Laine Pearce has been trading cards since the early 1990s. He traded cards from basketball and cricket to X-Men, but eventually, as he became an adult, his hobbies and attention went elsewhere. It was nearly 20 years before Laine came back to the trading card game.
Laine, an aerospace engineer and reserve member of the Royal Australian Air Force, started 130 Point in early 2017. He was home more and with the extra downtime was looking for a new hobby that combined his passion for sports, and his desire to learn how to build websites. That’s where 130 Point began.
Note: Responses may have been edited for clarity.
What motivated you to start 130 Point?
I’ve been into trading card collectibles since the early 90s. As an adult, I moved away from it and only dabbled in it occasionally over the next 20 years. I went off to study as an aerospace engineer and did that as my full-time job for 15 years.
When I had kids, I was home a bit more and with more downtime, I was looking for a new hobby. I decided to get back into trading cards and I was using a few resources on the internet (seeing what cards are worth, etc.) and noticed there was something missing.
I always had an interest in developing my coding skills and in building websites. I decided to combine my passion for trading cards with building a website of my own.
What’s the story behind 130 Point?
One night, I just started coding. The initial idea was to have what cards are available, redemptions, etc. After speaking with other card collectors, I started adding checklists and the ability to search pricing for cards to the website.
For now, it’s just me but I hope that we continue to grow. I’ve spent a lot of hours working on the website myself as it hasn’t been financially viable to have a full-time team. We are now expanding the 130 Point business here in Australia to include card sales, grading, etc, and hopefully, we can add some dedicated coding staff in the near future.
What struggles did you face when starting your company?
It has its ups and downs and nobody knows who you are. Thankfully, there’s a great community of collectors in Australia who found the website useful and supported me in the early days. I really rely on collectors to provide feedback and tell me what they’re interested in seeing on the website like checklists, analyses, etc.
The sales information is what most people are interested in. The difficult thing about sales information is the companies who own data don’t necessarily want to share it. For example, eBay reduced who had access to their data and thankfully, we were still allowed access due to the great relationship we have with them.
When challenges arise, I like to work with the right people and operate the business by focusing on what the users want.The community of users who frequent the site are amazing and provide a lot of useful feedback which we try to take on board and use to improve their experience. We’re primarily reliant on organic traffic and word-of-month and it’s to the point now where people recommend 130 Point all throughout the collecting hobby because of its credibility and accuracy.
Who were the people who have been the most helpful in getting you to where you are today?
I’d have to say my wife and supportive family. My wife has had to deal with me while I’m swearing at my computer when something’s not working, especially at night.
I have to mention the card collecting community as well. The community has provided valuable feedback when something on the website doesn’t work, or could be improved. They’ve essentially been my beta testers.
What has surprised you about starting 130 Point?
The amount of spam you get from people wanting to advertise on your website. I suppose once you get to a certain level of traffic, you get targeted more.
When I was approached to potentially look at Freestar, they were really good about contacting me through LinkedIn. It gave me a chance to talk to them directly and know who they were, the companies they worked with, etc. I’ve been really happy with the Freestar team who support me and the website.
If you have to do it all over again, is there anything you would do differently?
I think realistically I’m happy with how things have gone. I would’ve changed a few things or approached things differently like adding more features earlier.
It has definitely taken patience and determination to get here. This has been a years long side project and I do think I took the harder route having built, tested everything on my own. I wanted to understand the technology behind it and not many publishers would go there.
What’s the one thing you’d tell your younger self?
I tell this to my son, if you fail, it’s good because it teaches you something, you learn from it. If you win everything, you can’t comprehend it when you finally fail. It’s important to fail to learn resilience.
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