job openings, visit www.shortboxed.com/jobs.
Wrapping it Up
“We’re huge comic nerds and we wanted to put our skills to work,” Gene said, “we almost felt obligated to do it. This comes from a place of pure love and passion for the industry and for the hobby. It’s our way of ushering the next generation into collecting.”
Here at GoCollect, Shortboxed is a company that we truly believe in. We’ve used it ourselves, and it’s really as easy as Gene says it is. Download their app from their website or the app store. Check it out – and we’ll let the product’s value speak for itself. Learn more about Shortboxed here!
Final words from Gene; “We’re all collectors. We’re all about the books.”