By Anna Lardinois, Startup Storyteller
UW-Whitewater sophomore Chad Tjugum started collecting coins when he was five years old. By the time he was in eighth grade, Tjugum had his own LLC and was buying and selling coins online.
Born with a passion for entrepreneurship, Tjugum enrolled into the gBeta Beloit to develop RaritiesMarket, an online investing platform for people interested in purchasing shares in rare coins. gBeta, a program run by gener8tor, prepares emerging businesses to participate in an investment accelerator or begin raising capital.
While in the program, Tjugum dug deeply into the scope of compliance rules for an investment platform, and upfront financial investment required to support the product.
After considering feedback from mentors and potential investors, Tjugum made the decision to pivot RaritiesMarket.
“We are going to start with a social marketplace,” he said. “Think of a peer-to-peer marketplace like eBay, but then with group elements, like Facebook groups. It’s a little different from the initial investing platform, but I think that’s still where it’s headed. This just helps us get to market faster and really cuts down on the compliance look quite a bit.”
The move allows him to avoid costly and time-consuming investment regulations, while still creating a scalable product for an underserved customer base.
“I saw a unique opportunity to innovate in this space,” he said. “A lot of guys (who are age) 60-plus are making big money buying and selling these coins. They don’t have any need to innovate in the industry. It’s one of the few industries I think that is still in the Stone Age. Not a lot of technology and that’s really true about a lot of the collectible markets. So as a young entrepreneur, I see a position here to get in there and innovate on it.”
Tjugum’s next step is to enroll the business into UW Whitewater’s student business accelerator, Launch Pad. After that, he is considering participating in another accelerator. “I think they could provide a lot of value,” he said, “but I’d like to get some traction first and make sure that this is really feasible and scalable.”
Soon, Tjugum may take on a co-founder with a technology background to help steer the development of the online marketplace.
He plans to develop the company’s marketplace MVP (minimum viable product) with bootstrapped funds. Tjugum anticipates the MVP will be released in 2023, before the end of second quarter.
For now, Tjugum looks forward to the future. “I think we’ve got a lot of potential here for scalability and a market that doesn’t have a lot of technology. I think it’s going to be an exciting year,” he said.