And so it all began, with at least 100 ideas. During his travels, studies and career, Tom Nardone had created a whole book of them. Some were good, some were bad, and some even awful, but in 1998, he found a gem.
Tom figured that people would want to use the Internet to buy stuff privately. His theory was that some items were so embarrassing that people would buy them only from the world’s most private company. He formed that company, PriveCo.
Today, Tom seems like a genius, but back in 1998, you might have questioned him. SUCCESS Magazine thought he was onto something and profiled him and his new online store ShopInPrivate.com. Money magazine also did a piece about Tom, but they were less impressed. They jokingly called him a “net loser” and predicted that not creating a mailing list would be the downfall of his small, poorly-funded company.
That was a long time ago. Now, as president and CEO of PriveCo Inc., Tom’s focus is still on providing people the utmost privacy. Since 1998, more than 500,000 people have trusted Tom with their personal information, and he takes the trust of every single one seriously.
What are you working on right now?
Right now we are working on refining the websites. We have some great sites, and I want to make sure they don’t disappoint any customers. Here are some of our latest projects.
1. Bachelorette.com just got a cool new look. I am especially fond of its “splashy” new front page.
2. ShopInPrivate.com is getting some great new pages of information. The first series were pages about people’s sexual needs http://bit.ly/9sRIPB. The series we are working on right now is about embarrassing ailments http://bit.ly/au441k.
3. We also have recently started vibration testing and sound testing all of the vibrators we sell at Vibrators.com. This testing serves two purposes. First it ensures that the vibrators we sell are the quietest ones on the market. Second, it allows customers to choose products based upon their own needs.
3 trends that excite you?
Mobile devices that are connected via social networking. I like social networking, and I like mobile information, but what I really love is the ability to find out how my friends and family are doing when I get a free moment.
I am excited about the personal freedoms that come from the Internet. There has never been a way for people to do whatever they want, without anyone being able to find out. The Internet allows people to act how they want to without judgment.
Halloween as an adult holiday is fun for me. I enjoy Halloween, and ten years ago I created ExtremePumpkins.com to show my creativity. I like that other people enjoy Halloween too, and we are all turning this holiday into a creative celebration.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I carry a sketchbook almost everywhere. If I have an idea that I like, I write it down or sketch it out. No matter how silly or trivial the idea seems, I enjoy putting it on paper. I go for quantity over quality.
If I have an idea that is terrible, I share it for laughs. If I have an idea that is funny, I share that, too. If I have an idea that I think is good, I share that to see if anyone else likes it. If everyone likes it, even my most cynical friends, then I may move forward with it. But most of my ideas are happy to be left in the sketchbook.
What is one mistake you’ve made that our readers can learn from?
A long time ago I believed the media hype that predicted a new strain of pesticide resistant lice were coming. I invested in some lice removal products. When the hype didn’t turn into reality, I lost money.
I have since learned that media hype is not reality. When there is a slow news day, the media still has to find a top story. Then they pump up a lame story to make it sound exciting. I’ve learned not to invest my money using the nightly news as a source of research.
What is one book and one tool that helps you bring ideas to life?
I buy the finest blank paper sketchbook they have at the art supply store. Sometimes I even buy a handbound one at Etsy.com. I don’t use paper with lines. Lined paper is for people who follow the rules. That isn’t me.
I write with a Pilot G-2 pen. They flow like a river and write fast. They also are inexpensive, so I always have about 10 of them handy.
Finally, I find time in my life to think. I go someplace quiet where no one can bother me.
What is one idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I always thought that someone should make a double-layer condom. I’m sure that most condom use is for healthy sexual relationships, but I figure that at least some condom use is for dangerous situations. A double-layer condom would offer extra protection.
[quote] I always thought that someone should make a double-layer condom. I’m sure that most condom use is for healthy sexual relationships, but I figure that at least some condom use is for dangerous situations.[/quote]
What is the future of personal privacy?
It may seem like personal privacy is dead, but I don’t believe it. There is a need for privacy. People always have and always will want to do things that they do not want anyone to know about, and I’m not talking about morally wrong things, just private stuff. As long as people have a desire for something, they will create or use any service that provides it. I’m confident that the increase in e-mail newsletters and personalized shopping creates an advantage for us. The more times other companies bother their customers, the more customers will see the value of shopping with a business like PriveCo.
As the owner of a website like Vibrators.com, people have a preconceived notion of what you are like. What might surprise them? Well, I often get lumped into the “pornographer” type of mold (Larry Flynt, etc.), but I am not.
While pornographers make a profit from the mistakes of others, I don’t. Pornographers don’t generally pay royalties for their products, so once someone stars in a adult film (and cashes the roughly $1,000 paycheck), their career is essentially over.
I don’t participate in that process. We sell only adult toys — physical items that people can use for pleasure. Sure, both businesses are adult in nature, but I see a large moral difference between them.