LLast month, an anonymous bidder paid $12.6 million for a mint 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle baseball card, the highest amount ever for a sports memorabilia at auction. Naturally, the news electrified a rapidly growing market of collectors, traders and financiers who predicted that the next big asset class would not just be real estate, crypto or NFTs, but trading cards. physical sports.
The value of Mantle’s sale came as no surprise to a budding South Florida entrepreneur. On Instagram, he’d been talking about Mantle cards for weeks, even going so far as to hold another ’52 Topps Mantle card in front of the camera to promote what his company can do, which is to provide fast cash advances to sports owners from value. maps.
The name of the entrepreneur is Edward Siegel, CEO of Card Fi. Siegel is no stranger to the alternative finance space as he spent around a decade in the MCA industry, most recently as the founder of Bitty Advance, which he sold in 2020. Since then, Siegel has been returned to his roots and his first passion of his youth.
“I had a background in sports cards as a collector, you know when I was a kid, but in my early twenties I was promoting card shows in malls,” Siegel said. “I was very involved in the hobby, organizing the card shows and promoting them and doing player appearances where players come in and make an autograph appearance.”
It was the late 80s, early 90s, according to Siegel.
When Covid hit and he quit his last venture, he noticed a massive resurgence in the sports trading card market. His next venture eventually became Card Fi, a business that will assess the market value of a card and make a lead against it. There are obviously risks involved so they take possession of the card for the duration.
“We have to get our hands on those cards and we’re responsible for them, and then we keep them in our internal bank vault,” Siegel said. The cards are stored in a highly secure and air-conditioned environment.
Card Fi frequently shows off the vault in its Instagram videos. Such a venture requires large amounts of capital, so Siegel went in search of investors, a pursuit that led him to a unique place, an Instagram Live pitch contest hosted by the famous CEO and TV star- reality Marcus Lemonis. Siegel put himself forward as a candidate, knowing full well that the odds of even being chosen to pitch his company to Lemonis were about a million to one.
Somehow he was called to pitch.
“So [businesses] went there during quarantine and you started your business,” Siegel explained. “I went over there and threw it […] And he got it and he thought it made sense.
The moment eventually led to a deal with Lemonis’ company and Card Fi was on its way.
Siegel, on the other hand, dispels the idea that the fledgling trading card industry or his business is based on old vintage cards or that it is a universe centered around baseball cards.
“If we look at it, there are two different markets, you have the modern card market [where] I would say it’s basketball [that leads the pack],” he said. “For the vintage card market, that’s baseball.”
Football is also huge, he explained. A rookie card of Patrick Mahomes, for example, an NFL quarterback who is still currently playing, recently fetched $861,000. There’s only one in five like this in the world, with rarity playing a major role in value. Meanwhile, a rookie card from Justin Herbert, an NFL quarterback in just his third year, was already receiving offers in excess of $1 million as this story was written.
“It really depends on the card itself,” Siegel explained. “Some players may be known to have better careers, but then you have cards that are rarer to them. Something that is unique or maybe a very sparsely populated map and a ranked PSA 10 could very well be worth more than a [Michael] Jordan rookie because there’s a rarity in it.
Message of public interest refers to cards that have been verified as genuine and graded according to the condition of the card itself. Ten is the highest level a card can receive. Card Fi will only work with graded cards to avoid any fun business when it comes to advancing funds based on value.
Siegel explained that the average Card Fi advance is around $40,000 to $50,000. The maximum is currently $500,000. There is a large market for this type of financing, as Card Fi’s much larger rival, PWCC, just raised $175 million make similar offers to sports cardholders.
“This funding benefits the market, as loans and cash advances have become an increasingly demanded offering among trading card collectors,” said Chad Fister, chief financial officer of PWCC, in an article on the origin on Sportico. “Enabling our clients to access liquidity through a menu of capital offerings is essential as trading cards continue to prove a valuable tangible asset class.”
For Card Fi, customers who take an advance can track everything through an online portal, including details about their cards, payments and balance.
“We would like to note that we have built a full service automated underwriting and collection platform where whether it is the client or the broker they can login to our system and put the description of the card in the system and it will be automatically subscribed and priced,” Siegel said.
This description sounded like something straight out of the fintech industry of its past, particularly the component about brokers.
“Just like the MCA space, we have a whole partnership side, a broker side, where brokers can refer clients to us just like an affiliate where they just send the information,” Siegel said. Likewise, they can earn a commission if a transaction is completed, he explained.
In this industry, brands like Topps, Upper Deck and Panini have become Card Fi’s bread and butter. Even though it’s all business for Siegel these days, he couldn’t help but mention one particular card he had a personal attachment to.
“My favorite card in my collection is the 1965 Topps Joe Namath rookie card,” Siegel said. “Of course, being a die-hard New York Jets fan, this has to be my favorite card.”
Last modification : September 12, 2022