6 minutes
Featured Startup

Flygrade: The Instant Grading Tool You've Been Waiting For

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Alexandra Wewel
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We all have nostalgic memories surrounding collectible cards, toys, or items. For me, it was My Little Ponies and Pokemon cards - don’t laugh. For Kyle, he described the joy of going to the store with his mom, eyes growing wide with wonder as he scanned sports cards on the shelf. 

When he was a kid he didn’t really care about the grade of the card, but now those childhood memories may be worth something. Flygrade simplifies the process of grading cards by utilizing AI and Machine Learning to digitally grade cards - instantly.

What is Flygrade?

Flygrade is an app (launched in December of 2022) that allows users to take photos of their cards and have them instantly graded within 90% accuracy. Once a card is graded, a collector can keep the flygrade and have it forever stored inside the app.

Flygrade looks at four major points when determining the grade; sharp corners, straight edges, no scratches or creases, and centering. Flygrade is currently creating a grading rubric to outline the parameters for what aspects would get you a 10 grade, etc. There are also virtual tutorials within the app on how to properly grade the cards.

Many use cases that they are seeing are where collectors will pre-grade their cards using Flygrade as a mechanism to determine whether or not they should send their card to one of the primary companies in the industry. This niche is one that has huge market potential and boosts engagement within the hobby itself.

Flygrade isn’t the first to use AI to grade cards, but they are pioneering the use of Machine Learning to build a neural network that continuously improves the accuracy of the grading. Flygrade has over 30,000 images in their machine learning technology and is continuously improving the algorithm to grade different types of cards.

For example, Kyle discussed how there are cards called ‘Miniatures’ that are small in size but wise in years. These replicas are from cards that date to the late 1800’s, among the first sports cards ever created. Fun fact, they are so small because they were originally distributed through tobacco packs! You can view samples on Kyle’s LinkedIn page - check them out! Flygrade has been updating their capabilities to grade these cards more accurately, and will continue to harness the power of machine learning to encompass more types of cards like this.

Benefits of using Flygrade

“There are really three primary companies in the industry who dominate grading. I was floored when I started looking at it. There are 14 million cards being graded annually, which is a pretty good number, but what really took me back is that there are six million cards on the backlog.” – Kyle Kemp, Founder of Flygrade

Kyle continued to explain that these six million cards are sitting on people’s desks, stuck in package rooms at office locations, being lost, damaged, you name it. This is a problem in the industry because there is so much demand for grading cards, which is great, but the process just takes too long and is risky for collectors.

Through interviews with seasoned collectors (40+ years in the hobby), Kyle discovered how the current process deters them from even grading cards at all. Most responded with “Yeah, I’ve just completely stopped sending in cards to be graded. I’m not even going through the process anymore because it takes way too long and it’s too expensive.”

While companies are doing great work to speed up the time, maybe 2-3 months wait, Flygrade offers a means to speed up the process even more. Through the process of being able to increase the number of graded cards per year, a flywheel effect ensues which increases engagement within the hobby itself. By offering the option to digitally grade cards instead of physically mailing them in, the possibility of your card being lost or damaged is reduced. There is no need for anyone else other than the collector to handle the card.

“There are over 950 Million sport trading cards in existence, and only about 1.5% get graded each year. If you remove the limitation of cost and time, people would be willing to grade 9% of their collection every year.” 

Since Flygrade is a digital tool, anyone around the world can grade their cards. There are people who do not have access to grading. Kyle gave specific examples of collectors in Europe and the Philippines who would have to ship their cards overseas to be graded. The cost to return ratio just doesn’t make sense for these collectors, so who really knows what types of cards are around the world? Flygrade will. 

Start Grading Your Cards today

Download the Flygrade app in the Apple Store or Google Play Store.

Starting this weekend, 2/3/23, you will be able to grade your cards for free for a limited time!

“We just want to put Flygrade out there to get more people downloading it and into the hobby. We want to build a community around Flygrade through having conversations and inserting ourselves in a strategic place in the hobby to create value for everybody.”

Advice for Fellow Founders

“As a founder of Flygrade, utilizing Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in our digital grading of trading cards, I have learned that the most valuable asset to any business is not its technology, but the ability to listen to your end user, be comfortable with criticism of your product, and surrounding yourself with a team who enjoys building with you.” – Kyle Kemp

Follow Kyle and Flygrade on Social Media:

Flygrade : Twitter | LinkedIn | Website | Instagram | TikTok

Kyle Kemp: Twitter | LinkedIn

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