Funko Pops. You have probably noticed them at your local GameStop, Hot Topic or on your colleague's desk. These little vinyl figures and their big old heads have taken over the shelves in recent years. You can now find a Funko Pop! (or thirty) for almost every fandom; There are over 8,000 different pops, and that number never seems to stop growing.
Like most collectibles, some pops are worth more than others – whether they're obscure characters who didn't have long runs or were only sold for a day or two at a convention, the rarest pops can sell for hundreds or Thousands of dollars. And like everywhere else where people drop lots of money, there are people who try to sell counterfeits.
Whatnot, a Y 2020 combiner company from Y Combinator, wants to solve the problem of counterfeiting collectibles by adapting a model that has been proven by services such as GOAT and StockX: Authenticated Resale.
As with the above, Whatnot works as a compulsorily informed intermediary between buyer and seller. The buyer makes an offer, the seller sends his figure to Whatnot. Whatnot uses its growing knowledge of what is real (and how to identify what is not) to ensure that it is real. If everything looks good, Whatnot passes the Funko Pop on to the buyer and shortens it (approx. 9% plus a few dollars for shipping).
"We started buying and selling sneakers," says Grant LaFontaine, co-founder of Whatnot. “Then we started buying / reselling Funko Pops. When we started, we found that buying and selling Funko Pops was much more difficult and unsafe than buying and selling sneakers. "
According to LaFontaine, services like GOAT and StockX have “drastically simplified” the process for sneaker fans. They have helped eradicate counterfeiting for buyers and limit potential scams that could harm sellers.
Today all sales on Whatnot are checked by a human expert. That makes sense for the rarer, more expensive figures. The "Grails" as they call funko pop collectors – like this Comic Con Sith Trooper that sold for $ 600-700, or this 2012 "holographic" Darth Maul that can go for thousands. For the less rare things, it's a bit of an exaggeration.
With this in mind, Whatnot builds up a database with the red flags to be searched for with every transaction – for example, cartons that are small in size or a logo that doesn't look quite right. Over time, this could allow more of their review to be automated, with the human expert (and the associated higher fees) reserved for larger transactions.
Which is not alone when it comes to recognizing the potential of this market. StockX, the authenticated resale market that initially focused on sneakers, was expanded into collectibles at the end of last year. Whatnot seeks its fan base by focusing solely Provide collectors with the exact user experience, filters, and information they would search for in a particular category.
But that doesn't mean they only focus on Funko Pops – at least not in the long run. The team plans to expand to other types of collectibles later, with Pokémon cards likely to be the next candidate.
Whatnot tells me that Wonder Ventures, YC, and a handful of angel investors have raised a pre-seed round of $ 550,000.