This is a follow up story for Tork Media LLC. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published almost 2 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
I started 2 complementary pandemic businesses in 2020:
buying and selling sports and Pokemon cards on eBay; and
offering card grading and authenticating services specifically for those same sports and Pokemon cards
I learned how to value the cards, what tools were needed, and made some large investments into education and technology. Today, I only focus on grading/authenticating and don’t sell cards anymore. The business is still doing about $10,000 a month.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
Because we pivoted from buying and selling cards to only focusing on grading, the ups and downs of the card market don’t impact us anymore. Before only focusing on grading, we were selling a lot of cards; but we also had to buy a lot. It was a volume game. And we spent nearly as much time tracking the card values from week to week as we were doing order fulfillment.
Having good, trustworthy partners is worth so much more money than actual money.
We also learned that showing video footage (seen below) of our card grading process helped potential customers see what can be done, unlike any other card grading competitor we have.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
We made many (and I mean ALOT of) mistakes when it came to buying low and selling higher with sports and Pokemon cards. As mentioned, card prices vary from week to week based on a ton of variables. It was literally like the stock market, except for the time it took for a card to drop in value extremely quickly, compared to the amount of time it took to acquire one, which took weeks.
So our biggest lesson was in the fact that no matter which cards were hot or trending, all of them needed to be graded. And it just so happened that the largest grading company on the planet (PSA) shut down their service entirely for several months because they were so backlogged. Which gave us a flood of new customers.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
We plan to open up a storefront to sell our graded cards, down in Arizona. The lease has been signed, and we’re acquiring stock right now.
In 5 years, we hope to be in the top 3 grading companies that all collectors turn to for authenticating and grading. We’re currently about the 10th spot.
Have you read any good books in the last year?
I like to read political books, and so the 2 most recent ones are:
1) Was Jesus a Socialist? By Lawrence Reed - National and global politics affect small businesses in many different ways, this book helped me see some ways in which I can understand how.
2) Present Concerns, by CS Lewis - No explanation is needed. Just a classic that describes our time perfectly.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
Having good, trustworthy partners is worth so much more money than actual money. I would rather have 2 good partners who excel at what they do than 100k in the bank.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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