Building Collexy, a Marketplace for Collectibles, with the Optis Factory

At Optis, we specialize in turning innovative ideas into reality, especially when it comes to supporting local initiatives. That is why we started Optis Factory, our end-to-end service for software development projects. In this case study, we will discuss how we assisted an ambitious young entrepreneur with building a revolutionary marketplace for various collectibles. Let’s dive in!

A Collector’s Dream  

When Tom Ceulemans started collecting Pokémon trading cards, he was frustrated with having to use multiple websites at once and their lack of user friendliness. This is where he got the idea for Collexy, a marketplace where you can buy, sell and collect all kinds of collectibles: trading cards, comic books, vinyl records, video games, and more.  

From the outset, Tom’s wanted to make a platform that went into as much detail as possible while remaining generic enough to encompass all collectibles. This would ensure an efficient, pleasant and intuitive experience for the seller, buyer and collector, but required setting up a completely new database structure with custom made databases. Our Optis Factory helped Tom’s project throughout this entire process: from analysis to design, development, implementation to (eventually) hosting.

Our Optis Factory helped Tom’s project throughout this entire process: from analysis to design, development, implementation to (eventually) hosting.

First Steps  

After Tom approached us, we began discussing his idea through some exploratory conversations back in June of last year. Once we were convinced of his vision, we started reading and analysing Tom’s extensive whitepaper, with over 270 pages and a comprehensive flowchart. Based on our analysis of his vision and goals, we organised a half-day kick-off workshop where we matched his ideas with technologies. This gave us a chance to resolve anything that was unclear and gave Tom the chance to meet the developers that would bring his vision to life.

Data Deep Dive  

The first and most important challenge was to find a data structure that would work for different types of collectibles. Collectibles have a lot of highly specific attributes that can make the difference between a high-value item and one that is only worth a few cents. These specific attributes differ from collectible to collectible. For example, trading cards can wildly vary in value depending on special editions like first prints, holographic variants, or even misprints, while the value of video games depends more on different factors like regions and releases.  

There is an important reason why Collexy’s database had to be both generic and specific. Certain competitors that specialise in one type of collectible have tried to expand to other types, and failed because their data model did not suffice. Tom also stressed the importance of the data model for the user experience. One of Collexy’s core features is real-time value assessment for each collectible, on a detailed level for a specific version. That way, its users can see the impact when they purchase or sell something on the marketplace.    

Our half-day kick-off workshop gave us a chance to resolve anything that was unclear and gave Tom the chance to meet the developers that would bring his vision to life.

Development  

Once we had set up Collexy’s custom data model, we dove into writing documentation for knowledge transfer purposes. This included a list of all the user stories and user cases on separate tickets to evaluate the technical dependencies. As a first deliverable, we provided a “clickable version” of Collexy in September of last year. This staging environment gave Tom an idea of how the final platform would work. We also included a preliminary design with the right look and feel, so Tom could assess it.  

With Tom’s approval, we started the complete development in two-week increments. At the beginning of each increment, we organised a status update meeting. After every two weeks, Tom visited our offices, and we shared a demo to help him give detailed and focused feedback and assess the priorities for further development. Afterwards, Tom could try the new features out on the staging environment we set up earlier and determine which features would need to be prioritised. Our insistence on short feedback loops is an essential part of the Optis Factory, so we can provide our clients with the best possible product at the end of our journey together.

Throughout the project, we made sure to include a variety of collectibles to ensure the desired combination of both generic and detailed data was included in the platform. We also strived to keep the time required to list a new collectible to a minimum, which was another key requirement to improve the user experience.  

Looking Ahead  

In November, we started developing a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) of Collexy. At the moment of writing, the first version is almost ready to go live. At the same time, one of our developers is also setting up a custom integration between Stripe (Collexy’s payment processor) and Trustap to add an optional buyer’s insurance.    

However, this is not where Collexy’s story ends. Tom aims to add an auction house and streamed ‘fire sales’ to Collexy once it is up and running.  In order to give Tom this scaling potential, we focused on the accuracy and completeness of the data model throughout the whole process. We are thrilled to have given Tom the platform of his dreams, and we cannot wait to see how Collexy will grow and expand in the months and years to come.  

Our insistence on short feedback loops is an essential part of the Optis Factory, so we can provide our clients with the best possible product at the end of our journey together.

Looking for a development partner that thinks alongside you and guides you every step of the way? Check out Optis Factory where we take care of software development projects from end to end.

Keshia Niemegeerts

December 11, 2023

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