Curicon’s Matt Byrne Gets Comic Booked!
What if there was a place where collectors of just about anything could get together and connect with one another on a deeper more personal level? Like a social network designed entirely with collectors in mind. A place where people can go to catalog and show off their collections of comics, toys, video games, trading cards and just about anything else to a world full of like-minded people? Fun fact…such a place exists! You’re looking for Curicon.
Curicon has come from a land down under and is ready to revolutionize the way fans collect all of their favorite things on a global level! Founder and CEO Matt Byrne was kind enough to sit down with us and give us a proper rundown of what Curicon is, what they plan to do and how they plan to make your life as a collector better than ever!
Jordamus Prime for Comic Booked– Hey Matt! Thanks for agreeing do this interview! I know we’re really excited about Curicon over on Comic Booked, the whole team is pretty stoked about it and I know I’m personally a big fan of the site already! It’s essentially a giant social network made just for collectors right? I mean you’ve got everything from comics to toys and even video games already!
Matt Byrne- Yes! We like to think of Curicon as like the ‘collectors platform’. We’re going to make it more than just a social network; we’re going to make it everything you’d ever want it to be.
CB- Sounds awesome! What can you tell us about Curicon, the mission and what you guys are actually doing with the site?
MB- Curicon was born out of the fact that I grew up being about as big a collector as you can be. I collected action figures, comics, trading cards, video games, old consoles, stamps, coins, rocks, phone cards… pretty much anything and everything… which my parents weren’t exactly the biggest fans of because a lot of money went into it. I actually started a car washing business when I was ten years old and roped a bunch of neighborhood kids in to help. We set up in one of our local shopping center parking lots on the weekends as our own little pop up store, and we were actually making hundreds of dollars a day at one point! That was sort of my first enterprise and that funded a lot of my collecting when I was younger. All the comics- hundreds and hundreds of comics- and I have several thousand now.
That’s sort of what I was all about in my early life, and at the same time I learned how to program early on. I had been on computers since I was about four years old, so what has come about in the last year has been me combining my skills in IT, utilizing my experience in IT management business and my computer science degree with my love of collecting, which has been sort of a lifelong thing. Curicon is just about everything that I could ever want in a platform. It’s something that allows me to connect with other people, something that allows me to actually keep track of what I’ve got, and it allows me to explore new things! That’s a big thing for Curicon, there are 220,000-odd thousand with more going up all the time, and not even I have seen everything that Curicon has to offer. It’s a great discovery platform, and as we connect with more people who actually use it, it’s becoming about learning what other people who like comics and the same comics as you- what else do they like? What else do they collect?
It’s about giving collectors- and at this point Curicon is really focused on the geek and nerdy collectors- a place where you and I would want to spend our time and actually do our collecting.
CB- That all sounds amazing! I know you already touched on this a bit, but what do you collect personally? You said you’re an avid collector, are you really into comics or toys specifically, or do you collect the majority of what is up on the site?
MB- My focus, if I had to pick just three things, would be comics. I’ve got a few thousand comics and about 85% of them are bagged and boarded, and I do that with the kind of care that would require like cotton gloves. I think that’s the kind of obsessive person that I am with comics. If I do manage to track down a particular comic that I’ve been looking for, whether it’s for a dollar or a hundred dollars, I would still give it the same care. I have every West Coast Avengers miniseries volume one and volume two, I have every Spectacular Spider-Man including two Spectacular Spider-Man #1’s, one is a CGC 9.0 grade, I have every Web of Spider-Man from volume one, and I have more than half of the series of Amazing Spider-Man. Pretty much everything after #200, I’m sort of working my way back down but they start to get very expensive as you get towards the 60‘s. Spider-Man is sort of my main focus, but I’ve also got a pretty good collection of the newer Wolverine stuff, The Mighty Avengers, The New Avengers– but West Coast was one that I just loved as a kid so recently I set about collecting the whole series in near mint or very fine, at least as close as I can get to that.
Also, sitting right next to me is a Megadrive II, two Megadrive 1’s, Mega CD, forty games and a bunch of controllers that I bought because I collect old consoles as well. Sega is pretty much my main focus but I do have Nintendo and all the rest as well. Atari Lynx, Sega Gamegear, and handheld consoles… I love those! I still play them all the time, I think they’re awesome! Those are my main focus at the moment but I’ve got tons of toys and trading cards like the Marvel Masterpiece sets!
CB- Oh wow that sound like quite a bit! How do you and your team actually go about collecting what actually goes up on the Curicon site itself? I know you’ve got over 220,000 items up already, but you’re still in Beta so how do you decide which specific items go up into your database, what with all the different toys and collectibles out there in the world? Do users upload items themselves too, or is it all done by your team?
MB- It’s sort of a combination and it always will be a combination. Basically, in our first Beta, because we’re in our second Beta now, we actually disabled the user-upload feature just for the moment and it will be back up in a few weeks! But we actually allow submissions directly from users and allow users to contact us with questions! Like we have one user who spends hours and hours on the site and he wanted Invincible and Savage Dragon comics up in the database, so we got those entire series up within a matter of days, so we very much listen to what people seem to want and the general way we do it is that we have a set list of things that we consider within the geek/nerdy kind of collector world and we talk about it as a group and decide what our priorities are and where we should be looking. Like we’ve got a lot of games and console stuff going up soon, so we just sort of go wherever the focus from our users seems to be coming from. Anyone that’s getting onto the site and spending a lot of time there and they say “hey you know it would be cool if you had this or that” and we say “you know what? Give us a week and we’ll have them for you!” So as we go forward the idea is to put a lot more of the power to get things up there into the user’s hands, even though we’ll still want to review and approve everything before it actually goes up. We want to make it a real crowd sourced group effort so that people can feel that they are a part of it and that they have to get their photos up there! At the moment, items only have one photo but very shortly people are going to be able to submit as many photos as they want and people are can see all these photos of these great items!
CB- Sorry, but as we’re talking I’m looking through the site itself and I’m just amazed at all the new things that have been added in just the last few days it’s been since I’ve been on here! It’s truly astounding!
MB- Oh yeah, and we’re adding more items all the time! It’s non-stop! Aimee (Palk), who is in charge of the actual library- she is just some sort of human robot who literally can just… if you need like a thousand things to go up, she can have it done by the end of the day. Its’ really amazing and we’ve been talking to some of the manufacturers directly, especially some of the vinyl toy people and some of the other toy people, and they want to actually send us their catalogs directly with high-resolution photos. We’re starting to make a really good impression on the industry! They can see that we’re here to help everyone! We’re here for the manufacturers, the collectors, the people who run the events and we’re very much about the people who are in the brick and mortar stores as well! We want to sort of reinforce what they do and revive a lot of the energy in the industry and get people into those shops!
CB- It certainly sounds like things are heading in the right direction! Where did the whole idea for Curicon come from? I mean it’s sort of all-encompassing so it’s kind of a massive undertaking!
MB- I’ve been involved in a few big projects before as the lead or I’ve been the one who has actually written the patent documents for the things that have actually been patented so I’ve spent a lot of time in the last ten years doing lots of entrepreneurial things and helping people raise money and all sorts of stuff in this industry. Years ago we were working on this big project that we thought was going to change a lot of the way that people do education in Australia and the rest of the world but we got hit pretty hard so we actually went back into IT management and website design for clients and everything. Last year we had the opportunity to do something that we really loved and that thing was Curicon!
CB- Now you’ve said you’ve had a pretty positive response from a lot of the toy production companies so far, are there any that you haven’t had a very positive reaction from yet? Or does everyone seem to be sort of ‘on board’ with it?
MB– Well, I can tell you that nobody has given us a negative reaction and nobody has asked us to take anything down. A lot of the smaller companies and a few of the ones that are a bit more unique are sort of like “this is awesome! Here is a bunch of stuff!” and we’re in contact with them every day. So the industry has been really great so far.
CB– Looking around the site, it’s really cool to bring together all the collectors together that collect all these different things. You always see sites for comics or toys, but Curicon is all-encompassing for collectibles, so you see anything that anyone would conceivably want all in one place, and then you’ve got everyone on here so that you can talk to one another- so there is a whole community of people! You can’t trade with one another, you can show off your collection, you can just talk… it’s just one giant social network built for collectors!
MB– I think you hit the nail right on the head! For someone such as yourself, and myself as well, if I collect action figures AND comics, and I have to go to two different sites, it doesn’t really make any sense! Why not put all of that stuff together?
CB- And you guys have this ‘Rep’ system in place on the site for users, how does that work exactly?
MB- One of the things we’ve sort of identified is that if you’re a big collector, you tend to want some kind of number that you can quantify what your ‘status’ is. The Rep system is based on how much you interact on the site… the more you answer questions, the more you get into discussions, you get a big chunk of Rep if you’ve got a large collection… your Rep just keeps going up and up and up! It’s just sort of a really cool, fun way to show what your place is in the community. There are all sorts of things like badges and levels coming up; it’s going to be great!
CB- Now I know you’ve said there are a lot of big things coming up, but what can we expect from the future of Curicon?
MB– We’re very focused on bringing anything and everything that collectors want to the site! We may even completely change course from what we’re planning if that’s what the community is telling us they want. We’re completely open and flexible to wherever fans want to take us! We just want to lead them there.
CB- I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say I’m really looking forward to seeing all of these new features! Are there any final words or thoughts you’d like to send out to our readers and Curicon fans world-wide?
MB- The only thing I’d really like to do is thank everyone once again! The best part of my day, every day, is talking to the people who have been a part of it and getting e-mails from people telling me that they’re tearing up just because Curicon is so awesome! It makes my day, and it makes me almost want to forgo any sleep and just keep going and delivering what people want because if I know I’m giving collectors what they want, it just makes my day. It gives me a reason to get up every single morning and just get into it!
Be sure to check out Curicon and register to get your collection started!