Emojis may have come to center stage over the past few years, but they are rarely viewed as a collectible or piece of art. Quidd strives to be the next evolution of the emoji revolution. The has built an app for collecting and digital stickers, cards, and toys that includes licensed digital items that can evoke a sense of nostalgia with digital collectibles from some of your favorites including Star Trek and Back to the Future. It offers a marketplace and additional opportunities for revenue generation for businesses that have strong followings.
AlleyWatch chatted with CEO and Founder Michael Bramlage about the startup and how they raised their first round of funding.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
We raised $6.75M in Seed funding from strategic Angel investors.
Tell us about your product or service.
Quidd is an app to collect and trade digital stickers, digital cards, and digital toys. It’s a little bit like a digital toy store on your phone. It might sound silly, but consider the billions of people that send emojis and digital stickers in chat messages each day. We want to serve that market with really high-end, limited-edition emoji, and sticker content, almost treating it like art to be curated and collected.
What inspired you to start the company?
My cofounder and I started Quidd out of both a conviction and a challenge.
We have this conviction that collecting — the act of obsessing over your favorite show, buying officially-licensed products from that show, completing sets of those products, hanging out and discussing it with like-minded fans, and showing off your special items — is universal. Everyone collects something.
Then we had this challenge. Could we take this universal behavior and make the entire experience digital? Could it be real and live entirely on an app in the palm of your hand? Could the itch to own bits and pieces of the things you love be scratched more effectively digitally than physically? It turns out the answer is yes.
How is it different?
70% of Quidd users have never collected physical stickers, cards, or toys before they purchased their first digital collectible in the app. And this includes a disproportionate number of Millennial females. What sets us apart is we’ve built this experience that allows us to tap into the latent need of super-fans, and not just the stereotypical adult male trading card or action figure collector. The app and platform is proving that everyone — young, old, male, female — has an inner geek just waiting to come out.
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
Since Quidd sells digital stickers, digital cards, and digital toys, it sits at the intersection of a few rather large markets.
By volume, emojis and stickers is a super-large market. Literally billions of people send or receive billions of texts and chat messages each day contains emojis and stickers. But few chat apps have figured out how to monetize this important content.
By revenue, the physical toy industry is mammoth. It’s more than $80B in global retail sales. What if just a sliver of that goes digital? What if today’s kids who are growing up preferring digital to physical experiences, want to carry around their entire toy collection with them in an app on their phone in the future? These are the questions we’re asking and the markets we’re targeting.
What’s your business model?
Quidd is both a platform and marketplace, enabling publishers like Cryptozoic and Funko — makers of the incredibly popular physical Pop! figures — to digitize their physical products and sell them as digital collectibles. Consumers, who love Rick And Morty or Bob’s Burgers or Star Trek, spend real money paying for or real time trading for these digital items.
How has your experience with Topps influenced the development of this venture?
It helped us realize we were onto something and there was a market there.
What was the funding process like?
Good. We’re very fortunate to have the support from a great group of investors.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
Probably two things.
First is the silliness of it. We’re not curing cancer. We’re helping millennial super-fans engage with the shows they obsess over and love, like Rick And Morty. We’re helping them meet like-minded fans. And we’re helping them to geek out and really go down the rabbit hole. It’s weird and silly, but also wonderful. It took a couple attempts for folks to realize that a serious, healthy business could exist wrapped in this fun, silly veneer.
Second is the newness of it. Nobody is really doing this at the scale and ambition of Quidd. It’s cliche, but we believe we’re defining a category and we’re proving that we’re not too early. The pitch isn’t and never was ‘we’re Uber for X’ and we really like that.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
If I had to settle on one factor, it would be the fact that my co-founder and I had built a large, revenue-generating apps business prior to starting this company. That conviction and that “in the trenches” experience reduces a lot of the perceived risk.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
There will be some very exciting new content launching on Quidd in the next couple of quarters. But that’s all I can share.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Keep going. It’s that simple.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
We have a product roadmap that will take at least half a decade to realize. In the near future we plan to continue putting our heads down and executing to realize our vision.
Where is your favorite bar in the city for an after work drink?
68 Jay St. Bar in DUMBO, Brooklyn.