Interview with Ryan Stuczynski from Gemrate

The following is an interview with Ryan Stuczynski, founder of Gemrate.

This week, Horacio sat down with Ryan Stuczynski, founder of Gemrate.com Gemrate is a population report primarily focused on tracking PSA data. His site gives insight into the pace with which PSA is grading cards, as well as the cards that are trending.

Discussion topics include:

  • Bringing transparency to the card grading space
  • Realizing the premium in value for a Gem Mint PSA 10
  • Difficulty with navigating the population reports on the PSA website
  • Market inefficiencies with the rise of grading base cards
  • Using social media as a way to deliver content through data
  • Monetizing Gemrate and balancing its growth and staying true to his vision
  • Creating a more accurate population report to provide a holistic view of grades across grading companies
  • Potential impact of new graders “playing it safe” with the grades they gave
  • Keeping lines of communication open with PSA while managing the site independently
  • The staggering numbers for certain cards that have been graded and its effect on prices


[HORACIO RUIZ]

Hi, I’m Horacio Ruiz, host of the Alts podcast. Today’s guest is Ryan Stuczynski. Founder of Gemrate. Gemrate is a database tracking the trends from the biggest card grading company in the business, PSA. This is a big deal because in the past PSA has been shrouded in mystery. And if there’s one thing card collectors care as much about their collection, it’s the condition of it. Ryan’s database tells a story of an industry on the move. Today he’ll bring that data to life, and we’ll find out that for every number, there’s a story to tell. Hope you enjoy. All right, we have Ryan here. We have the founder of Gemrate. Thank you for being here Ryan. 

[RYAN STUCZYNSKI]

Yeah, thank you for having me. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

So, when I stumbled upon your site, I was just blown away by how much data you had there. You know, you can kind of get lost in the numbers there, just like in terms of players, in terms of PSA data. For anybody maybe that isn’t aware of Gemrate and kind of what you’ve created there, could you give us a quick little summary of everything you’ve been working on? 

[RYAN STUCZYNSKI]

Sure. Yeah. So Gemrate right now, sort of the quick and dirty version of it, is it’s the sort of pop reports on steroids. And right now, it’s focused on PSA data. There is – you can also do an access BGS data within it. But the sort of, bulk of the work was oriented around PSA data. That’s just where a lot of momentum was in the hobby. And so, I spent the first few months of last year, in 2021, just getting the data sort of structured correctly, making sure that it was being pulled in consistently how I expected. And then in May of last year, I started publishing some reports on the data. As PSA shut down there was just a lot of talk about the backlog and what that could mean for the hobby. And so, I saw an opportunity to just start to put some information out there. To shed some light on what had been – what I was seeing through the data. And I did that for a couple months with sort of pretty much nobody noticing. But just continued to push it out there. And then in July of last year it was picked up by CardPorn. And that was sort of the jumping off point for Gemrate. We picked up tons of followers on Instagram, started to get some email signups. And so, from there, we’ve just been really continuing to push out content, but also the website itself is geared towards a few different use cases and really building that out. So, it’s part content and content in general is sort of a free part of what we’re doing. And then there’s the website, which is the app that we built to help people make decisions as it relates to improving their collection or maximising the value of their collection.

[HORACIO RUIZ] 

Yeah, it’s really unique because the content that you’re creating I guess, is different, right? It’s not the box breaking, it’s not the podcast, it’s not the commentary. Your content is the data, and it really sheds light on PSA. And I know you mentioned BGS as well, but PSA is almost like this monolith, right. And it’s almost shrouded in secrecy to some extent, and you’re kind of unveiling that. And I think it’s so interesting when you actually see the numbers. 

[RYAN STUCZYNSKI]

Absolutely. Yeah, I’ve been excited to just bring some transparency to the space. It’s kind of ironic because PSA was a public company with collector’s universe. But they were sort of notorious for not being that forthright with information and sort of just kind of doing their thing behind the scenes, even though they were public, and to the frustration of some of the investors. And they’ve never really sort of – historically had not provided a lot of, sort of macro views as it relates to their data and just help people understand trends. They’ve done some of that. So, sort of simultaneously as I was starting to do some of the reports for Gemrate, they were starting to become more transparent about their processes. And that’s in part due to the change of ownership. And so, there was clearly like a desire to start doing some of that. But you know there’s a lot of things that they’re doing behind the scenes, obviously from an operations standpoint. So content is a part of what they’re doing, but they have a lot of other things that they’re sort of focused on. And so, I just saw an opportunity to bring some transparency to the hobby. And it’s been exciting and really well received. I get a ton of notes from people just saying, “love what you’re doing” and “really appreciate that there’s finally some voice speaking to just like overall trends and sort of just like what the lay of the land looks like”. You know, helping sort of level set and provide context for – because everybody has such a strong opinion, great, you know. And the hobby in general, but for grading in particular, that just seems to be pretty polarising. And so, people are excited to have sort of data to support or challenge some of what had been historically thought to be – some assumptions about the space. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

Yeah, absolutely. I mean when you’re talking about the difference between a PSA 10 and a PSA 9, even for mid-level or lower-level cards, I mean, you’re talking a chunk of money. So, there’s definitely – when you’re messing with people’s wallets, right, you’re going to get some sort of reaction there. Let’s go back. I mean, because you mentioned at the beginning of last year you kind of started playing with the data and then eventually you ended up publishing it. What kind of drove you to start collecting the data to begin with? And what were you doing before you were working fulltime on Gemrate? 

[RYAN STUCZYNSKI]

Yeah. Great questions. So, the beginning of 2020, I sort of decided I was going to take the year off. I sort of had set myself up where I could financially take a year away from full-time work. I had been doing some consulting prior to that. I worked with a lot of early-stage startups, helping them build out their data infrastructure, collecting data, understanding of their data, better communicating with their users. And I was working on a project that actually related to finance, which is my sort of, my background. I worked in banking for seven years before I moved into the startup world. And I tabled that idea when I saw that, like so many I saw in July of 2020 on July 19th, I think it was, I saw that Lebron had sold for one $1.8million. And I had already been seeing little snippets here and there about cards picking up. And I just said, I have to figure out what’s happening here. I cared too much about cards when I was younger to sort of dismiss it. And I just started – I went full speed ahead into researching the hobby and consumed just hours and hours of content, whether that be some of the basic stuff you run into early on. Which was like a lot of the [unintelligible 00:06:37] stuff, a lot of the sports card investor stuff, which was really helpful just to get like a baseline. And then you start to go much more in depth to try to navigate like all the nuance of the hobby. And I was pretty shocked to learn about the nuance and grading wasn’t a big thing when I was younger. I’m 40 and so I was collecting in the late eighties, early nineties and grading wasn’t really on the radar then. And so, I was all about learning what to purchase. I purchased a lot of stuff quickly. And then – the trick is you had to learn how to sell, to sort of recoup a lot of what you spend. And I quickly learned that just the premium for a PSA 10 or anything Gem Mint. And so, it was all about trying to figure out how to maximise my spend and maximise the return on that. And so, I really started to dig into the pop report data, which I found super interesting. And you could just find some inconsistencies there, you could find opportunities to – again, there was the ratios that people were paying, premium people were paying for things like Gem Mint PSA 10 was five, six times a raw card at that time. And so, it was no surprise that especially with basketball, the premium had sort of become pretty dramatic at that stage. And so, I was just trying to figure out like, where do I want to create things to sort of maximise return? And I started to dig in these pop reports. And I just realised how hard it was to navigate them. I was so frustrated. I was trying to copy stuff to Excel. It was hard to even – if you didn’t know the exact details of the player, the set, the card number, it was hard find the information that you wanted. And so, I just became so frustrated, and I started thinking about a couple things. One, I thought PSA is a public company under collectives’ universe. It could be really cool to track what they’re doing. Because from an investment standpoint, I’m like that could be pretty telling around how they’re performing. And then from a card standpoint, I was like, ‘this seems like a no brainer to build something where – I’m trying to compare 2018, 2019 prism. I’m trying to compare parallels, trying to figure out where their cards that might grade – not grade at such a high Gem rate, that there could be an opportunity to find PSA 10’s that might be undervalued versus how the company is sort of receiving them. And so, I just was all in on this data, and it was just so hard to come by. And so, I just had thought about it for a couple months. I talked to a buddy in the industry, his name’s Jeremy Levine, and he kind of pushed me and he said, you know, this sounds like a pretty good spot for you and something that you are very passionate about. He’s like, you should go full speed ahead on it. And so come January of last year, the first of the year I just went all in on it. And so that’s all I’ve been working on full time since. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

It’s amazing. And so, if I can say, your background allowed you to kind do that because in the sense that you had a lot of training in data analysis and capturing numbers and being able to format it in a way maybe that people will understand. And I get your frustration when you mean, when you’re doing the pop reports, like when you’re on the pop report for PSA or BGS or even SGC, you’re kind of like, what am I looking at exactly? What do all these things mean, right. The information’s not straightforward. If you don’t really know what you’re looking for

[RYAN STUCZYNSKI]

Right.

[HORACIO RUIZ]

And you don’t even know where to find some stuff. 

[RYAN STUCZYNSKI]

Yeah. They’re not doing you any favours. PSA at least had to revamp their site at the beginning of 2021. Which was nice, but they’re still pretty much – I mean all these sites are still a work in progress. Even Gemrate is, but it was definitely frustrating and something I was excited to put to the marketplace.

[HORACIO RUIZ]

And you know, let me just add a note here for anybody that’s listening and isn’t familiar with the card grading system. It’s really fascinating because there was a point in time, right, where you could take a $1 or $2 card. And when we say a rock hard, it’s not in this plastic slab, it’s been graded on a scale of 1 to 10. You can take these $1 or $2 cards; you send them out for bulk grading for a couple of dollars. And then if you get that Gem Mint 10, 10 out of 10 is the highest you can get, you can sell this $1 or $2 card in some instances. I mean, I’m just going put out numbers there. But for a hundred dollar, two hundred dollar – and the difference between a PSA 10 and a PSA 9 was possibly anywhere in between that hundred dollars for, for the PSA 10 to that $1 and $2 for that raw card. There was an explosion to where PSA had to stop taking submissions. They essentially shut down, which was kind of amazing. Could you talk about that? Like when PSA said we’re not taking any more submissions, that was kind of an underrated story. 

[RYAN STUCZYNSKI]

You know, what you’re saying about the sort of the multipliers on taking a raw card and moving that to at least a PSA 9 and likely a PSA 10 in a lot of instances. Now that was a market inefficiency that a hobby quickly learned and exploited. And so, there was this base, this area that we had where everybody was very focused on base, which was uncommon historically, from what I understand. I’ve been out of the hobby for a long time, but people were pretty savvy enough to know you don’t really step into base cards. They don’t hold long term value. Yet in 2019-2020 you saw the rise of base. And then you saw the rise of grading as people became really in tune with the idea that you can do that, you can buy a car cheap, under 10 bucks and turn that into a quick hundred. And so, the hobby – a lot of people gravitated towards that concept. And PSA got flooded with submissions. And, you know, I don’t place any major blame on them for doing what they had to do, but they weren’t prepared for any of this. And so, I think that they were probably a little late to sort of recognising what was happening. And unfortunately, I think there’s people that are still suffering from kind of like their – just sort of like how they operated for a few months there when everything was sort of moving too fast for how well they had prepared. And so, they wisely though shut down grading at the end of March, and with an unknown backlog. And so then again, I mentioned this about sort of how I got into content, but there was just enormous amount of uncertainty around the hobby, around when were cards coming back, what kind of cards were getting graded? And in the midst of this, they were raising prices too. What happened though, to sort of what you were asking there, is that the impact of the hobby was substantial in the sense that it kind of killed the Wax game, because you could no longer get cheap $1 to $2 cards from opening a pack and flipping that and turning a profit. But at the same time Wax prices have declined. So, inflated by the idea of just people were paying high prices cause of this grading phenomena. Taking base cards and moving them into the slabs and selling them. So, you had this phenomenon where grading was fueling a lot of the Wax pricing, but then grading went away, the Wax pricing hadn’t calibrated yet. So, you had that. And then you had a lot of people who had money tied up, or cards in liquidity tied up in the grading world that they had no access to. And so, the low end of the market in particular really seemed the bottom out there. And the liquidity was pretty much crushed in the sense that people weren’t getting cars back to sell. And when people were getting cards back, the market had already sort of corrected. So, over the course of the summer, you started to see prices decline. They were getting cards back in a loss to what they were paying and grading as far as the prices had gone up. And so, you kind of had these few different factors that were basically fueling a large part of the – I want to say, well, let’s just call it a pretty substantial decline in the hobby. And I think grading was a big part of it for sure. The shutdown for PSA also, that could follow suit. You had SGC still trying to figure out exactly like what role they were going to play when new grading companies enter the space. So, it was a little bit of the wild west and candidly, a lot of people were in a bit of a holding period. I think their holding pattern in the sense that they just – they knew that they had cards that could be of value, but they didn’t know what to do with them. Still fighting that. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

Yeah, are you still finding people that submitted cards a year ago and they still really aren’t sure when they’re going to get them back. And I want to get into the data that you’ve accrued on gemrate.com. And to me from the outside looking in, there’s two ways to look at it, right. From, from a macro view, right. You can look at the kind of PSA statistics, and kind of what they’ve been up to on a – you update your site every day. So, you can kind of see how much they’re grading on a day-to-day basis and view the industry from that lens, how they’re going about their business of grading. How quickly are they turning these cards around? And then on the other end, you can kind of look at the cards themselves. Like, what are the cards that are being graded? How many of them have been graded and what is that percentage of the Gem, right? The Gem Mint 10 that they’re getting. So, I’m interested in that. Do you find that people are more interested in their card and how many times they’ve been graded and the statistics behind that? Or are they more interested in the information you’re providing in terms of PSA? 

[RYAN STUCZYNSKI]

That’s a Great question. And I think one of the things I’m trying to do is I’m trying to not force people to come to the site to find value. So, my – the following for Gemrate was pretty quick on Instagram. Because I think people really like the information about just what’s happening, the macro stuff as it relates to PSA, getting a view into sort of how they’re trending within that, what categories are doing and how they’re looking and what’s trending within that. And then I also publish – so I publish just overall trends. How many cards are being graded, what that pace sort of would look like over the course of a year, how that would translate from a volume standpoint, I look at the different categories. What’s been the most graded. I look at the different players, which is a very unique view. Like that’s never really been shared in the hobby, sort of just like if you look at all cards graded, how does that shake out from a player’s standpoint? I look at the different sets. I look at the different cards. Anyways, people get a window from that. I try to deliver that into where people are already consuming content. So, I deliver a lot of that into Instagram, Twitter as well. I’m sort of have find a bigger following there. So, I’d say some of it gets consumed outside of the website I built, which is totally fine. That’s kind of the vision I had. And then when people have more specific questions or quickly trying to find context. So, I would say Gemrates role, the site itself, most people come to the site because they want quick context or sort of ere in discovery mode as it relates to a player or a set or a card. And so, they’ll come there, and they’ll say “hey, I want to learn about Zion, or I want to learn about Chris Middleton”, for example. And you can kind of go both ends of the spectrum there. And Gemrate will tell you how many cards have been graded. You can dig in to see how that’s trending over time. You can figure out sort of – for me, for example, with the Chris Middleton one, that’s more interesting for me because [unintelligible 00:16:26] was out of the hobby at that time, I can quickly learn which cards did he have at the time where his rookie cars were the ones that sort of have some traction from a grading standpoint. Has momentum changed at all? So, one of the things that we did with Gemrate early on, the decision I made that I think is pretty important to how I sort of want this business to continue over the long run, which is we collect this data every day. So, we have very granular data around what is that population trend looks like? And are you seeing acceleration in it? Are you seeing things slow down as things maybe peaked? So, it’s just quick context is the short answer. And that’s how a lot of people come to the site. So, the macro stuff, a lot of people consume on social. People do come to the site for that too. And they subscribe to our email. But for the site, it’s usually when people have a little bit of an opinion, but don’t really know what to do yet. They just have a hunch that something could be interesting. And so Gemrate usually is like the launching off point or the jumping off point. And then they’ll go to the card ladders and the market movers, or they’ll go straight to eBay. But we’re pretty early in the discovery phase. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

As you’re talking and I’m listening to the development. And let me just, for first off, are you a one-man team? How do you get all this data in there and how many moving parts are there to the business?  

[RYAN STUCZYNSKI]

Yeah, so it’s a one-person team right now in that I’m the only employee. I do have resources that I can tap into when I need to, for data tasks and things like that. And then I have a design agency called the working assembly that I work with very closely. And for the most part though, I sort of intentionally have made this a project that I wanted to take on. It’s a full-time project. So, it’s not – project might be underselling it a bit. It’s full-time focus for me. And a lot of it was for data collection. So, it’s just building and writing code to collect this data programmatically in a reliable manner – reliable fashion. Then it was moving towards designing an experience on site, which I’m still improving. There’s still a ton of work to do there to remove friction. And then there’s a lot, the content, the content stuff is candidly the thing I’d like to sort of farm out sooner than later, in the sense that there’s nothing really unique about my view of the world and how I’m sort of analysing this data, but yet I’m still doing it and I’ve been doing it now since the start. And I need to start handing stuff like that off. But yes, it’s been me, but in 2022 that’s no longer going be the case in the sense that I need to start sort of scaling what I’m doing from a product standpoint and sort of outsourcing some of the other work. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

You know what you just said, And I was going to say this too, was, listening to you speak, I feel like there’s definitely an innovation there, right? We were talking earlier about the space and the amount of money that’s coming into the card industry still relatively small, but we talk about Dibbs, and they’re fractionalising shares, but then putting that on the blockchain. Right. And they’re being invested in by Amazon. You have this huge change with fanatics basically taking over the entire card industry. When I look at your site though, I mean I definitely see the innovation there man. I see that there’s a service you’ve been able to streamline some of this data and in a way that’s digestible. But at the same time, it’s not just a few numbers, right? There’s so much data there, but it’s easy to get. What I mean by that is – and just one of the features of your site, I have an Etro Suzuki personal collection, right. So, I’m just kind of going in there and wondering how many Etro cards are there. And man, I was blown away to find out that there’s thousands of cards. I don’t know what the number is now, but I was like, wow, I didn’t realise there were that many Etro cards. You mentioned that you feel like it’s not unique. Right. But I don’t think there’s too many sites that are able to get that data from PSA and kind of put it in a way that’s easily accessible, I guess, is the best way I could put it. 

[RYAN STUCZYNSKI]

Yeah, no, I appreciate that. I think we definitely want to stand for accessibility. So, bringing data to the market that’s hard to come buy or doesn’t exist. And ultimately like the vision for what we’re doing is to facilitate storytelling. This is a hobby that people like to throw around the word valuation in sort of more traditional markets like stocks, for example. And that’s a little bit of a grey area as you start to step into sports cards. And so, I think a bit more storytelling and the more that we can put data front of people to support their thesis’s and make them feel good about where they’re investing their time, energy. Either that could be for just building a great collection or for actual investment purposes. So, we think about it right now we’re focused on the supply side, because that’s the data that was available, that was sort of where there was the most pressing need in the sense that people just didn’t have great visibility. And you know, we’d like to venture into other parts as well, but we’re taking our time. This is a bootstrap company that I want to be really thoughtful about. What are the needs that the audience has? So where does the hobby sort of need to Gemrate to focus its attention? And I don’t want to be distracted by outside voices in sort of certain timelines to dictate that. So, I’ve been really mindful of that as I’ve approached just like how to fund this and sort of how to make this a sustainable business. So it’s moving a little bit slower in the sense that there’s a ton that I want to do, but I think we’re being really thoughtful and I want to make sure this data is trusted. And I feel like we’ve done a lot of that. So that was sort of like the baseline or the foundation that we wanted to put in place in 2021. But the reality is we’re using data that exists. And we’re just making it easier to use. And I’d like to continue to build on that. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

In terms of you building the site and building the company, you took the year off last year, you’re in a position to do that. Have you been able to monetize the site? have you been able to – I don’t know if you’re thinking about putting ads on there, I don’t know, have you been able to kind of see some returns?

[RYAN STUCZYNSKI]

So the short answer is I have not monetized it yet, other than I have an API client right now. Which is a lucrative business, but it’s just one client and they’re on a pretty good deal right now in the sense that they’re basically helping to test the data to make sure that it looks consistent and as they would expect to build out what they’re doing. So there’s a little bit of a B2B side of this equation. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

When you say API client, what is it? 

[RYAN STUCZYNSKI]

It’s another service that is using the population data within their tool. So if you think of the card ladders of the world and stuff like that, that’s not who’s the client there. But if you think about them and sort of all these other tools that are collecting population or don’t have it right, they would want that in their experience. It’s just been so hard to come by. One of the angles, or sort of ways that we can monetize this business is to provide that data to them. That’s a little bit like a short-term vision though, because the reality is we’re sort of doing what PSA should eventually be doing as well. And Becca and SUC and all these guys, they should really be making this data publicly available. And they they’re just far from doing that yet. But that will really help them establish an ecosystem around, their role in the hobby. And so I’m not counting on that as being a long-term revenue stream. So where I was going with that is there’s this – the SAS product that I think about, which is some element of premium. We’ll have a free tier that you should get, hopefully a lot of value from. And then for the people that are sort of the data nerds like myself that want to really dive deep, then will have some sort of plan that we’ll chart. But the idea is not to make this some sort of very expensive tool that is cost prohibited. We want to make it generally available to people that want it. So try to be mindful of that. Fully considering that I don’t think this hobby and the amount of people that will pay for tooling is as big as people think. So, on your point earlier around the amount of funding that’s coming into the space, I still think it’s a pretty frugal hobby. I think hobby being an important word there is that most of the discretionary income goes towards the cards themselves, the transactions. And so tooling is still something of a newer phenomenon here. And so I’m not pulling myself into believing this is some hundreds of thousands of user type of opportunity. So I’m trying to be thoughtful about that. And that’s candidly why I didn’t want to monetize yet, is that I wanted to one window sort of what this data looks like and what it could look like and where people can find value in it. And two, I need to understand sort of like how much did people value this data and what were they doing with it? And so there’s a subscription model that will eventually be put in place. I think you mentioned ads, I don’t think we’ll do ads, but we will probably do like affiliates, right. Because this is, I mentioned, this is like earlier in the discovery process. And so people will – I never envision a world where people are transacting on Gemrate, but we can help take you to marketplaces. We can help take you to tooling. And so there’s – those are sort of the primary three that I think of initially. So the API, B2B, the SAS app, which will be B2C and then also some affiliate relationships as well. Or sort of the primary vehicles. And then there may be some sponsorship and stuff like within that, but that’s more oriented around the content. That’s not a focus of mine right now. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

I hear what you’re saying about all these different revenue streams that you can have potentially. But then what do you think – do you ever think about the data right, card ladder basically was doing what you – they’re pulling data, but just for sales, right? And then they get acquired by collector’s universe. We don’t know for how much, but you can assume that it was a pretty penny. Do you ever stop and think about that? 

[RYAN STUCZYNSKI]

Totally, I mean I like to think about just where this tool needs to fit and sort of the big picture of the hobby. And I was excited to see what happened there, because it sort of gives me a view into how people are going perceive something like that. Is it good for the hobby? Does it present challenges? Conflicts of interest? And you see a little bit of both. Some people are excited and rightfully so that will be able to scale – It’s still a pretty a fairly small database to a much larger one, much quicker than they would’ve, had they stayed independent. And the flip side of that is just they’re going to have a stronger opinion about PSA in sort of the way they present data and how they think about what they’re doing and how they want that to sort of integrate and play into their future plans. So you see some skepticism there. For me as it relates to Gemrate. So by, I didn’t really touch on this earlier, but it’s kind of the view of the world here is that I think total pop is missing. That’s kind of what I’m referencing is just like combined population is sort of the actual view of supply, right? And it’s narrowly been viewed through the lens of creating companies because that’s just the way the data was presented. It’s also favorable for sellers to keep things as narrow as possible because it makes supply look limited, right. But the reality is there’s actually much more in play. And so this concept of total pop is something that I want Gemrate to own which is, what does it look like when you actually factor all the grading companies? Or the most prolific ones at least. And just to close that point is, I don’t know if that’s something that should be within another company or should be independent. And I think it’s important. What think about this business, I’m building it to be sustainable and independent first and foremost? If something were to happen down the line, that makes sense.  I’m sure I’ll at least be willing to have conversations to understand what that could look like. But the goal here is to build something that is sustainable from start. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

I see what you’re saying about the total pop and I kind of want to get your opinion here. In some ways though, the pops are separate, right. Because in the sense of this, and this is just kind of like an opinion, you take the difference between a PSA 10 card for any given card just about, and then an SGC 10 or a BGS 10, and the price discrepancy, right? The value, the discrepancy and value there is astounding. For whatever reason, for whatever reason. And so it’s almost like the total population is important. You got to know how many of these tens are out there. How many nines are there between all the different grading services. But there’s already the segregation based on a grading company because of the value that each is perceived to have. What are your opinions on that? 

[RYAN STUCZYNSKI]

Yeah, no I mean I think that’s fair. I think that I would never strip out that context. So if we were to present total pop, you would still be able to drill down and see what does that look like across the landscape? But for example, I’m collecting a set that’s the 2014 Excalibur Boom set. And It’s only basketball. And at that time, BGS was the leader in the marketplace. Right. But you know, through the lens of booms today, everything you hear about and think about is PSA. I Guess that’s sort of when the hype picked up and it’s been over the last 18 months that the booms have been all the rage. And so if you were to look at it through the lens of PSA, you’d think the population was much smaller than it is. It’s only 170 something through PSA that have been graded over the seven to eight years that sets been out. But when you look at PGS, the numbers closer to 500. And so if you were just looking at it, people – and the other thing is PSA grades that set significantly harder than BGS does. And so if you’re looking at gems for that set, you think it’s – if [unintelligible 00:27:52] as a PSA, you think there’s only 33 cards across a 50-card set that have ever been PSA 10 over the life of that set. But then you factor in what’s happening with the BGS side of the world. And there’s been a couple of hundred that are Gemmed. And the total population is over 500 across the 50 cards. So anyways, if you don’t have that context and you just go and you look at it through the lens of PSA, which is what a lot of people try to do to present that set as being more rare than it is, it could be pretty misleading. And you can make incorrect decisions about the market. So my idea is not to strip away sort of the nuance, it’s just to provide a holistic view. So you can actually understand the nuance of “hey, the market was at a different place five years ago”. BGS was actually the leader and you would pay more for BGS. You would go out of your way to grade with PGS and that shifted. And so those things play out over time in how where sort of supply sits and sort of how the population shake out. But you can’t – you need a tool to be able to present that. And it would be hard to sort of – if you were coming in without that context, it’d be hard to navigate. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

That’s a great point, especially when you have certain companies marketing it a certain way, right? Like you mentioned, they stated there’s all only seven PSA 10’s in existence, but it’s like, wait, well, you know, there’s other grading companies, right? And so it’s not that PSA 10, that Gem Mint 7 pop is not a hundred percent accurate in terms of what’s out there. 

[RYAN STUCZYNSKI]

Yeah. I think it’s just for the benefit of the seller most time, I don’t think it’s incorrect. Right. I just think it’s not necessarily painting the full picture and I don’t see any reason to not at least have the data available to help people understand the broader Context. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

Absolutely. Let’s talk about PSA a couple days ago. You and I, I think we listened to the same podcast. Kevin Lenane, the PSA president said that there’s a backlog of 6.7 million cards. And your site does a great job of kind of putting out there like how many cards are being graded each day by PSA. Some of the stuff that you can glean off of that is pretty amazing. Where’s PSA at right now in terms of grading cards per day, and based off of the backlog by when would that be done? 

[RYAN STUCZYNSKI]

Yeah. good questions. And I love that the transparency that this new team has brought. That is very vocal and very transparent which I very much appreciate. And Kevin seems to follow suit there, which is awesome. So I appreciate that they’re trying to communicate as much as they can without sort of showing their cards. To agree that would be sort of irresponsible, or just venturing into the unknown. But that 6.7 million is a good number. That’s the first time that they’ve sort of quoted the backlog on the record. And it was a little bit under the radar, and it was fun that we both caught that. But you didn’t see too much press about it, because it was just on a podcast and it was sort of just tucked in there and it wasn’t necessarily the headline. And so that 6.7 million numbers interesting. And it’s important. It’s not totally clear if that’s the true backlog in the sense of – I personally believe that PSA is going to always carry some backlog just to give themselves a little bit of a buffer. And so I think that’s 6.7 million – I don’t know if that’s actually like the total addressable backlog that they feel is – that they just have to ship out to be caught up. Or if that’s sort of the, what I will call like the addressable backlog, which is like “hey, we actually have an 8 million backlog and we want to get 6.7 out to be to a place that we think, this is the new normal and sort of have a little bit of a buffer there. But anyways, that 6.7 is what they came to, or went public with. But I think is super interesting. And basically PSA has said they’re devoting 80% of future capacity towards that backlog. And if you run the math – they also said in that interview that they’d like to be caught up on the backlog by the Fall. And so, you put that at eight or nine months, you can back into the math of if 80% of the volume goes towards that. Just to quickly touch on one thing you mentioned, they’ve been doing about 700- 800,000 cards a month. Which is about double the output that they had done in 2020. So they basically doubled output in 2021, and they’re doing 700-800,000. To clear out that backlog though, they’d have to basically average something around 900,000 to a million cards a month. And they’re not there yet. They’re only doing about 800,000. So it factors that they’re going ramp capacity pretty meaningfully over the course of the next few months here to sort of hit that average of a million a month let’s call it, to sort of clear out that backlog. And so it’s pretty telling though that they’re – no surprise, but it’s cool that they are sharing that information and giving some visibility around it. And it’ll be exciting to see sort of how they ramp capacity, because this ultimately comes down to number of bodies they have to make cards. People think that PSA has a lot more creators than they do. And it’s a very real challenge for them to sort of scale those operations. And you can open centers all across the country, but the reality is you need training, and you need to vet, and you need experts. And so that’s a process. It’s a slow process. And so they don’t have a team of more than maybe let’s call it, round, give or take ten. But a hundred graders that are putting out this crazy volume. And so they are – it may be 110, 120, but it’s not a huge team. It’s not 400 people. And so ultimately it comes down to them finding bodies that are consistent graders and, to hit that million numbers going to be very interesting, because they’re clearly not there yet. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

A Million cards a month. I just Marvel at the number and I kind of wonder, there’s so many people sitting on their cards. How do you store all those cards? I mean just the thing I get is I get this picture of this massive warehouse and people are just kind of working nonstop. Do you have any numbers on the actual number of graders because then I’d be interested in seeing how many cards are being graded per person? How many cards are being graded per person per day? Right. because that has a spill-over effect. Like how well can somebody create a card if they’re turning them over every minute or two, right?

[RYAN STUCZYNSKI]

It’s a good question. I don’t know definitively, but there’s anecdotes that you can sort of piece together where they’re at and it’s – so at they’re a registered public company and in their annual filings they would put in the number of graders they have. And I think at the end of the middle of basically 2020, they had 30 graders, 30 or 34 graders, something around there. And then you can hear through some of the transcripts and some of the conversations that [unintelligible 00:33:50] had that they basically have three X to four X, that grading team. And so you can easily assume that there’s somewhere between like a hundred and 125 graders. And then when you start to run the math it’s almost basically like a card a minute. Which is not a lot of time obviously. And so you rightfully heard a lot of people in the hobby sort of questioning quality. PSA was in a spot where I couldn’t win. It had this backlog, and everybody wanted to clear it, but yet at the same time people were saying quality was a concern and consistencies a concern and rightfully so, people were asking those questions. And I do think you saw some of that over the summer where Gemrates dropped pretty meaningfully. And I think people were carrying that to PSA, potentially controlling population and trying to have a little bit of a stronger opinion. That’s sort of what the markets should look like. And I think the reality was it was just a bunch of new graders that were being onboarded that were playing it safe or sort of rounding down. And there’s a few reasons for that. But I think that impacted the market much more than people realised. And I think we’ve seen that sort of recalibrate over the last few months where Gemrates are probably much closer to where they historically have been. The challenge with that is I think people always want to argue about which grading companies tougher. And I would just say, I don’t think that actually mattered. I think what matters is the grading companies are consistent. And so you know what you’re walking into. And so, you run into this problem where people submitted cards at any given point of 2021 or 2020, and you’re sitting in this year window where your cards are return to you. You might have fallen in that short window where Gemrates were down and you’re kind of just screwed. Because that’s when your cards got graded and that really had nothing to do with you. It’s just the period of time that you ran into, PSA sort of calibrate things. So anyways, those dynamics have to sort of improve because I think that’s really problematic. And I think they’re very focused on that. But it was very interesting to see. So anyways, it’s been very interesting to see sort of what they’ve been doing internally. And again, they’re very vocal about hiring graders because that is really the key point of leverage to scaling their operations. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

Gotcha. Do you have a line of communication with PSA in any shape or form? Like in the way that you gather your data, have they reached out to you, you reach out to them or are you just kind of collecting this information independently? 

[RYAN STUCZYNSKI]

I know the team there.  I’ve talked to them a little bit. Sort of brainstorm a workshop, just like, getting the data how I ideally would like to get the data from them. It’s in their best interest to sort of again, make this data more publicly available. And so I know some of the team there, we don’t talk frequently and sometimes they’ll sort of shoot me a note and just say hey, you know, we like what you’re doing. They’re okay with what I’m doing, but they also have things that they want me to keep an eye on or, or sort of, for example, one thing that I have to be cautious about is – and I’m usually okay talking about it, but this is how many cards PSA has graded. And the reality is it’s actually the amount of cards that have showed up in the pop report. And there’s nuance to that. I use graded as sort of shorthand for this is how many cards have showed up on the pop report. And that generally translates to how many cards have been graded, but there’s nuance than that. There’s re-holders, there’s other sort of things to consider there. And so we’ll talk about some of that stuff every now and again, especially for like high value cards that they want to make sure the information’s being accurately portrayed to the hobby. So it’s a very infrequent line of communications, but I do know the team. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

Yeah. I know, you know that relationship, right. You have to sort of be partners, but you also kind of want to keep that a little bit of distance, right. Because what you’re doing, what you’re working on is an independent business, that people need to see that you’re not kind of affiliated with them necessarily or tied to them. And that there’s no sort of compromise there. I mean, I don’t know if that’s correct?

[RYAN STUCZYNSKI]

No, that’s a hundred percent. The fact that I even have line of communication, doesn’t impact anything I’ve ever put out. It just helps me understand. Okay. When it’s important to make sure at certain times that I’m speaking to items that have showed up on the pop report, as opposed to sort of just broadly saying things are graded, because it just might lead down a path that’s unproductive. And so it’s a good checks and balance in the sense of making sure that I focus on – this is data that’s coming from the pop reports as to speaking specifically to what’s been graded because I actually don’t know that level of detail. PSA doesn’t share any information with me as it relates to what’s going on behind the scenes. And so everything that we do is inferred from the pop reports. And so there’s a little bit – maybe they’ve even come out and put out their own data now, which is great. I’m glad that they are actually coming on, doing their own monthly reporting and sort of, they just started this last month saying like, “here’s a summary of the month”. They’re doing it much slower than Gemrate is, but it’s generally the same idea. We’re just going to be publishing this on a daily basis and getting really granular into the trends and nuanced into sort of that view of the world. And they’re going to stay much more big picture, but I’m glad that they’re also coming out there and sort of validating some of the work we’ve been doing. And ultimately there’s a little bit of discrepancy because they’re talking about the items that have been graded and I’m talking about the items that have showed up in the pop report, but big picture, it’s same concept. Same themes. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

You know, we talked about the PSA view and then you can get into the nitty gritty, right? Like the cards themselves. And so you have a list of the top 100 graded cards of all time, the 500 graded cards and you go all the way down to a thousand. And that list is just so fun. I could spend hours on that list just with the first 100 alone. And you really get a kind of a feel just looking at the top 10, right? You really get a feel for the impact of the amount of people that were sending their cards in that mania, right. Where they were getting those base Zion Williamson, John Morant, right. And those cards are in the top, correct me, I think Zion is like number four or something like that. All time graded card, the base card, the base panini, which is amazing to me. And it kind of speaks to – I know it’s a common term now the junk slab era, where any card is slab now. I mean, it doesn’t matter whether it was from the dollar pile at the card store or whatever or your million-dollar card or whatever. But it’s just like there the proliferation right, the output of slabs is everywhere. Whereas, when I first started collecting cards, I was only going send out stuff that I thought was very valuable. And then like you said, there was that inefficiency and now it’s fascinating to see how that’s caught up. And I don’t know if you could talk about that. Like I know that your site’s not set up for necessarily in terms of looking at prices, but there’s been consequences from that, right? 

[RYAN STUCZYNSKI]

Yeah. I mean, it’s, it’s pretty staggering too. When you look at that data, I was excited to put that into the market because it was sort of tracked by hand by a few people and it was pretty hard to do. And so now you can program and see that for PSA. You can see that for BGS, we’ll have SGC up there soon. And you know, what you see when you quickly look at that though, is like two pretty distinct eras that were filled with enthusiasm. And then you see these large gaps in that. And you see the late eighties, you see the Griffies of the world, you see some of the carts from the early nineties, some of the Jordans and things like that. And then you see this big gap until the late 2018, 2019, and that activity really spiked again. And so you have these two – you have the junk Wax, the junk Slab era that shows very quickly in that data, which is it’s again, it’s staggering to see something like the 1989 upper [unintelligible 00:40:26] juniors being graded 86,000 times. It’s just like that’s graded. Right. And it just shows you, you can only imagine how many of those cars were printed over that period of time. And that’s just one grading company and all these other things to consider. And then you have the Zion on the other side of that, which is the most gemmed card of all time. The most PSA 10’s out there, which is crossed 20,000, which was kind of like a funny milestone in the hobby. It’s not one that you really want to celebrate. But it was certainly talked a lot about in the sense that it was representative of sort of like the times that we’re in. And you’ve seen the hobby sort of back to that, it was sort of this premium for liquidity that existed in 2020 and into 2021, which is, we wanted have cards that you can move quickly and people paid a premium for that. I would say that that was one of the things that people were really factoring, which is like cards that you could move quick you pay a little bit more for, because you knew you could get rid of them. And they were basically as good as cash. And so you saw base cards sort of really becoming where people were focusing their attention because they knew they could move them. And they knew they could move them in large volume. But what wasn’t really fully understood was how large that volume was and sort of like what the trajectory for that volume was going to look like. And you started to see some of these pop reports really get to some of these large numbers and people started to step back and say like, okay, what are we really doing here? And you’ve seen sort of these prices follow suit in the sense of, now that the supply has – it’s just clear that the supply far outweighs the demand under almost any scenario. And people are very savvy to not think about like, where do these cards go? When people aren’t asking for them, who holds the bag is always what you’re hearing. And so prices reflect that now of the fact that there’s not a lot of people ultimately that want to hold on to 20,000 base Zions. Even though this market might be large, not only is it base prism, but there’s also all the parallels, there’s all the different sets. And so there’s not a market for a lot of these base card that have higher populations and the prices have cratered as a result Of that. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

Yeah. I think that the most telling one for me was Rui Hachimura. He’s in the top 100 of all time graded cards. And this is not to take a shot at him. I mean, he’s a great college player, Gonzaga. He’s had a decent pro career. But it’s like when you consider all the cards that are out there, right. That you could possibly grade, and Rui Hachimura is in the top one hundred. That just kind of a gave me a little chuckle. I don’t know. 

[RYAN STUCZYNSKI]

Yeah, no, it’s wild. I mean, you look at that, you have [unintelligible 00:42:34] of the world and things like that that are very high on these lists, and it just shows you sort of like how speculative this market is, how much attention goes towards the prospects, how much of a sort of you want the role that grading played. You mentioned this earlier in the podcast, but Grading was fractions of the price it was – is now, two years ago it was $10 to $20 a card maybe to grade it. And now we’re talking about a hundred just to get in the door at PSA. And so, you have people throwing these cards out there just seeing what would hit the Gem and then flipping them pretty confidently. And so yeah, the market – the data certainly reflects that phenomenon. It’s almost certainly, we’ll never see that again. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

Yeah. If you’re a card nerd or even if you’re just a stats nerd, right. The site is just full of wonders I guess, and just the amount of stuff that say like that Nolan Ryan rookie card with the Jerry [unintelligible 00:43:19], it’s in the top 100, but it’s only got one, there’s only – I didn’t realise there’s only one Gem Mint, which is also pretty awesome. 

[RYAN STUCZYNSKI]

Yeah. That’s a grail card for me, for sure. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

A hundred percent grail card. And also just the fact that Ken Griffey is the number one and two, has a number one and two graded cards of all time. And he’s got four cards in the top 10. And so, just kind of, to me puts in perspective the kind of impact that Griffey had. Right. I mean, he was, that backwards cap. I remember kids imitating him when we were playing in the sand lot and we kind of forget that, right? Like Ken Griffeys kind of like an afterthought now. But the numbers like that kind of give you an idea of the impact that the athlete had at the time because cards kind of reflect that right. Cards in a lot of ways kind of reflect the status of certain athletes at a certain point in time. 

[RYAN STUCZYNSKI]

Totally. I mean, he’s in that rare fight era of being iconic. And I think that’s the hobby’s always trying to like wrap it head around and like what qualifies and how do you get there? And it’s a small step. But yeah. I mean, it’s just funny. You see the Ken Griffey and then yeah, not far below that Rui is there. And it’s just sometimes hard to grasp what exactly happened. I’m sure people will look at this 20 years from now and be like what was going on? What could they have possibly been thinking? 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

And its crazy times, but you know, it’s times like this that makes it so interesting to be in this space. What trends do you see? And if I can point one out right now, please add on to any other trends that you spot. I saw that by a pretty good amount. Soccer is the fourth most graded category, right? And then the NHL is fifth? And I don’t know if that speaks to the lack of popularity with hockey cards or if that speaks to the spike and popularity with soccer and with the world cup coming up and everything in the summer. I don’t know if there’s any other trends that you could add on to that? 

[RYAN STUCZYNSKI]

Yeah, no I think it’s twofold. I think that the soccer one’s an important one and I think you’ll see a lot more attention paid to that this year with world cup. And I think it’s partially just production. You know, the manufacturers paid a lot more attention to it. They produced a lot more product and there was demand for it. And then a lot of the same phenomenon’s that we were seeing with basketball in particular where basketball sort of had the largest multipliers for graded cards. Saw a lot of that with soccer too. And to the flip side of that, you didn’t see that with baseball, you didn’t see that with hockey. Those multipliers kind of helped. So what I mean by that is you would see a raw card to PSA 10 multiplier would be like five X in basketball, but that never really left like the three X world at baseball. And hockey kind of was in more of the baseball class there. And you saw soccer with some outsised multipliers. So anyways, you had a lot of people grading cards. And that trend for sure is something that we’ve seen pretty much since I started collecting the data since Gemrate started publishing this data. Soccer’s been a solid number four there, and hockey’s been pretty distant as either five or six. You are seeing some increased momentum for hockey, which is cool to see. I’m not from Cleveland and we don’t have a hockey team. So I haven’t followed hockey as closely as I had other sports over the years. But I’m learning a lot about it. It’s very interesting and there’s increasing amount of momentum pointing towards hockey now, because when people are trying to find pockets of the hobby to invest in that aren’t getting crushed with over supply, and hockey is more where people are starting to focus their attention. Another quick trend that we’ve seen, that’s going be interesting to see how it plays out over the next few months is that Pokémon in particular. And TCG, which is sort of the category it gets wrapped up in, Gemrate and by PSA that has had a crazy rise over the last five or six months. And it’s just now I would say just in January, it started to show some signs of falling number two to basketball again. But I mean, that was at the top of our charts last three months. And it’s staggering numbers of Pokémon cards that are being put into the marketplace. We’ve seen that the other trends that we’ve been looking at, they’re really less about the Gemrate data as a whole, and just, we have some stuff that we’re seeing from like a market standpoint that is interesting to see. I have all these different theories about sort of like pricing and sort of how things need to correct. But it’s all related to supply, but it’s not necessary directly related to what we’re presenting on Gemrate. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

I hear you. I mean, it’s hard not to look at the data and then try to make some correlation with the prices. Right. I mean in terms of individual sales or even industrywide numbers, right. And then when you talk about Wax, are you speaking specifically about the cost of, say a Wax box or packs or or anything like that?

[RYAN STUCZYNSKI]

Yeah. I mean, a good example of what you had said that’s playing out on the market today, is you know, Rui. So you had the benefit of the 2019 class. Production was pretty much as expected. I think there might have been some delays there. But you had COVID step in which basically allowed all these cards to come onto the marketplace, that you had almost the full assortment of 2019 product in the market by the time that the bubble went into play. And so not everybody obviously played in the bubble, and it didn’t impact all cards, but it still had people interested in basketball and speculating. And also it had a lot of people that didn’t participate. And pricing is all around expectations about future performance. And so, because product existed and there was still a lot of unknowns. So you could project out all these different scenarios for players. You saw like players, like Rui get a ton of support because there was a lot of unknowns. There was still a ton of performance baked into their expectations. Whereas when you look at like the 2020 class, there’s been no product available. We’re still launching in January of 2022. Some of the, just getting into the higher end of the 2020 product. But you’ve had a season and a half of these player performance already baked into their prices. So you will never see the players of Rui caliber or further down the line in the draft who are going have all these cards graded, because there’s already a known player there. Like there’s already a known ceiling because these players have had a year and a half on the market. Whereas people were still speculating on Rui for a long time. So that is super interesting. And you’ll see that in our data and like you – so how that plays out is you’ve had like 400,000, I think the numbers like 250,000 base prisms that were graded by PSA from 2019. You’re going to see fractions of that for 2020, because there’s just so many – one, the base phenomenon is gone. And two, people just aren’t going grade people that they were speculating on. The future performance is pretty well baked in, and it’s not a high ceiling for a lot of these guys. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

Yeah. And let’s – taking a step back if you have that backlog of 6.7 million, right. Are you suspecting that those cards are going to be what’s already kind of populating the top 100 top off 500 in terms of those base prisms? Or even more Pokémon flooding the market once those cards get out of – get done grading. 

[RYAN STUCZYNSKI]

Yeah. I mean, I think it’s a lot of the cards that were on the margin. So it’s like you couldn’t support the premium of any sort of accelerated service. So you see the rise of 2019 mosaic. See a ton of mosaic, for example, which is like a perfect set to sort of represent that era because it’s like, it was not a high price set. It was the first time it was in market as its own individual set. So people cared about it, and they wanted to grade it, but they couldn’t rationalise paying high prices. And so the backlog is flooded with mosaic for example. And that’s not as many Zions as you think, there’s certainly a ton of Zions in there, but it’s not – that was the one player that they could take out of the pack or take out the pile and say, no we’ll expedite the service here right. And so you have more of the Tyler heroes, the groomies, these guys that were sort of, Michael Porter JR, the people that you wouldn’t necessarily pay a premium for, but you thought there was potential. That’s what the backlog is. It’s mosaics. And it’s the sort of on the margin players or the parallels. The parallels, the other side of this equation that we haven’t talked about. But I mean this is the biggest head fake of the whole era is that there’s scarcity around and rarity around parallels when the reality is there’s hundreds and thousands of versions of these cards out there. And again, the demand is pretty limited when people aren’t going to want the fringe parallel. And so people go to – will sell under the idea that these things are rare and there’s demand for them. But the reality is there’s not that many buyers for a lot of these things. And so parallels are a big part of what’s in that backlog too. And there’s just not going be the demand for them because we aren’t going to be buying the sixth and seventh most parallel for the fourth and fifth best players. Out of a class. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

Yeah. And you know, a lot goes into that, right? Like I think the average hobbyist is a lot more – because of the numbers, because of the data that’s out there, they’re a lot more well educated right. In terms of what they want to buy and what they should sell and things like that. Kind of moving on some other things. The one rising thing that I’ve kind of wondering a lot about is F1. Is that something that you help track or is that something that you still haven’t seen too much of? 

[RYAN STUCZYNSKI]

We track it, it doesn’t show up in sort of our weekly report that we put together as sort of this emerging category, but just because the supply is not crazy yet. And it was launched into what was a very expensive market to grade cards. And so I think the enthusiasm obviously is there and I think people have certainly been willing to pay a premium to grade a good number of the cards. But it’s still – I’m sure there’s tons of people sitting on a bunch of stuff they’re excited to grade and there’s obviously a lot of momentum there, but it hasn’t really played out in our numbers, just in the sense that it’s still very small relative to some of these more established categories that exist. But the thing I love is you can go into Gemrate and one of the things that I talk about is you can kind of – we have our sort of like ‘way back’ machine that Amazon has, which is you can go look at this data at any point in time. We call it data replay, but you can go look at F1 trends as it was of April of 2001, and you can compare it too today. And you can just very quickly see what that trend looks like, all these things. And you’ll see impressive momentum there, but it’s usually at the very high end of the market, the cards that people were willing to pay for. So you can see the momentum, but it’s still very small relative to the more established categories. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

You’re right, now that I think about it, as F1 pillar has been rising, for a large part of that number one, PSA was shut down and then number two, you would have to have those high-end cards if you wanted to be paying hundreds of dollars to get your card expedited. And most of these cards, you know, these base cards aren’t worth that. It’s good because I guess maybe the F1 cards have maintained some sort of value there because they’re not over graded. 

[RYAN STUCZYNSKI]

Yeah. They will benefit from the fact that there won’t be this over supply where people are trying to capitalise on some inefficiency. I mean, granted, the cards will still exist obviously, but just you won’t – people will be more thoughtful about what qualifies as a card that’s worth thrown into the mix of Grading. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

So it’s been awesome talking to you, Ryan, I’m going leave with one question here for you. You’ve started this business more than a year ago. What are your impressions of it now? And are you happy that you made that decision?

[RYAN STUCZYNSKI]

So my impression is that I don’t think I understood just like how much pent-up demand there was for people to get some visibility into supply. And I’ve been very pleasantly surprised by just the amount of outreach I’ve received as it relates to just people being grateful that this exists. And what’s interesting about it, it’s not necessarily things, data that you’re going to make a decision on tomorrow, but it provides this broader context that I think just was causing a lot of uncertainty in the market. And I think people are very grateful for that. So it’s a little bit of just like a calming data set for the market to give people who are around it and give them give them a better sense of what’s happening. And so I’ve been very happy to see how well that’s been received. And I most certainly I’ve been happy that this is sort of work. I mean, it’s not work for me. I mean, I spend my full-time – this is my full-time job, but I love it. I mean, I’m building a product for myself and then I know it will extend to people like myself that are data nerds. And then I’m also thinking about it more broadly to people who are maybe, again, wanting to see it within their own collection experience and thinking about how to then present it to them. But I’m just building stuff that I want or that I think people with similar ideas would want to see in the market. And so it’s a hobby for me that I learn a lot about and hopefully becomes a source of income for me. There’s all always that in the background that I want to make sure that this is financially sustainable and lucrative for me and the team in the process, but this is very fulfilling. I would say. I’ve enjoyed it. And it’s been cool to sort of see Gemrate established in some of the – when it gets mentioned in sort of a [unintelligible 00:55:04] report around where the markets going and it’s one of 12 tools mentioned there. It’s very exciting for us to us to see because we haven’t been around that long. And to know that there’s people, again, with a lot of influence in the hobby that pay attention to what we’re doing means a lot. That’s all we wanted is for people to appreciate what we’re doing here and to hopefully make informed decisions off of this. And then we’re excited for the sort of the next phase of this, which is, again, we think this is going to be one of the best storytelling tools out there for content providers or for people who want to support their investment theses, or people who just want to find cool or desirable cars added to their collection. So still very early in the tooling side of things, but we’ve been really happy with sort of how content was received last year. And we’re excited to really dig into sort of the tooling side of things and give people more opportunities to just dig into the data themselves and have a lot more control over how they want to sort of slice and dice it. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

Yeah, absolutely. So your website is gemrate.com?

[RYAN STUCZYNSKI]

Yep. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

And then could you tell us what your other handles like on Instagram and Twitter where they can find you? 

[RYAN STUCZYNSKI]

Yeah, they’re both just Gemrate. Twitter and Instagram too, so easy to find. And I would say we have a bigger following on Instagram cause that’s where sort of got our initial shout out from CardPorn. People we’re paying attention to us. But we’ve actually got a lot more momentum on Twitter, recent days, just because we’ve started to publish data about SGC trends and BGS trends. And I think people, again, people like to just have data to support their hypotheses. And so it’s been interesting to see some of the momentum pick up on Twitter. But yeah, we’re active on those platforms. We’d like to continue to part – you can also sign up our email newsletter. We don’t email that often we send a monthly report and maybe an occasional another report or two during the month. But those are the best ways to stay in the loop for what we’re doing. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for your time. And you know, I know that a lot of times we talk about, I’ll mention this again, people that are innovating the space and the amount of number one energy, money of course, but then also like thoughtfulness, right. Thoughtfulness and thoughtfulness can come in different ways. With intelligence, hard work that has poured into the hobby over the last two years has been incredible. And so I think that what you’ve created is one of those innovations that helps people kind of see things from a different light. Just want to kind of end on that note. And best of luck to you, Ryan. 

[RYAN STUCZYNSKI]

Yeah, thanks. I appreciate you having me on and giving us a to tell more of our story. You know, we’re still very early. And so these opportunities mean the world to us, so thank you for having us on I appreciate it. 

[HORACIO RUIZ]

When I’m here sitting, reflecting on today’s guest, Ryan, I think the thing that stick out to me, number one was the risk that he took to start his own company and to just go for it. We always talk about what it takes to start a business and what it takes to kind of do something different. And so I just want to shout out to Ryan for having the courage to do that. The second thing that stuck out to me was the backlog at PSA. They have 6.7 million cards still waiting to be graded. And Ryan just kind of came out and said hey, that’s about a card a minute. Which is just astounding to me. And the third thing was the transparency with which he wants to run his company. Very forward thinking and has a very clear mission of what he wants to do with his data, how he wants to maintain control of it and what he’s looking really to get out of it. So those things really stuck out to me. Now, if you enjoy today’s episode or other episodes on the podcast, please do us a favour and leave a review and follow us. It helps. Until next time take care. 

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Author

Horacio Ruiz

Horacio Ruiz

Horacio is a veteran math teacher of the New York City public school system. Prior to teaching, he lived in New Orleans where he worked in sales for the New Orleans Hornets before joining The Institute for Sport and Social Justice to rebuild homes in the Lower Ninth Ward and neighboring St. Bernard Parish. He currently lives in Staten Island with his wife, Alicia, his three sons; Oliver, Henry, and Jacob, and their pitt-mi,x Tipitina. In 2019, Horacio published a biography, The White Knight: Calvin Patterson and the Integration of Florida State University Football.

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