Media-ecommerce startup Minimums lets you learn about interesting people through their most beloved possessions

- August 20, 2015 3 MIN READ

If celebrity culture is anything to go by, people are curious about what other people have, especially if they’re cooler, richer and more famous. A startup based out of St Louis, Missouri, Minimums, is leveraging this curiosity to deliver what is essentially a dual media and ecommerce play. Minimums doesn’t just show you, as its motto suggests, “the most interesting possessions of the world’s most interesting people”, it also lets you purchase those items.

Why do the material possessions of people we admire pique our interest? It may seem superficial, but our possessions become extensions of ourselves. Our material possessions signal who we want to be and where we want to belong. Our curiosity with other people’s possessions demonstrates our longing to know more about them, especially when it’s celebrities, renowned individuals and public figures. We only know them from a distance.

Minimums, a product of Need/Want, allows users to get to know interesting people not just through their possessions, but also through the stories behind each of their featured possessions. The site features people like Noah Kagan, founder of AppSumo and SumoMe; product designer Marc Hemeon, who co-founded North and formerly worked at YouTube and Google; actor-comedian Jeff Cannata, who currently hosts the podcast series /Filmcast; and many more.

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Minimums front page

Minimums was founded by Marshall Haas, Jon Wheatley, and David Myers, who have also launched other products through their parent company Need/Want including Second, a text-based smart assistant; Mod Notebooks, a service that scans and digitises paper notebooks; and SmartBedding, which sells smartly designed manchester that eliminates the need to fix beds in the morning.

Haas, Wheatley and Myers, who moved from San Francisco to St Louis, were already looking to launch a media play before the idea for Minimums popped up internally.

“For a long time we’ve wanted to try our hand at a media company – this was finally the idea that stuck internally,” said Haas.

“The idea is simple: what are the most interesting possessions of the world’s most interesting people? Each post features someone at the top of their industry, and then we use a professional photographer that shoots them inside their home or office. The posts are very rich with beautiful photography and stories.”

Haas identified Every Day Carry as Minimums’ closest competitor, however stresses that unlike Every Day Carry, Minimums does not allow just anyone to set up a profile and list their belongings.

“We seek out only the most interesting people [around the world], and then convince them to let us feature them. I’d also say the story behind each item featured by a particular person is what’s most interesting … and great photography,” he said.

Haas admitted that connecting with these people is always going to be Minimums’ biggest challenge, but this will get easier as Minimums builds itself up as a strong media brand.

At the moment, Minimums’ ecommerce arm operates on an affiliate model. Every time a customer purchases an item featured on the site that is sold via Amazon, Minimums receives an affiliate cut. Interestingly, Minimums is also being used as a vehicle to advertise its parent company’s products, like its super thin iPhone case brand, Peel.

It won’t be surprising to see partnerships being formed – both on an advertising and affiliate front – between Minimums and other ecommerce companies in the upcoming months.

Minimum’s strongest point at the moment is its sleek design. You see photos of people tiled on the front page and very little text accompanying it: minimalism at its best. The candid photos immediately draw you in even if you’re not familiar with the people being featured. When you click on one of the tiles, you’re brought to a mini biography of that person, followed by their beloved possessions, and a more in-depth look at each of the items, including the personal stories behind them.

Minimums is beautifully voyeuristic; it acts as a window into the world of fascinating people. It takes advantage of the fact that people are naturally drawn to images of other people; it’s why apps like Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest have been so successful globally. But Minimums is also educational; you learn about people through their most beloved possessions. On top of that, Minimums gratifies our desire to have what other people have. All of these elements work together seamlessly through clever design.