The team behind College Cardz with their $1,000 first-place prize from the Innovate Living-Learning Community pitch competition. Photo courtesy of Corey Crum.

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people rediscovered hobbies long since abandoned in their youth. One of those hobbies, card collecting, experienced a boom that resulted in it becoming a multi-billion-dollar industry, with some estimates showing that it could grow by another 10 percent by 2030.

While much of the card market centers around sports leagues like the NBA, or trading card games like Pokémon, a team of Pamplin College of Business students are looking to find their niche in the marketplace with College Cardz.

Meet the team behind College Cardz:

  • Corey Crum; student in Business Information Technology
  • Chris MacDonald; student majoring Business Information Technology
  • Piero Morote ’23; Business Management
  • Ebenezer Zergabachew; student in Business Information Technology


What are College Cardz?

Corey Crum: College Cardz are trading cards that capture the culture of college campuses. Through our market research, we found that no one else has done something like this before. Of course, there are Pokémon cards and baseball cards with their respective markets, but nothing that encompasses college life onto trading cards.

How did the idea for College Cardz come about?

Crum: The Innovate Living-Learning Community in the Creativity and Innovation District hosted a pitch competition. Our team originally signed up for the competition as individuals and were placed together onto a team for the duration of the competition.

We threw around different ideas but kept coming back to our common ground in art. Ebenezer had previous experience designing stickers and suggested the idea of trading cards for colleges. We thought it was a bit silly at first, but we pondered a bit and concluded that this could be a viable product. We began to research to see if this had ever been done and to our surprise, it had not. From there, we got to work. We thought about what these cards should look like, the different sets we should have, how we should market them, and all of that. We stayed up the entire night cranking out drawings of what our cards would look like. In the morning, we presented our idea to the competitors and judges.

We managed to take first place with a $1,000 prize to help us with our startup.

College Cardz are trading cards that capture the culture of college campuses. Photo courtesy of Corey Crum.

How has the business gone so far?

Crum: During the pitch competition we went around downtown Blacksburg and asked the community what they thought of our idea. They gave us some insight into who our customers would be, how much they would be willing to pay, and what cards they would like to see. When we sold for the first time during Family Weekend, we got a better idea of who would be interested in buying our cards. Our main customers were alumni, parents, and students. With this information, we can curate our future products and marketing to those who would be interested in our product.

We plan on hosting another booth either on the Drillfield, at Turner Place, or Squires.

What does the future look like for College Cardz?

Crum: We are making our next sets and are planning what we want to do for next semester. Ideally, we would like to have three sets by the end of this year and, once we have proof of concept, we hope to expand into other Virginia colleges such as UVA and JMU.

For more information, or to contact the team, follow College Cardz on LinkedIn.