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Old 12-08-2011, 06:39 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Summit Q&A: 5 questions with emerging industry leader Tim Getsch of COMC

Didnt see this posted...but found this to be a great read!

Summit Q&A: 5 questions with emerging industry leader Tim Getsch of COMC

This week’s Industry Summit Q&A is with Tim Getsch, owner of Home - CheckOutMyCards.com, a rapidly emerging consignment seller in the sports card and collectible space.

COMC employs 20 full-time employees in a 6000 sq. ft Seattle location; it is moving to a 27000 sq ft space in early 2012. Getsch, 33, is a University of Minnesota grad with a master’s degree in computer science; he has owned & operated COMC for the past four years after an 8-year stint with Microsoft. He answered these five unscripted questions from Industry Summit host Kevin Isaacson:

Q. This industry has benefitted from some amazing talent over the past 20 years – including Laurie Goldberg (now at Discovery/TLC), Donna Goldsmith (WWE and the New York Super Bowl Committee) and countless others. But reduced trading-card revenues have limited the talent infusion of late, which prompts a question: Why did you leave Microsoft to launch a trading card start-up?

A. I was seriously into cards, even before I learned about computers. At one point, my parents forbade me from collecting, not that that stopped me. Even when I was at Microsoft, cards were my passion; I started building the precursor to COMC to sell cards that I had purchased elsewhere. Originally, it was just going to be a self-sustaining hobby, but when I looked around the business, I didn’t find a good way for me to accomplish that. Every “selling’’ opportunity had a high overhead. I wanted to create something that eliminated the inefficiencies that would prevent me, and other people like me, from collecting aggressively. It’s been an amazing ride – really, really fun – to build a team of awesome people that can provide a service for people like me, who grew up collecting cards and still want to participate in a self-sustaining way.

Q. Your business and corporate training likely emphasized the value of partnerships. Tell us which partner relationships have been critical to the successful launch of COMC.

A. One of the things they really stress at Microsoft is cross-group collaboration. That is something that the sports card business doesn’t always seem to do well – but it was certainly something we prioritized when building COMC. The first critical relationship was with Beckett. I knew that we needed consistent descriptions of cards, and Beckett is the unquestioned source for that information. We were so fortunate, at the first National we attended, to meet Dr. (James) Beckett and their then-CEO (Peter Gudmunsson). They seemed to like our initial demo, and that led to a great business relationship. Bill Sutherland, who leads their team now, is doing a great job, and we continue to work collaboratively to help both of our businesses. Another key partnership was with Blowout Cards. They are an industry pioneer in collector forums, and their forums were the first place that COMC really picked up traction with collectors. They could have squelched the discussion, because at the time, it really wasn’t benefitting Blowout Cards. But they let the thread grow, it became very popular and helped establish credibility for our business. Eventually, we got together and created a mutually beneficial program – collectors can now exchange the credit they earn on our site for Blowout cards gift certificates. Plus, Tom Fish is a valued advisor – I always appreciate the chance to get his “take’’ on the industry. Going forward, we will aggressively partner with brick-and-mortar stores. I think we can bring value to hobby stores by integrating our services with their businesses, and that’s something we will be looking to launch at this year’s Industry Summit.

Q. How closely do you watch the new-card business, from both a manufacturing and licensing perspective?

A. I am interested, obviously, and it has long-term ramifications, but current-year product comprises less than 10 percent of our business. Our service primarily helps collectors who are trying to collect cards of players, or who want to complete a specific set or collection. From our perspective, we just want the manufacturers to make good products. We love it when the products are conducive to online trading – and obviously, I’m not a fan of anything that is delivered as a complete set!

Q. Every business has detractors. What has been the most critical shortfall of COMC to date?

A. Customer service. Basically, we’re the customer service solution for 2000 sellers. Every seller has the occasional unhappy customers, and our business magnifies that 2000 times. We continue to try to mitigate those issues – every card is scanned, front and back, with a 4-times zoom – and even then, we provide every buyer with full refund during the first week after delivery. Our biggest shortfall, probably, has been not responding to email quickly enough – a liability of our growth, I guess. We now have two full-time people handling customer service, and we will scale that up as we continue to grow. We communicate daily with customers on many platforms – our blog, Facebook, Twitter, plus phone and email – and we take those relationships very seriously.

Q. Give us a snapshot of Home - CheckOutMyCards.com in 2016 – five years from now.

A. We just signed a new lease; in January, our office space will increase by 500 percent. We are planning on significantly increasing our offerings, both to local card shops and across other collectible areas. Partnering with card shops is a key to our success, and, hopefully, theirs as well. Nothing compares to cracking open a new product in your local card shop, or buying the single cards of the hot rookie in your local market. Our service helps collectors create revenue that they can re-invest in their hobby, whether it’s buying more new product or, going forward, buying singles at their local card store. We excited about the future; partnering with card stores and, eventually, stores that service the comics, coins and other collecting markets, will provide a lot of opportunity for COMC and our partners.

REGISTER TODAY! Secure your reservation at the 2012 Industry Summit by visiting www.regonline.com/2012summit. To suggest a 5 Questions subject, contact Summit host Kevin Isaacson at kisaacson@charter.net
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Old 12-12-2011, 10:46 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Awesome, thanks for posting this! It's probably really nerdy of me to be excited about an interview with my own boss, but this is great. =)

-Jeremy
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