Categorized | Shoestring Startup

Tagsellit.com Delivers Free Virtual Garage Sale Services and Solutions as Economy Calls for Creativity

Why did you start your company?

Tag Sell It Inc. was founded in October 2007. The development of the website took several months to complete as well as the initial due diligence, legal paperwork, and trademark filings. Our site (www.tagsellit.com) was launched on May 1st, 2008 and remained in beta testing until December 2008. In January 2009 we started announcing our services on a much broader level with nationwide reach by utilizing social networking platforms, “budget conscious” grass-roots advertising strategies, and word of mouth.

What is your product or service?

Tagsellit.com is a free virtual garage sale website service that enables people who don’t physically have a front yard or garage to create a virtual sale on our site. Users can upload an infinite number of items they wish to sell along with photos and descriptions of those items. In addition to the virtual sale services we offer, users can also advertise their weekend sale events on our site for free as well, including Estate Sales, Yard Sales, Tag Sales, Garage Sales, Liquidation Sales, Flea Markets and even Auction Events.

We have three directories that serve a nationwide audience:

1) Flea Market Directory – We list over 1,600 flea markets from across America. Some flea market vendors list their merchandise on our site during the off-season or between events if they’re traveling.

2) Professional Estate Sale Services Directory – An easy to use directory to locate qualified service providers by state to assist with downsizing and liquidating a home

3) Consignment Shop Directory – A nationwide directory of consignment stores listed by state. Many consignment stores also list a few items from their inventory on a weekly basis.

We have four amazing iPhone Applications, all function with geographic locator functions:

1) Find Tag Sales (Yard Sales & Garage Sales)

2) Estate Sales & Professional Estate Sale Services near you

3) Find Flea Markets

4) Garage Sale Guide (Available as an “eBook” for the iPad as well)

In the summer of 2009, we published “The Ultimate Garage Sale Guide” – a fun “how-to” book for organizing and running a successful garage sale.

What free online or offline tools do you use?

We take full advantage of all the unique features social networking enables us to do to help us spread the word about the site and welcome new users daily. You can find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter, @tagsellit

We also host our Intranet with Google, which makes it easy for my business partner to share documents and development ideas for the site.

How many people are currently working (freelancers or independent contractors for specific projects)?

Jonathon-Papsin

Jonathon Papsin

We currently have two people working on Tag Sell It, my business partner, Matthew Dorman and myself. Matt handles the website and technology development end of the business, while I focus on business development and day-to-day tasks of running the business (finances, marketing, sales). We each take turns with customer service and pride ourselves in being able to respond to 99% of questions within 24 hours of receiving them.

Both Matt and I work full time jobs. Matt is a Developer of Fortune 500 company websites in New York City and I’m a Real Estate Agent, specializing in residential sales and rentals. Not only have we been bootstrapping from a monetary perspective, but we’ve also been “moon-lighting” from the beginning, working into the early hours of the mornings at times to constantly enhance the site and our services.
What is the best advice you never got?

Sometimes the customer or client isn’t always right, and you have to learn to stand your ground and not take crap. There’s an awesome quote that I live by, said by Donald Trump: “If you have a problem with someone you have to go after them, and it’s not necessarily to teach that person a lesson, it’s to teach all the people that are watching a lesson that you don’t take crap, and if you do take crap, you’re just not going to well.”

What almost killed your business in the start?

We definitely had a few unexpected bumps in the road in the first two years. The toughest day in our first year though was when our third business partner decided to withdraw from the company to pursue personal interests. That left Matt and I having to buy his shares but fortunately the parting was amicable, and we didn’t have a disaster on our hands (like when an unhappy founding partner of Craigslist sold a 25% stake in the company to eBay).


What is the one thing that you did right?

When we launched our site in 2008, we were charging people to list their items. We were making a small profit, but it was limiting us. By the end of 2008 we stopped charging people to list their items and we became a 100% free service for all users. Making this adjustment early on in our development has made a huge positive impact and quickly attracted thousands more to register on the site and user our services.


What was the biggest transition you had to make (i.e. new skill set, habits, abilities, focus)?

We’re a very organized team, but keeping records can be a real drag on our time. We’ve had to create databases, excel spreadsheets and our own financial documents as we continue to bootstrap the running of our business on a daily basis.

Matthew-Dorman

Matthew Dorman

My business partner Matt has also had some big transitions to make, having developed complex websites for Fortune 500 Companies in New York City, we wanted to break into the mobile technology world and build our own company apps. This took a tremendous amount of learning and effort, but we have some amazing technology that we’ve created to parallel our site’s services.


Are you currently in the red?

Yes, but not significantly. In 2009 we hired a PR company to help us build our brand awareness and announce our services. They over-promised and under-delivered (it’s true what they say, “in advertising you pay, in PR you pray”). It was a big disappointment to say the least, but it was also an incredible learning opportunity and we’ve been able to build upon our experiences.

Our current revenues exceed our monthly break-even point, so we conservatively anticipate being in the black in early 2011.

What would make your business more “Successful?”

We’ve always wanted to pursue a large national advertising campaign on Television where we would have a creative message that would go “viral.”

We truly believe that our service is something everyone can use, renters, homeowners and even business owners. Garage sales are the foundation to the American entrepreneurial spirit, when you organize a sale at your home or online, you’re in charge of all your “merchandise” and need to run the show like you’re running a business, negotiating terms, and coordinating transactions.


Would you want to be acquired by a bigger company, run it yourself or sell in a couple of years?

Being acquired by a larger company would be more attractive to us than seeking venture capital or angel investors at this time. It would be really amazing to remain a part of the team in some capacity if Tagsellit.com were to be acquired and we wouldn’t mind working for a larger company that had the resources to help expand the services and tools the site and concept has to offer to users. We both enjoy working in an environment that fosters collaborative efforts and teamwork in developing new things and always striving for the better. There’s a lot we can learn from larger companies that have more personnel resources and idea flow.

What do you think your projected annual revenue will be?

We will probably clear 10-15K for 2010, but we didn’t start earning revenues until May 2010.

How long do you think it will take you to get to your projected annual revenue?

That depends on how long it takes for us to build new accounts, but in an ideal world, another 12-18 months is in the big picture.

As we grow certain sections and elements of the site, our indicators show us revenues of 100K+ and we have very little overhead at this time since we work “virtually.” Our once per week or monthly meetings usually takes place at a Subway restaurant or Starbucks. All our other collaborative work is done online.

What advice would you like to give to new entrepreneurs when they are about to start a new venture?

Always remain optimistic. The inter-connected world runs a mile per minute these days. When you lose touch of what’s possible, your dreams and goals begin to disappear. Never give up because when there’s a will, there’s a way. “If you’ve never failed, you’ve never lived.”

Jonathon Papsin
Chief Executive Officer
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