Ludex has raised $5.3M for AI-powered trading card app

Brian Ludden came up with the idea ludexan app for trading card enthusiasts to digitize their collections and determine their value after his son received a set of baseball cards.

At the time, he said, he found it difficult to examine the value of the cards.

“I went — like any good American does — and googled the name of the card. I looked at pictures. I ended up on eBay and it was just super inefficient and painful,” said Ludden, Ludex’s CEO.

Founded in May 2021, Ludex aims to identify and digitize collections through artificial intelligence technology. It also tracks the value of cards in marketplaces like Map Kingdom and Troll and Toad† The startup launched its app in May.

To create a digital portfolio, users need to subscribe to one of two plans starting at $20 per month or $180 for an annual subscription. Ludex scans and tracks ratings for baseball cards, Pokémon cards, and Magic the Gathering cards.

“I wanted to solve a problem. I wanted to help the collectors,” said Ludden. “I mean, it’s as Americana as hot dogs and apple pie, collecting cards.”

Ludex recently secured a $5.3 million seed round within 30 days from 101 family and friends investors. Notable participants include Brian Urlacher, a former linebacker for the Chicago Bears, and Cassius Marsh.

Heather Denniston, a co-founder of Ludex, told Insider that most of the funding went toward bolstering Ludex’s AI. To build the infrastructure for the app, Ludex worked with engineers and software developers dedicated to machine learning, she said.

Competing apps, such as CoIIX and TCG playerare “not really looking to apply some kind of complicated, layered AI approach,” Denniston said.

Small variations can mean the difference between owning a $1 card and a $100 card. The co-founders said the difference between Ludex’s platform and others is that Ludex’s AI is designed to identify those variations.

“We got to an accuracy of 70% to 75% pretty quickly,” Ludden said of the AI, adding that “it was the next 20% that cost almost all the money” and “20 to 25 people coming here in the last year worked on every day.”

“I said, ‘If we can get over 90% accuracy, and we can do it in less than three seconds, we’re going to change the industry,'” he said. “And right now we’re over 90, and we’re under two seconds. So we’ve solved that problem, and that’s what I said to the investors.”

Looking ahead, Ludex wants to expand the types of cards it can identify through its app. Both founders are also looking at launching a marketplace for collectors to buy and sell cards, a move the startup would pit against eBay companies.

But first, Ludex wants to build more brand awareness and create card shows where collectors can buy and trade the metaverse. “We’ll start working on the development for that later this month, hopefully we’ll even have that this year,” Denniston said.

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