Employee Gems: Kaushik

August 22, 2022

At ALT, our mission is to transform investing by unlocking the value of alternative assets. Part of the fun of working here is that our employees are passionate collectors themselves, and over the next month we’re having some of them share their prized possessions with the world. First up is Operations Manager, Kaushik Mohan to talk about his card collection.

How long have you been at ALT? What is your role?

I’ve been with ALT for 10 months and I am an operations manager here. My day-to-day involves a good mix of firefighting and problem solving in an industry I’ve been passionate about for more than a decade.

What do you like to collect and why?

I collect primarily Basketball and Football cards, but lately catch myself adding Soccer and Formula 1. Soon I will also be adding game-used memorabilia to my collection as I feel those pieces will only appreciate over time!

When did you start your collection?

I used to live in a very small town where sports cards and collecting was my way of feeling like I could root for any player since I lived very far from any major sports venue. In 2011 I started collecting sports cards. I’ve always been a collector of something, from pennies to Pokémon cards. I remember sitting in my car and opening a 2011 Panini Threads Basketball hobby box. I hit a Kyrie Irving auto, the best hit in the product. This is what really started my addiction to sports cards.

What does your collection look like today?

I’ve gone back to my roots. I only have a few premiere cards and am back to where it began for me as a set collector. Right now I am chasing six sets. Currently the 2003 Topps Chrome Basketball is the most expensive, and the first year Upper Deck Radiance Basketball has proved to be the most challenging. I strategically base my collection size on my ability to manage my portfolio. If life is busy, I consolidate, but if I realize I have more time, I trade down on a big asset and get to work. Not everything is about money, but in case I ever need a rainy day, I always like to be prepared.

What’s your strategy for obtaining the assets you want?

It depends on the asset and the speed with which I need to acquire it. I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve had to acquire an asset from one party just to be able to trade it to another collector that needs it in order to get my grail. Most people go from one buyer to seller as a transaction. I’m usually acquiring an asset for one of two reasons, to hold long-term or to move to a pre-designated target before the first transaction is complete.

What is your favorite asset?

I have a 2003 Lebron James Limited Logos card that I acquired from two close friends in the hobby. I never thought I would acquire such a piece, I was just in the right place at the right time. It’s probably going to be my graveyard card, which they bury me with.

Is there any specific item you’d love to get your hands on?

Yes, I’ve been looking for an official, signed Michael Jordan “Wings” poster. There are very limited copies. I want it hung in my house! It’s very hard to find, and the next time I see one I will scoop it up.

What do you see as being the future of collecting for your item?

One of the biggest issues in our industry is that there is a huge barrier to entry. It takes a long time to learn what to do and how to execute. For a long time, creative pricing has existed, and there were no educated data references to use as support. Some will say that the beauty of price is in the love of the asset, but they wouldn’t say this if they were losing money on that said asset. One of the things that ALT does is educate individuals on the potential price points an asset may be worth. We provide a range of values based on a series of variables from transactions, seasonality and market trends.

Currently in the industry, we still view the last comp as the current day price. It’s hard to change that since this is a process we’ve adhered to for a very long time, but unfortunately in a more intelligent 2022 market you can clearly see how that will not work. My advice would be to not only reference the exact card you’re looking at, leverage ALT’s Market trends to understand if this player is lower or higher in recent history. Having data at your fingertips is so important in making a decision, but it’s only one side of the coin. Data can get you to a point where a decision can be made, but it’s your intuition, communication with others, and understanding of market cycles that will lead you to purchasing an asset.