Two Guys, a Domain, and a Garage SaleMike Sullivan
Jonathon Papsin is the co-founder and CEO of Tag Sell It Inc. He currently specializes in residential real estate brokerage in New York, NY. When not working the real estate market and meeting with clients, Jonathon is focused on business development and managerial operations of Tagsellit.com.
Matthew Dorman is the co-founder and CTO of Tag Sell It Inc. Matthew works as a technology consultant for Fortune 100 companies that have offices in New York, NY. Matt specializes in the technology development and handles all technical customer service issues. Matt has also built 4 iPhone Applications for the company.
Mike: Tell me a bit about the company and Tagsellit.com.
Jonathon: Tagsellit.com is a virtual garage sale website, launched in 2008 to help people who didn’t physically have a front yard or garage to create a virtual garage sale. It’s a free service enabling sellers to post an unlimited number of items with photos on our site for sale (ideal for city dwellers). For buyers, it connects them with garage sale bargains from around the country, virtually. It’s great for someone looking for a unique item they wouldn’t otherwise find in their neighborhood weekend yard sale.
We’ve been in business since October 2007, but didn’t launch the site until May of 2008. We had a lot of background work to accomplish in order to produce a site of this size with so many capabilities. Currently Matthew and I run the entire site by ourselves, we each own the company 50/50.
Mike: tagsellit.com is a unique concept. How did you arrive at the idea for this site?
Jonathon: I’ve always been intrigued by repurposing secondhand items. When I was a kid I used to scout out cool and novelty items at flea markets and garage sales. In college, I was an entrepreneur using eBay to sell secondhand goods and items for friends. It was a fun side gig for a college student. Once I graduated and landed my first apartment, I had quite a few items I wanted to get rid of at once and eBay wouldn’t cut it and Craigslist was frustrating because they discourage virtual sales (listing more than 4 items). I set out to design a garage sale website that would enable people who rented apartments (like myself) or didn’t have a front yard or garage (city dwellers) to upload and unlimited number of photos of items from around their homes they wanted to sell. It’s perfect if you don’t want to go through the effort of an entire weekend garage sale, you can discreetly sell your items while they stay posted on our site for 30 days.
Mike: What characteristics were you looking for when searching for the right domain name? Do you feel like you captured exactly what you were looking for?
Jonathon: I was searching for the domain name in October 2007 and didn’t know much about domains and their relevance to search engine optimization. It took a solid hour of playing with words to land something I was excited about. Initially I didn’t feel entirely confident in what I had captured, but after a few imitator sites popped up, I feel that our domain name is special and has a unique value. If you break down our domain name, Tag Sell It, we emphasize the “Sell It” part, meaning we want people to sell their items. Tag comes from “Tag Sale” which is what I grew up with in the Northeast, referring to yard sales or garage sales.
Mike: Can you share the volume of traffic that your site receives?
Jonathon: Our site’s services and purpose is sometimes subject to the seasonal nature of garage sales. Our traffic peaks in the summer months and slows down in the winter months. I think once more people realize they can use our site to buy and sell year-round the cyclical nature might flatten itself out. We average about 30,000 uniques per month at this point.
Mike: You’ve received reviews from some pretty large media outlets such as about.com, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times. Is there a secret to getting that kind of coverage?
Jonathon: At the beginning of 2009 when our site emerged out of beta testing, we immediately hired a local PR company to help us spread the word about what our business does. They did a decent job at getting us some local press, but nothing remarkable and we felt like we were spinning our wheels, so we didn’t maintain that relationship for very long. Being mentioned is nice but when our name is mentioned, it has to make a “call to action” statement to readers. For example, I didn’t agree with the NY Times article at all, it had a negative connotation to it and the fact checking on the article was poor.
As for the other press we’ve received, the majority has been our own efforts, seeking media opportunities online, contacting individuals and using our own networks to help us get introduced to the decision makes to write about our service.
Mike: How are you marketing the site?
Jonathon: Early on we used to advertise on Google but having boot-strapped the development of this business, we became very budget conscious and decided to pay off our debts first.
Currently our marketing strategy revolves around Social Media, including Facebook and Twitter. Those have been great incubators for our website’s growth.
Mike: Did you purchase the name from someone else that owned it? If so, what was the process you went through? Will you share what you paid for the name?
Jonathon: Since our domain name that we chose is unique, we didn’t have to pay much at all when we purchased it through GoDaddy. I think altogether for the 10-year domain name ownership and rights we paid about $100.
Mike: Any advice for start-ups, small business, or business of any size for that matter on choosing the right domain name?
Jonathon: I would say having something short and unique is ideal. You want to have something memorable. I think one thing that poses a challenge to us is the need to state our name clearly, some people miss it when you say “tagsellit.”
Mike: Any other information you’d like to share?
Jonathon: Whatever it is you do online, just have fun with it!