Solomon Engel's company, Boxes, is a growing destination for collectors around the world.
We're always looking to highlight a company we believe has a recipe that will change an industry forever. One particular company, Boxes, caught our attention, and its Founder and CEO Solomon Engel has been working for the last several years to build it into the very first true online destination for collectors. He spent his last 17 years as an entrepreneur creating many different types of products, and today Engel's Boxes appears to be on pace to become the next big social media platform.
"My team and I built Boxes to be a one-of-a-kind platform where people from all over the world can come together and socialize around their collections. As it is, they can't put Boxes down. They end up adding their entire collections of comics, toys, sports collectibles, coins, you-name-it, and then find themselves immersed in a community with like-minded people socializing for hours each day," said Engel.
As the world of social media continues to evolve, Boxes appears to be offering a unique approach that is specially tailored towards collectors, but can also appeal to other audiences. The collectibles industry is massive in itself and until Boxes, no one has yet to capture this market in an online community atmosphere. Think about all the verticals from the hottest Star Wars toys to vintage antiques to superstar athlete collectibles. From the collectible world, the opportunities to capture appear significant, and from our discussions with Engel, some of the company's future plans that are already in the works will help bring the industry at the forefront of technology.
Since its earliest days, the versatility and benefits of Boxes has caught the attention of tens of thousands of collectors from all over the world and today its online community is thriving with an abundance of active collectors who are diving into the many options that Engel's company has to offer.
"The foundation of Boxes is centered around the ability for people to add their entire collections so they can take them wherever they go with their mobile device, in an organized and searchable way. Boxes is a tool that puts structure and context to a collection." said Engel. "Over the last several months we've had a surge of people adding hundreds of thousands of items and it's led to a rapid increase in our community's growth."
We downloaded Boxes and created an account ourselves just to get an idea of what life is like inside Engel's collector utopia. We were mesmerized by the amount of engagement, activity, and commitment from the community. The sheer volume of items added by the community is unlike anything we've ever seen on other social media platforms. Within a week's time, we watched the people that we were following add thousands upon thousands of high quality items, one at a time. With such a large abundance of content being added in such a short period, the user commitment is definitely there and it'll be exciting to see how Boxes will blend this level of activity with its fast growing community.
Spend even one hour on Boxes and you'll get the feeling that somehow everyone in this community knows each other. Realistically most of them have never met, but Engel and his team have created an ingenious way to bring them all together and the result is a community filled with passionate people who essentially spend all day together on Boxes.
"Our community has been our priority from the start so we implemented different strategies that would bring people closer together. It's essential for anyone building a community to find ways to bring people closer and building a good social foundation is very important," said Engel.
"Holding physical meet-ups, running contests, and promoting regular users into solid advocates are a few great tactics we use to help bond people together and keep our community growing. There is no cookie-cutter approach, but anyone building a community should have their own strategy for maintaining it."
Community building plays an integral role in every company's growth. All the social media giants have demonstrated this and Boxes is taking a focus on building their own. The larger the community, the more opportunities a company can capitalize on and from what we've seen, Engel's company looks to be well positioned to take advantage of its growth.
Where as Pinterest is an online bulletin board for people to create collections for planning events, traveling, and remodeling their home, Boxes has grown a community focused on the actual collections people own and are most passionate about. Where we see similarities, this piece sets the difference between the two companies. Boxes is also gaining traction in a new demographic with a mostly male user base whereas Pinterest is predominately female.
Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram may have taken social media by storm, but are a far cry from a platform designed around items and collections. As people and brands post content across these mammoth social networks, they lack the tools that would enable their community to use their platform as a destination for collections and products. Boxes is focused on collectors at the moment, but that does not mean brands, celebrities and other audiences may not find the platform useful as a location online where fans and others can come to discover what they have to offer or show to the world.
MAKING THE MONEY
While many of the social media giants utilize advertising to generate revenue, Boxes lets people place their items on sale whenever they're ready to sell them and takes 10% when their items are sold. As a place where people are adding their most prized possessions, they're not always ready to sell them, but when they decide to, Engel tells us Boxes makes it incredibly easy.
"Since our community already has their collections on Boxes, selling some of their pieces is a natural extension to using our product," said Engel. "We built our own payment system and partnered with companies such as PayPal so that it's easy for anyone to transact right on the platform from anywhere in the world."
As with any marketplace, it may take some time to grow the number of transactions, but at some point this may put eBay within reach of Boxes. There are some obvious differences here between the two companies, but where eBay is a buy/sell destination, Boxes' dynamic and approach at capturing everything that's important to people rather than just what they want to get rid of, sets them apart in a big way. From a user ownership standpoint and a place to discover things, Boxes seems to have a unique approach that can eventually allow them to surpass even a marketplace giant like eBay.
Taking a piece of the transactions is not the only way Boxes makes money. From what we saw, the company has a premium subscription model that unlocks additional features. Engel wasn't prepared to make any formal announcements but did hint at another major release coming in 2016 that will unlock new revenue opportunities for the company.
"While we are making money through our transactions and premium subscription sales, at the moment we are focused on building our community. We are a business, and like any business you need to make money so in addition to building our platform, we developed a whole new, never been done before, virtual experience that will open doors to new partnerships and new revenue opportunities," said Engel.
We first learned about Boxes through a collector friend. He was very excited about their product and asked us to check it out. Having seen many different consumer plays, our expectations were tempered, but once we tried it we immediately saw how big and special this platform could be. Their unique approach, growing community, and grocery list of revenue opportunities have put CEO Solomon Engel and Boxes on a path to becoming a major online presence. It's not hard for us to imagine that over time Boxes will become an extension to many of our social resumes.