Trading sports cards, an activity historically reserved for you and some friends in your parent’s basement, has increasingly found a home on livestreaming apps.
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Loupe Tech is the latest live e-commerce streaming platform, built for sports card collectors, to receive venture capital investment — $12 million in Series A funding.
Forerunner Ventures led the round, with additional investment by Nat Turner and DJ Skee. In total, the company has raised just over $15 million, which includes a $3 million seed round in January, led by Upfront Ventures, according to Crunchbase data.
“I was getting back into sports cards, which I collected as a kid with my dad,” Loupe founder and CEO Eric Doty told Crunchbase News. “Like a lot of collectors, I lapsed for decades and wanted to get back in it.”
When he did, Doty realized there was a technology gap with this hobby; websites and tools had not evolved in a decade. Taking a cue from his background in video games, he thought he could bring something to the market that wasn’t there: A livestreaming app where viewing, purchasing and connecting as a community could be done with one tool.
Miami-based Loupe was founded in March 2020 and launched later that year in October.
Doty expects to use the new funding to hire more people, as well as form strategic partnerships. The company currently has nine employees, and he is looking to hire six more over the next few months on both the business and development sides.
With the card trading market projected to reach $98.8 billion by 2027, Loupe is the latest livestreaming company to raise funding. In March, Whatnot raised $20 million in Series A funding to expand its livestream shopping platform and marketplace for avid collectors to come together over shared interests. Then in April, Alt, which allows people to buy, sell and store sports cards, launched after raising $31 million combined in a seed and Series A financing.
Doty believes Loupe is ahead of the curve with its marketplace model. In the seven months since the company has launched, it is growing 50 percent month to month in total sales and facilitating millions of sales each month, he added. Loupe’s revenue comes from a percentage of each sale, and the company is adding thousands of new viewers per day.
“It is really the sellers who have been finding success,” Doty said. “For some of the sellers, 80 or 90 percent of their business is done on our platform.”
Next up, Loupe plans to open a flagship showroom, store and office space in the Wynwood area of Miami. It will also have livestreaming studios so customers can watch the livesteams.
Doty also intends to improve the app by building out additional user-requested features and revenue-growth options, as well as the experience so that anyone who wants to sell cards can build their business in 60 days and be successful on the platform.
“Hundreds of people are on a waitlist to be added, and we are always looking for sellers that represent what we stand for,” he added. “We are also focused on our community and building a relationship with them.”
Kirsten Green, founder and managing partner of Forerunner Ventures, said the firm is interested in trends such as live and social commerce, and in looking across the landscape, sought out Doty because of his app and experience.
Green sees the evolution of commerce becoming about how people shop and socialize online as a form of entertainment.
“Creators being able to reach audiences directly and transact what they offer is an interesting trend to us,” she said in an interview. “Eric shared this vision with us that got us excited for Loupe to be a hub for enthusiasts anchored around commerce. As much as anything, people want to network online, and being able to do so around an activity or passion is the next evolution of social media.”
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias
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