COVID Mitigations and Enforcement – Tips to Help Business Navigate Uncharted WatersDecember 3, 2020
COVID, Technology, and the Legal ProfessionFebruary 25, 2021
As two entrepreneurs turned learning “the hobby” of sports-card collecting into a business, they relied on WilliamsMcCarthy LLP to give their startup business wings.
They call it “the hobby” – learning the ins and outs and finer points of collecting, buying, selling, and trading sports cards. And as they learned it, they found a wonderful community with a need for accessible, accurate data. With that, Card Ladder was born.
Returning to “the hobby”
Chris McGill, a data analytics afficionado, and Josh Johnson, a talented web developer and coder, began a love affair with sports cards the same way many do – as kids. They purchased their favorite field, court, and rink heroes’ cards, traded with friends, and managed their collections with all the heart and imagination of true fans. As they got older, those collections got stored away in boxes as the two pursued college and careers away from the fanfare of stadium lights. However, in 2016, McGill and Johnson came back to those cards and discovered a new level of interest in sports cards and trading – and a need.
“Like many of the collectors we meet in ‘the hobby,’ we came back to sports-card collecting in our 30s as an interest and an escape,” shared McGill. “As we became more invested and interested, we recognized that the industry desperately needed to aggregate and organize the amount of data available and make it accessible.”
Card Ladder is born
The two began learning everything they could about the data available through the various sports-card buy/sell/trade platforms. In 2019, they created a plan to build a business around analytical and theoretical approaches to sports-card collecting that puts curated, accurate, accessible, real-time data at collectors’ fingertips. This data is invaluable, whether collectors are just curious about the value of their collection or want to inform more serious buy/sell decisions.
In 2020, Card Ladder was launched amid a pandemic. In early 2021, the Card Ladder app became available on Apple and Android app stores. McGill and Johnson have been pleased with the response to both. Within the first week of its release, the app cracked the top 50 for sports applications, and the website continues to generate traffic for both its free and gated members-only content. Card Ladder has ventured into other areas of curated content and offerings, posting videos on two YouTube channels (Cardboard Chronicles, where they interview high-profile collectors and Card Ladder’s Sports Cards Culture, which features weekly episodes), doing Instagram live events, producing merchandise, and of course, providing ongoing analysis to feed their data-hungry audiences.
Turning a Passion into a Business
Creating the business model for “the hobby” was just the first challenge. Card Ladder also needed to address legal matters associated with operating the business. For that, they turned to WilliamsMcCarthy LLP and worked with partner Daniel Huntley to assist with corporate formation and governance matters for their start-up, as well as ongoing legal needs.
Having just graduated from law school in the spring of 2020 himself, McGill had a special appreciation for the skill and talent Huntley brought to the legal side of their start-up, which McGill describes as “extremely smooth” and Huntley as “professionalism personified.”
“As an entrepreneur, you don’t get days off – I haven’t had a day off since we launched,” McGill quipped. “Though I’m certain Dan and WilliamsMcCarthy have clients that are many orders of magnitude larger and more prestigious than Card Ladder, he is always available to share insight and advice, and that responsiveness is crucial.”
McGill believes the response to Card Ladder shows a need in this interesting, niche business and plans to enhance the company’s various content offerings. They plan to continue to produce and share content across platforms, expand offerings, and of course, add data and refine methodologies for enriching the sports card database at the heart of “the hobby.” While the stakes are higher, McGill and Johnson still consider this a passion project turned business and are grateful for the support of WilliamsMcCarthy LLP as they grow.