Entrepreneurial roots: Middle School

In my last post I talked about where my entrepreneurial roots started all these years ago (20 years ago really). Now I’d like to fast forward a bit to when I was in Middle School and my various entrepreneurial endeavors I participated in between 1993-1996. I don’t really consider this a particularly exciting period in my entrepreneurial years, however for the sake of being thorough I’ll see what I can remember.

My first foray into business in middle school was trading cards and comic books. If I recall correctly I liked basketball, baseball, and comic cards, and later Magic the gathering cards. I had by this time grown bored of the candy business, and stopped my illicit underground sugar dealing (plus the 5th grade teacher got mad at me).

When I was in middle school it didn’t occur to me build a real business. I think I was more concerned with playing soccer, or video games (I think Super Nintendo was the rage then) to focus on business. I did find fascination in the trading card business though. There was something that I liked more about the value of the cards than the actual cards themselves. I ended up buying and selling hundreds of cards to my friends, but never making a lot of money, if I did, it all went back into the several hundred strong comic book collection collecting dust at my parents house.

So how could this have been a better business? Hindsight being 20/20, there was a gaping hole in this market neither I nor any of my peers was realizing back then. No one was aggregating/collecting everyone’s demand for specific cards. A smart business would have been to establish myself as the broker for all card deals, and tally a list of cards each of my customers/peers wanted, and then buy the cards I knew others had, and others wanted. Perhaps even taking a deposit to acquire said cards. Now I would have been basically writing this all down on paper, but it could have been done on excel then. This model would have been perfect for strategy games, such as Magic the gathering, or sports cards where kids wanted a certain player, or any number of other collectibles with varying inventory of specific cards.

A truly lean way of doing this would have been to require deposits and never carry inventory, only purchasing cards for someone after securing the payment from my customers and pre-negotiating the price with my suppliers. Again I was 11, so 30 year old Brian would have done things a bit differently. Also doing this stuff today would be an entirely different beast as eBay and craigslist didn’t exist in 1993/1994.

Next up, my first high school business.