From paintball to antiques, Terry Anderton succeeded in many business endeavors before starting the new website Gemr, an online community for collectors.
Terry was raised in Utah until he was 6 years old and, after moving back east for the rest of his adolescence, returned to Utah for his college years, where he became a self-proclaimed “ski bum and dead head.” He then spent two years in the Air Force, molding him into the person he is today.
“The Air Force allowed me to grow and mature as a person and give me the discipline that I needed,” Anderton said.
After the Air Force he worked at a boutique store, purchased it and expanded to multiple locations, all in his early 20s. After leaving the boutique stores, he reconnected with friends who invented the game of paintball when he was in high school. Together, they made paintball the worldwide sport it is today. He took this success and started his own paintball company, generating $20 million in sales within the first year.
Anderton continued to buy and sell companies, eventually transitioning to technology.
“Internet was something really new back then, and I jumped in with both feet,” Anderton said.
Some of his other endeavors include working for McAfee, where he ran the sales department. He then started his own company, NitroSecurity, and employed many graduates from the BYU—Idaho computer science program. This company sold to McAfee for approximately $150 million.
Anderton attributes his success to his faith and a supportive family.
“Being grounded in one’s faith has been very important, because you have this safety net that exists (so) you can take chances,” Anderton said.
He further explained that his family encouraged him to challenge himself, even when he faced failure.
“You’ve got to have the courage to believe in yourself,” Anderton said.
He started Gemr, a site where users can display, buy and sell collectibles, after seeing a gap between the increasing number of antique television shows and social media. He watched a variety of these shows and noticed something in common.
“They all want to know what it is and what it’s worth,” Anderton said. “I realized there was really no online equivalent to these shows.”
He sought to create a place where people can “show and tell” their collections and find out what it is worth while connecting with others who have the same interests.
“It’s a great place to find other people that share your passion,” Anderton said.
The name Gemr is used as a verb and a noun. It can be someone on a quest to find treasures or the act of “gemming,” which means one is looking at auctions and flee markets, Anderton said.
“We like the idea of creating this persona around being a gemr,” he said.
Gemr combines collecting with Pinterest, eBay and Facebook. Users can post collections and comment on what other people share.
“Gemr is uniting that experience and allowing collectors of all types to share their passion … and educate the community,” said Dan Sullivan, business development manager at Gemr.
The site also has clubs where people with similar interests can communicate in a controlled forum. Each club has a full-time facilitator with knowledge or expertise on the topic. Some of the clubs include sneakers, Pez containers, comic books, musical instruments and antiques.
“Gemr is incredibly unique because there is nowhere online for collectors of all types to showcase their prized possessions, connect with people … and initiate transactions, all under the same roof,” Sullivan said.
For Anderton, collecting goes beyond the items themselves. He enjoys the history and stories each collector, and item, tells. One particular collection featured barf bags from around the world. This user collects them when he travels.
“It meant a lot to him and was a way to capture his travel log,” Anderton said.
In creating a new kind of website, the company faced its challenges. A site like Gemr relies on initial funding and community participation to succeed. Fortunately, Gemr raised the needed funding in a short period of time.
“One of the toughest challenges is to believe in the vision enough to put the original capital in and (then) getting people to support your belief and invest in it,” Anderton said.
After the funding is received, the company must get online participation by advertising. Thus another challenge is getting people aware of the site.
Gemr uses social media to excite users and promote followers. The company turned a van into a mobile studio for its web series.
“We committed to creating our own content in filming people that are collectors,” Anderton said.
They shoot how-to videos in an effort to introduce people to the different types of collecting. It has also proved useful for reaching their target audiences. In addition to the social media push, Gemr employees attend trade shows and comic cons all over the country.
“Gemr is going to be a huge success because of the phenomenal team we’ve assembled,” said Norm Archer, vice president of marketing. “It’s a committed group of startup veterans surrounded by talented engineers and marketers empowered to excel.”