SpeedMTG was started with the idea that there has to be a way to double dip on transaction fees as a business online without having to double up on labour. The way many brick and mortar stores
and online stores work is that a card is bought at a certain rate, then sold for a higher rate. This is called the card lifecycle. Each time it enters or exits the business inventory, there is a
cost associated with each entry and each exit. SpeedMTG was synthesizing the idea that by allowing a card to remain in an account and be resold for a higher price, the company could keep
a massive bonus of zero liability and no sunk capital (we are not buying the cards, other users are) and we only have to perform labour when a card enters or leaves the site, not when users
relist and sell to each other. Unfortunately for the business, there was also a downside to not sinking capital into buying cards - when someone wanted to sell, they had to wait, which is
considered unacceptable. As well, the rates weren't as negotiable as expected, and the prices did not hit proper equilibriums (fair prices) as the general card liquidity stayed low. As nothing
was spent on advertising or any portion of the business, the site stagnated which in hindsight seems predictable. I had hoped for the best.
Another idea was to attract higher volume transactions without any liability with Futures contracts and Options contracts. While it was in operation, players could reserve cards in such
a way that they could maturely hedge their bets for or against cards they wanted to play with. For example, with Jace, the Mind Sculptor, he went from $45 to $110 in one day on his
unbanning a couple years ago. The site was selling options on $50 for $2 each, of which only 6 of the 16 Jace's sold. This meant that users spent $12 in a non-refundable manner on
the options to guarantee they could buy Jace's for $50, which they did, and immediately took out of the site suggesting they were able to play with the cards without having to spend
$440 or more on a playset from another place. Although there was clearly a potential pain point for customers that could be avoided by using options or futures, it ran into issue with
the Alberta Securities Commission and was discontinued before it could gain momentum. This was a serious setback for website growth.
The foundation of the company idea seemed safe in that it did not cost anything to start and operate. I built the database, back end, and front end from scratch myself and without any
paid tools. I hosted it on Microsoft Azure which costs up to $17/month but handles the site well enough, and the business did more than $170 in transactions per month making it technically
profitable. It still handles close to that much, but the problem with the refund policy ate into profits quickly. Many of the months where I had made over $100 in profit ($1k/transactions)
I would also have a missing card that could not be replaced, such as when our autoscanning machine put a card in as from an original set or alpha when really it was Chronicles or revised.
This would trigger the $100 protection which was never enforced on previous sites because the accuracy remained higher. When I ran WarpCards.com, I maintained a 32/10000 inaccuracy rate,
wherein 4/10000 were strictly-wrong and 28/10000 were wrong-set or wrong-characteristic. Here the inaccuracy rate has skyrocketed and the refund policy being honoured has surely benefited
customers greatly and helped maintain reputation, but at a brutal expense of the business budget.
As it currently stands, the company did not lose money basically because it didn't cost anything to start and the operating costs were negligible to none. If anyone is interested in the source
code to the website, please feel free to get in contact with me. I am not looking to sell it, but if anyone would want to use it I could give out the source code after the website closes.
I would also say that having an auto-scanning machine was both a blessing and a curse. It made too few errors to justify going through through and double checking all it's work (why not just
have a person do it from the start then?), but it made to many errors to make up for the fact that a 3d printed autoscanner with a small camera made such a miniscule difference. Overall the
real benefit I would say is that I know the machine didn't steal any cards, wherein with humans that is always an absolutely massive potential loss.
In all, if I were to do this all again, it would be mostly the same but with enough of a budget. With my business ventures now and in the past the seemingly common characteristic
between the successful ones was the involvment of an investor. It may be such that investors only pick good ideas to invest in and that biases my anecdotal samples, but overall I feel
it is more that there are many, many pitfalls that can be easily avoided with small amounts of capital that must be trudged through if you're lacking it. I am grateful for the people
I met and broke bread together with, and I leave this venture knowing that I operated it honestly with the takeaway being that I've learned much that will stay with me for a long time.