Arena Club, a card-trading platform co-founded by baseball Hall-of-Famer Derek Jeter, recently raised $10 million in Series A funding as it looks to put the ‘trading’ back into trading cards.
Founded, along with Jeter, by serial entrepreneur Brian Lee and CFO/COO Jesse Glass, Arena Club offers collectors automated grading services, a card storage option and marketplace features for instant buying and selling. But Lee said that since launching in September, the company has seen its customers gravitate towards swapping cards with other users.
While other platform,s such as eBay, have hosted millions of card sales, Arena Club offers free card-for-card trading. The trades can take many forms: Pokemon card for basketball card or five cards for one, for example. Traders can even throw in some cash to even things out.
“Trading cards is the most natural way that people interact in this hobby,” Arena Club VP of business development Warren Laufer said. “There’s been all this friction that’s stopped people from doing what’s really natural. … We found that trading is where people want to enter, that’s where they feel comfortable.”
M13, defy.vc, Lightspeed Ventures, Elysian Park Ventures and BAM Ventures led the latest round, with M13 co-founder and partner Courtney Reum joining the startup’s board. Arena Club has now raised $20 million total.
“We felt that the timing was definitely right, in the sense of raising enough capital to power us through the next couple of years at least,” Lee said, “so that we could add more functionality to the site, and also have enough capital to do the proper branding and marketing to grow the platform.”
With its goal of creating a digital card-show environment, Arena Club hopes to attract a wide spectrum of card shoppers, from young collectors to older investors. Lee said the platform has close to 20,000 cards in the system with a marketplace value of roughly $8 million.
“A lot of these are like the new art or the more approachable art for the average person,” Reum said. “So we really see a huge, huge addressable market with what Arena’s doing.”