RG 317 – The Next Level of Alternative Asset Investing with Stefan von Imhof
Have you ever thought about investing in wines? How about comic books? Or vinyl records? Stefan von Imhof is with us here today to talk about alternative assets and how you can make good money from them.
Stefan von Imhof is one of the great minds behind Alts.co, a unique alternative investment community, fund, and investment platform. He is also a seasoned writer, product leader, and traveler.
We touch on quite a lot of exciting topics in this episode. Stefan shares his golden tips on attracting traffic to your website through the most cost-effective options. Plus, we talk about investing in alternative assets on Alts.co, from comic books and video games to wines and vinyl.
Interested in becoming an Investor with Reed? Click here to join his Investor email list.
If you’re interested in investing in alternative assets, this episode makes a good crash course before you dip your toes in the market. Learn more about alternative investments from vaulting, value calculation, depreciation, and more.
Traffic is the most important thing for a website.
You can build traffic in many ways; investing in SEO is the best one.
Once something is graded, figuring out how much it’s worth is just a mathematical equation.
- Vaulting handles the storage, logistics, shipping, and insurance of alternative assets.
Be Bold, Be Brave and Go Give Life a Crack!
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Reed Goossens (00:00):
Good day Good day guys. Now, before we dive into today’s show, I want you to let you know that some of you may be aware that over the past eight years, I have built a substantial multi-family real estate portfolio here in the US worth over half a billion dollars. And in that time, my passive investors have received fantastic double-digit returns, and now you too can invest directly into my deals for as little as $50,000. So if you’re an interested investor, head over to Reedgoossens.com to find out more that’s reedgoossens.com. Now back into the show,
Stefan von Imhof (00:41):
There’s so much crossover between real estate. So I’m, I’m a big real estate guy as well. Like I love, uh, renovations and, you know, that’s part of the reason that like why I was drawn to, uh, flipping websites. It’s the same thing. You renovate a website, you, you take out, what’s not working. You put in new systems and, um, uh, you know, uh, monetization methods, you know, the what’s the equivalent of redoing a bathroom or adding another bedroom, it’s basically like spinning up like a new monetization scheme on the, on the site, right? There’s a lot of design work that can be done to make the site look better, function better, just like you can with a house there’s a ton of parallels. And in fact, there’s a lot of people that come from real estate and get into website flipping and, and vice versa. I think too, the, the parallels are, it’s basically a digital real estate is what we used to call it. Now that term’s kind of taken on a new meeting with the metaverse now. So we kind of backed away from that a little bit, but, um, yeah, it, it’s still, I, I like to think of, uh, website flipping as like digital real estate flipping,
Speaker 3 (01:43):
Welcome to investing in the US a podcast for real estate investors, business owners, and aspiring entrepreneurs looking to break into the US market, join Reed as he interviews go-geters risk takers and the best in the business about their journey towards financial freedom and the sheer joy of creating something from nothing
Reed Goossens (02:03):
Good day good day, a ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to another cracking edition of investing in the US podcast from Los Angeles. I’m your host reed goossens good as always every with us on the show. Now I’m glad that you’ve all tuned into it. Learn from my incredible guests and each and every one of them are the cream of the crop here in the United States. When it comes to real estate, investing, business, investing and entrepreneurship, each show, I try and tease out their incredible stories of how they have successfully created their businesses here in the us, how they’ve created financial freedom, massive amounts of cash flow, and ultimately created extraordinary lives for themselves and their families life by design. As I like to say, hopefully these guests will inspire all of my cracking listeners, which are you guys to get off the couch and go and take massive amounts of action.
Reed Goossens (02:50):
If these guys can do it. So can you now, as you know, I’m all about sharing the knowledge with my loyal listeners, which is you guys, and absolutely no BS on this show, just straight into the nuts and bots. Now, if you do like this show, the easiest way to give back is to give us a review on iTunes and you can follow me on Facebook and Twitter by searching at Reed Goossens. You can find the show wherever you podcast on iTunes, SoundCloud, Stitcher, and Google play, but can also find these episodes up on my YouTube channel. So head over to reedgoossens.com, Click on the video link, and it’ll take you to the video recordings of these podcasts, but you can see my ugly mug, but the beautiful faces of my guests each and every week. All right, enough outta me, let’s get cracking and into today’s show
Reed Goossens (03:37):
Today. The show I have the pleasure of chatting with Stefan von Imhof. Now SFA is the co-founder and CEO of alts.co, and he’s a huge fan of alternative investing and has a strong background in alternative asset analysis and valuations. Now, prior to starting alts.co SFA was ahead of product at flipper where he created flippers due diligence program. He’s also spent email@example.com, which was bought by LinkedIn. And he was the first product manager at HG insights, a market intelligence company that sold to Riverwood capital back in 2020. He’s originally from Boston. He spent some time in Santa Barbara, California, and now he lives in my home country of Australia with his incredible wife, but I’m really pumped and excited to have him on the show today to share his incredible insights with me, but enough outta me, let’s get him out here. Good. Stefan, welcome to the show.
Stefan von Imhof (04:24):
Okay. Great to be here, Reed. Thank you so much for having me,
Reed Goossens (04:27):
Mate. My pleasure, uh, before we get into the, the background, but you live in Australia, you’re coming to us from France. That’s correct. And you’re originally from Boston, that’s it? Global, global citizen.
Stefan von Imhof (04:40):
That’s it all over the place. And uh, yeah, it spent 15 years before Australia and Santa Barbara, California. So yeah, just all over the place, man.
Reed Goossens (04:48):
And where do you live in Aussie right now?
Stefan von Imhof (04:50):
Uh, we actually split our time between Melbourne and Adelaide, where my wife is from. So, um, yeah, love both cities very much.
Reed Goossens (04:56):
I haven’t, I actually, I’ve never been to Adelaide and I’ve only spent like one time or one day in Melbourne. So it’s funny how, even as a Aussie, I don’t get, uh, I don’t get up there, but I was just
Stefan von Imhof (05:05):
Underrated, man. Adelaide’s underrated. Everyone always looks past it. I’m telling you it’s a great city, truly a great city.
Reed Goossens (05:11):
They call it. I I always used to call it. Reed uh, the city of churches. That’s right. But we’re just talking offline. I just got back from, uh, or two weeks in Australia from my sister’s wedding. Uh, you are obviously in France and about to head back to Australia, but we haven’t got you on here to talk about where you’re from. We got you on here to talk about your background and what you’ve developed. So with that being said, I like to ask and start the show with all my guests to rewind the clock and tell us how you made your first ever dollar as a kid.
Stefan von Imhof (05:37):
I was a paperboy man. That was it. That was the way. So, you know, it’s funny cuz like you, you talk to a lot of, um, executives and CEOs and founders, especially, and they all have one thing in common disproportionate of, of them were paper, voice as a child. And uh, I was no different. So, uh, being a paper boy in Boston where I grew up is, was especially difficult, right? Like, you know, you gotta wake up, you know, well, before the sun comes up, it is very cold for much of the year. Um, but you learn, you know, you get a great work ethic, you learn, uh, how to take care of customers. I mean, it’s really your, your business in a way. Right. So, you know, I had that at a really young age. Um, and uh, you know, I think that taught me a lot of lessons that I, um, you know, carry through today.
Reed Goossens (06:15):
That’s awesome. And, and talk us about that growing up and the, the, the, the intrigue of, you know, wanting to start your own business, obviously you’re a very well traveled guy, but do you, were you always wanting to go into becoming your own entrepreneur and becoming your own, the founder of, of a company that you run today?
Stefan von Imhof (06:32):
I think it’s just natural. I mean, like either you have it, you don’t, some people don’t, some people do I’ve gone back and forth between working for myself and working for, you know, corporate, um, culture. And, um, I just keep coming back to entrepreneurship. It’s just, for me, it’s just, I I’d rather just be in control. You know, I really like, I just hate reporting to other people I just like to work for myself and, um, you know, it’s funny now cause we’re a venture back company, so it’s like, I kind of have a whole new set of bosses right. With our, uh, investors. So, you know, you’re always serve someone as, as Bob Dylan once said, but um, you know, still pros outweigh the cons and uh, yeah, I very much, uh, like, uh, doing what I do
Reed Goossens (07:07):
And, and walk us through your background. You went to university in, in, in, was it in Santa Barbara?
Stefan von Imhof (07:13):
Actually, no. So I went to, uh, university of Massachusetts in, uh, Amherst and, uh, moved out to Santa Barbara after that. So my wife and I, who I met, um, we lived in Santa Barbara 15 years and at the time Santa Barbara didn’t really have a whole lot of, uh, big tech scenes. So we actually started a, um, business. We started in, uh, e-commerce business. We were a online retailer of, uh, video games and hard to find accessories and repair parts and really kind of like, um, had, had some great years rode the wave of like, um, as Amazon was coming up and eBay was still strong and, you know, had some, had some great years, uh, what happened to us was in that business was 2008. The, the crash hit us pretty hard and we were pretty over leveraged too as well. So learned some lessons there. Um, we were able to recover and actually I end up selling that business on flippa.com. Right. And that was interesting because years later I would actually become the head of product at Flippa. In fact, that’s what I was doing before I started alt.co. So it’s kind of interesting how, you know, it kind of come full circle
Reed Goossens (08:08):
And flip up for those people who dunno what that is. Uh, obviously as an Australian, it sounds, I think I know what it stands for. It’s a good bowling technique that Shane Warren used to use but, uh, and that’s an inside joke for anyone who doesn’t know who Shane Warren is go Google it, but what, what is flipper?
Stefan von Imhof (08:22):
Flipper is a marketplace actually the world’s largest marketplace for buying and selling online business, selling e-commerce business and selling micros companies and products, um, and content websites. Yeah, it’s a, it’s a, you know, flip was actually started back in 2010, but you know, it’s way ahead of its time. And it’s only like, since COVID, it’s really started to hit its stride. So I was there during COVID and I was also there during Melbourne’s big lockdown. And so I had nothing better to do on the weekends for, you know, three or four straight months. And that’s when I started altsdotco. But, um, yeah, Flippa was really, you know, a big part of, um, you know, kind of helping me think through altsdotco and kind of, you know, help me actually get started with it as well.
Reed Goossens (08:59):
So, so talk us about the, the educators on the landscape of online businesses and flipping them and buying them and selling them and ultimately how you came to altsdotco as a, as really an investment platform for alternative investments.
Stefan von Imhof (09:12):
Yeah. So, you know, like Flippa is, uh, like I said, it’s, it’s a marketplace for buying and selling online businesses, but online businesses themselves are, you know, eCommerce sites or micro SAS companies or content websites, basically websites that make money from ads or affiliate marketing. That’s actually a fan. It’s a fantastic alternative investment. And that’s actually how alls.co got started is, you know, on the weekends, like I mentioned, I was doing a lot of writing and I started a newsletter called the alternative assets newsletter. And it was primarily focused at the time on, you know, cash flowing websites and flipping websites for profit. And, um, I still to this day, think that websites, you know, are one of the best alternative investments you can, you can have, but they’re not a passive one. Right. They’re very active. It takes a lot of work and a lot of effort.
Stefan von Imhof (09:59):
And so what’s interesting is like, I started talking about alternative investments through the lens of flipping websites and, and, um, in that area. And there was another gentleman, uh, a guy named Wyat who, um, had his own alternative investing newsletter around the same time, except he was coming at it from a different angle. He was coming at it from the world of collectibles and like fractionalization and what was happening with a lot of cultural assets. And so we kind of had these like similar newsletters that were talking about the growing world of alternatives, but we had, you know, separate like niches that we were focused on. We were fans of each other’s newsletters, and we kind of started talking on Twitter and stuff. And like one day I just kind of called him up and I’m like, Hey man, like, you know, I don’t really wanna compete with you, you know, like, why don’t we just like join forces and build something together.
Stefan von Imhof (10:43):
And, uh, we never met in person. And in fact, uh, uh, we, we still, uh, we only met in person for the first time last month, and that was a year and a half ago. So it was early January, 2021. We started working together. We started altsdotco officially, and, uh, we raised money together and, um, we started the alts one fund together. And up until last month, I couldn’t tell you how, how tall he was. so that’s a pretty crazy world we live in these days, but, um, yeah, happy to say we finally met in person and, uh, we get along great. And, uh, yeah, pretty cool.
Reed Goossens (11:15):
What’s the, how do you flip a website? Like we talk about flipping real estate on here we talk. I, you know, in big flips for my multifamily projects, I come in, I renovate, I put in better tenants. I increase the net operating income, increase the revenue. Yeah. And I flip it to someone who wants to buy another asset, you know, and same idea. Yeah. Okay.
Stefan von Imhof (11:33):
That’s, it’s the same idea. In fact, there there’s so much crossover between real estate. So I’m, I’m a big real estate guy as well. Like I love, uh, renovations and, you know, that’s part of the reason that like why I was drawn to, uh, flipping websites, it’s the same thing. You renovate a website, you, you take out, what’s not working, you put in new systems and, um, uh, you know, uh, monetization methods, you know, the what’s the equivalent of redoing a bathroom or adding another bedroom, it’s basically like spinning up like a new monetization scheme on the, on the site. Right. There’s a lot of design work that can be done to make the site look better, function better, just like you can with a house there’s a ton of parallels. And in fact, there’s a lot of people that come from real estate and get into website flipping and, and vice versa. I think too, the, the parallels are, it’s basically a digital, real estate is what we used to call it. Now that term’s kind of taken on a new meeting with the metaverse now. So we’ve kind of backed away from that a little bit, but, um, yeah, it’s still, I, I like to think of, uh, website flipping as like digital real estate flipping. Yeah.
Reed Goossens (12:27):
And, and when you talk about other monetary revenue generating, you know, ventures on a website, what do you mean by that to the layman? You know, I, I, I obviously I know that I, when I buy a multi-family property, I can charge for parking. I can increase the rent of the prop of the actual units. I can charge for cable contracts. I can do, you know, all different things to, to increase revenue. What are you doing on a website?
Stefan von Imhof (12:50):
It’s a couple different ways to make money from a website. The most easiest way that, that people often do is just they, they put ads on the website. That’s kind of like version one though, right? Like, it’s kind of like having like a, you know, a, uh, I don’t know, maybe like not the best tenant in or something like you get paid, but it’s kind of a pain. It slows your site down. Right. So there’s better ways of monetizing. Like one of them is to become, uh, spin up like, um, your affiliate program. So now you’re basically putting affiliate links throughout your site and within your content. So that anytime someone clicks on that link and goes to say Amazon and buys something, you get a cut. Right? Yep. And it’s not just Amazon, there are hundreds of thousands of companies that have their own affiliate programs and you can get a cut of, you know, any one of those companies, if they, um, you know, if you get a sale from them.
Stefan von Imhof (13:36):
So, um, that’s a big way. I, but the biggest way, the thing I love doing the most is is what, no one does is just add a newsletter to your site. Right. So add a newsletter sign up form. Right. Um, so everyone who comes to your site makes sure that they sign up for your newsletter. So you don’t lose them forever. Now, once you have their email address, oh, then you can email them. Then you can sell sponsorships in your email newsletters. Right. Like, I mean, we still sell sponsorships firstname.lastname@example.org. So I mean, that, that’s one of the biggest tricks you can do for sure. That’s what I love doing the most. And it’s so easy.
Reed Goossens (14:08):
And when, when you’re looking at, you know, I, I, I always think about, you know, traffic right. To a website, right? How do you increase that traffic? And, and are you looking for, in, you know, the website equivalent of like, well, this is a, a diamond into the rough and I can increase the traffic. Is, is that part of the metrics that you look at when you are assessing whether, uh, it’s, it’s viable to flip the website or not?
Stefan von Imhof (14:29):
Definitely. So traffic is everything to a, a website, um, really, truly everything. And there’s basically three ways to get traffic. You can pay for it, which you don’t really wanna do unless you’re an e-commerce site. And even then it’s very expensive. You can, uh, get, uh, you improve your SEO. So you show up better in Google rankings and that’s all free. That’s the best. I mean, that’s what everyone wants to do. Right. And that’s a big part of this industry. A big part of, um, website flipping is learning search engine optimization and learning SEO and learning how content works. And, uh, that’s a huge part of it. The payoff is tremendous. I mean, you get thousands and thousands, thousands of free views each month. It takes a lot of work to get there. It takes a lot of work to maintain and Google’s always changing. how the algorithm works. So, you know, it gets tricky. Um, and then the third way is, you know, kinda like partnerships, basically referral inbound links. So, you know, um, partnering with other companies to link to you, um, that actually helps SEO as well. But, um, bottom line, if you have a, a great source of traffic, right, there’s a high traffic site and that’s just spinning, you know, spinning traffic your way, you know, that’s obviously free, great free traffic as well. Those are the three main ways.
Reed Goossens (15:36):
Right. And you, you are focused on trying to make sure that all three of them are maximizing to, to, to produce more revenue for the website. Correct?
Stefan von Imhof (15:45):
Yeah. It’s an optimization game for sure. You know, it’s, um, it’s definitely, optimization’s a big part of it. Like, especially once you’re, you’re, you know, every 5% or 10% increase in your numbers can mean, you know, 5%, 10% increase in revenue. That doesn’t matter when you’re starting out, but when you start to get big numbers, oh, that can be a, you know, it’s a big lever to pull. So as what makes it so much fun, you know, and this is another reason not to work for someone else, you know, it’s like, how are you gonna give yourself a 10% raise overnight working for someone else versus like, you can give yourself a 10%, you know, raise and earnings by pulling the right levers. So, you know, there it is.
Reed Goossens (16:18):
So, so how are you valuing these, these companies, you know, like online, because it’s not a physical asset, like I’m in, I, I own a physical piece of dirt, right? Or you might own a trucking company that owns, you know, trucks. Uh, what, or is it the IP? That’s a value here in, in the, in the website.
Stefan von Imhof (16:36):
Typically not it, it can be, um, for highend sites that can be some IP, especially for like micro SAS businesses. And this is what a lot of the sites you see on company called microwire.com, right? That they’re making a lot of noise in the space. They focus more on like, um, companies and that have like, uh, SAS components of them recurring revenue mm-hmm and some IP behind them. So it runs the gamut. Typically, you know, the IP, isn’t a big part of it. It’s basically just how much revenue you’re pulling it. That’s basically what it comes down to. But what’s fascinating about that is you can buy cash flowing websites. I mean, people don’t realize how cheap they are. You can buy cash flowing websites for three to four X, annual net profit. That’s nothing that’s crazy low. I mean, that’s, you know, I’ve done some pretty good real estate deals in my life and the best ones are like four, you know, have a four year payback period.
Stefan von Imhof (17:30):
But that’s the best one. The standard with website flipping is three to four X. So I mean, you, on average that’s, you can buy, you know, say if excites making $25,000 a year net profit, you can buy that site for between 75 and hundred thousand dollars a year. The now you might think, okay, what’s the catch, right? That’s almost too good to be true. Well, the catch is, it’s not passive right at all. Like you’ve got to maintain, it takes work. It takes effort. And, uh, you’ve gotta be careful also when you buy, because a good site will definitely, you know, be priced that, you know, priced well and you, uh, you know, you’ll, you’ll make the money back in three, four years, uh, or sooner if you’re really good at what you do, the problem is the due diligence. Like you have got to do your due diligence and stuff.
Stefan von Imhof (18:14):
There’s no regulation around this stuff. There’s no lemon law. This isn’t like buying a car, buying a house for that matter. There’s no insurance. I mean, you gotta just do your homework due, due diligence. So actually ATPA, I started the due diligence program, um, to help buyers. Um, we would basically, you know, do that due diligence for them, even then it’s not guaranteed, but it goes a long way. Cause you know what to look for after years and years of doing it. Um, you know, it takes some work. It takes some homework, but, um, you know, you, not most sites are good. Most people are good. There’s not that much fraud out there, but let’s not kid ourselves. It does exist. So there, there is an inherent built in risk to the whole, the whole game
Reed Goossens (18:55):
Flipping now to old stock co give us an idea of you talk about alternative investing. When I, when I hear in alternative investing, I think real estate, right? Because the traditional stocks and bonds and mutual funds is what, you know, all the, all the, you know, financial advisors love to push, but your, you are even alternative of real estate. What, what, what are you selling on on, and what are you raising money for today, uh, for your investors?
Stefan von Imhof (19:19):
Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, when we first started Alco, it was like, do we wanna go tall or do we want to go wide? Right. Meaning like, do we wanna focus on just like one or two, like verticals or niches or do we wanna be broad and right away, like white. And I were like, no, let’s, there is so much happening out there. So many new investible asset classes let’s go as broad as possible. And so what’s happened is fascinating right now because like, there’s, you know, confluence of trends happening, right? So there’s, um, new technology coming online. There’s new regulation, right. Especially what’s known as reg a in the us, which basically makes it extremely much easier for companies to securitize assets. Uh, this is a brand new legislation. It’s less than a decade old now. Right. So, um, that’s kind of given to the rise of a lot of new alternatives.
Stefan von Imhof (20:07):
That’s what gave to the rise of a lot of fractional real estate, for example. But then now that’s been expanded to fractional collectibles and, um, all sorts of stuff. I mean, all sorts of, you know, new asset classes. I think the big, the third big trend is like just the rise of the retail investor, right? Like people taking, you know, they’re investing into their own hands as opposed to trusting a, you know, financial advisor with their money. They’re like, no, I can do this. I can do my own research online. And what have you. So all of these three trends have kind of combined into one. And so to answer your question, I mean, we, we cover everything from books to comics, to video games, um, vinyl. That is one of our favorite alternative asset classes. Right now we do music rights is a fantastic one, litigation finance.
Stefan von Imhof (20:50):
We cover peer tope lending. We cover, um, I mean, if it’s not a stock or a bond, we cover it. Art wine are huge, real, estate’s interesting because to your point, real, estate’s like the original kind of like OG like alternative investment, but there’s so much happening even within real estate that we consider alternatives. And so that’s what we try to focus on. So we love like vacation rentals. I’ve, uh, I managed two vacation rentals. Uh, I love ABUS accessory dwelling units. Like I’ve built an ADU in our place in Santa Barbara. I love retirement communities. I love, uh, storage is great, you know, especially like cold storage is really interesting. Data centers are really interesting. So like even within real estate, there’s all this alternative real estate. That’s really interesting to us. Um, and that’s kind of what we try to focus on most as opposed to just, you know, residential. So yeah, it just runs the gamut. I mean, we’re really all over the place. If we have a look at the site, you’ll see what I mean. We, we cover, we cover everything.
Reed Goossens (21:47):
For those of you who are interested in staying up to date with all the latest happenings in my business, or to learn more about passively investing directly into my multifamily value, add deals, then head over to reedgoossens.com And sign up for my monthly newsletter by signing up, you’ll automatically be notified about my new up and coming investment opportunities. You’ll be able to stay up to date with all the latest real estate news here in the United States and much, much more. So head over to reedgoossens.com and sign up date now back into the show. How, how do you, you mentioned comic books and vinyls. How do you value that? And, and it is, is it very similar to like wine and art is all in the, the eye of the beholder.
Stefan von Imhof (22:34):
So art and art. Okay. So each, each market is very different. This is what I love about what we do is like you get to learn the intricacies of each market. So art is valued, uh, less on the eye of the beholder than you think , art’s mostly fine. Art’s mostly valued on Providence, right. So who owned it before? And of course like who the artist is and all that, but wine is interesting. Wine is just a nice, steady up into the right, like consistently over the years, it’s like just completely not correlated to anything else. Um, it has its moments where it goes down for sure, but, uh, the wine market’s fascinating. Cause like the Chinese are starting to develop a big taste for wine. You know, a lot of like Australia, for example, they’re just exporting a lot of wine to, to Asia now.
Stefan von Imhof (23:17):
Um, here in France, you know, he, uh, certainly hasn’t slowed down at all. I think France is the second biggest producer in the world beside behind Italy. Um, wine is just its own its own beast to answer your question, like, you know, vinyl, for example, and like comic books and stuff. Okay. So it all comes down to like grading. So like, um, you know, comic books, video games, action figures, they all, everything has to be grading, right. So there’s a couple of different authorities, well known authorities that are, that are grading these, um, these assets now. And so they grade them on a scale. Like you probably heard of some of these companies like CGC and like, so they basically like they grade like sports cards, memorabilia, there’s all sorts of like intricacies. I might, you know, I want to waste too much time getting into when it comes to memorabilia and stuff like that.
Stefan von Imhof (24:01):
Um, but there’s basically, it has to be authenticated. It has to be graded once it’s graded, then it just becomes a mathematical equation as far as what it’s worth. Because like, let’s say you have like a LeBron James rookie card and you know, it’s like graded, uh, you know, it’s like a 9.8. Right. Okay. So you have you look at the grade, you look at the population like how many other cards are out there that we know, um, with that same grade. Right. And so, you know, the, the more information you have the better, um, so you can basically look at like, okay, what do other, LeBron James 9.8 rookie cards sell at? You know, what have they sold at? How is that increasing? What about all LeBron James cards? Period? What about all NBA cards, period? What about an on and on you go and you basically just put that all into a giant database and you’re able to see what the market looks like, what the player looks like, what the population looks like and what ultimately what the value should be.
Stefan von Imhof (24:54):
And that’s how, you know, if you’re getting a good deal or not. Now, all of that is to say is that these markets are changing rapidly because more and more people are getting into the hobby, you know? So it’s, it’s driving up a lot of the price. Um, so it’s, it’s, it’s tricky. It’s constantly like, you know, you gotta be careful of overpaying the sports cards market’s actually down right now. So, you know, you gotta be, you know, on one hand, it’s bad. On the other hand, it presents some good buying opportunities. All of these markets are very different to answer your question. I mean, but it all comes down to what is the grade? What is the, um, the condition that that’s, that basically is everything at least with physical collectibles.
Reed Goossens (25:30):
And are you the, the storage or the housing facility of that data to present to investors? Or are you going out to other industry standard? You know, like, uh, some of these grading assets or grading companies to get that data on a specific niche within, within a specific alternative asset.
Stefan von Imhof (25:47):
It’s funny cuz like the data is, is thick in some markets and it’s thin in others. Um, so we like, in some areas it’s, there’s a lot of data, right? Um, so like the sports cards there, there’s quite a lot of data out there for example, but with like vinyl, for example, like that data did not exist. So we actually created the world’s first vinyl index. So now we understand what makes, uh, a good buy when it comes to vinyl and we understand comps. Right. That’s the other thing I didn’t mention before, is it, it, all, everything comes down to comps. It’s actually similar to real estate, right. So when you’re selling a house like, Hey, what are the similar square footage in this area, in this neighborhood? What did that sell for? And then you put it into a machine and you come out with a number it’s very similar in, in collectibles.
Stefan von Imhof (26:27):
Right? So I mean, yeah, comps is a huge part of it. A lot of the data is out there, like with real estate, for example, it’s already out there, but again with vinyl and, and some of the, these other markets, we’re actually the ones creating it. Mm-hmm um, so with wine we just borrow the data it’s we, we just buy the data basically, it’s it? Uh, live X is the biggest, um, wine tracker in the world, wine price tracker in the world. Um, LIex.com. Uh, there’s no sense in re recreating the wheel. What’s interesting about live X though, is they don’t cover tequila. And so we’re creating the world’s first tequila index. Right. So when I say like, we’re alternative, like we’re we like to think of ourselves as like all alters, right? Like we take alternative to like a whole nother level and that’s, those are the realms we like playing in.
Reed Goossens (27:09):
And, and so with all the, the valuations going on, are you, you are really just looking for the, the, the asset to appreciate in value over time. Right. You obviously can’t enjoy the wine, you can’t enjoy the tequila. And, and so you, what is a, a typical investment look like when you’re raising your fund? Is it a, a three to five year hold? Is it a 10 year hold? Like, what do you, what’s the sort of time horizon there.
Stefan von Imhof (27:33):
So we, so the alt one fund that we’ve raised, that’s a 10 year fund. And that’s what it has to be because, you know, I mean, there are other alternative investment funds out there. Some of them are three year funds. Yeah. Fine. If you wanna try, go for that, like go for it. I mean, we’re not, we’re, we’re buying for the long haul, right? Like we’re saying that the Beatles record that we just bought, uh, by the way, we just picked up a copy of the white album, uh, second pressing number two, ever pressed in the world. We think it was owned by John Lennon. Uh, we’re saying that, that I don’t know what it’s gonna do in one year or two years. I’m saying in 10 years, that’s gonna be a lot more than we paid for it. Right. So we’re buying for the long haul. Absolutely. Yeah.
Reed Goossens (28:14):
And are you store, where’s all this memorabilia being stored and, and, and all that sort of stuff. So to obviously you have to take a lot of good care of these pieces of oh yeah. Of, of artifacts nearly like to, to make sure that they hold their value over a period of time.
Stefan von Imhof (28:27):
Luckily there’s a whole sub economy that’s sprouted up around, um, what we call vaulting. So that’s that handles the storage that logistics, the shipping and the insurance, um, on these assets. So I, it, you know, as sad as it is, I’ve actually never, we just won the Beatles, uh, vinyl album at auction. I haven’t seen it yet. , I’m probably not gonna see it for a good year. Uh it’s it’s being shipped to a secure facility. Um, yeah. So there’s all sorts of, you know, there’s a whole sub economy that, that takes care of that now.
Reed Goossens (28:55):
Yeah. Got it. Got it. And how much of, and I don’t wanna get into a taboo subject here, but is, is it all around tax, uh, tax benefits of investing in these assets? Because, you know, they’re, they’re, they’re in travel, they’re in transit, like, like the, or is it actually for the appreciation over the long term? Or do you get both? Cause you get the depreciation
Stefan von Imhof (29:15):
Definitely don’t do this for any tax purposes. And I, I would, I’d be the last person to advise on tax stuff. I mean, that changes like per every jurisdiction’s different. Like I don’t even go there. It’s all about the appreciation for, for now, but those are some of the assets that we buy. Like, so some of them have nothing to do with appreciation at all. Right. So like, uh, music rights for example, is one that we’re really excited about. Right. Um, music rights are fascinating, so there’s nothing physical there. I mean, it’s all digital, but it’s not about appreciation. It’s about cash flow. It’s interesting about music rights is that it’s similar to websites in real estate for that matter. And that it, it provides cash flow, right. So it spits out cash completely different value proposition than something like, you know, comic books or video games. Right. Um, so we haven’t purchased any music rights for our fund yet. Uh, that is the one I’m most excited about actually, frankly, that, that is of all the alternative asset classes. I think that is the most underrated, uh, and nothing comes close.
Reed Goossens (30:10):
No, I know a couple of investors here in Los Angeles who are real estate investors, but they also are music, right. Investors as well. And then obviously LA interesting, you know, the city of, uh, Hollywood, it is, uh, obviously full of those types of people and you, you can make some big money. Right. I just did who, who sold their rights recently? Was it, um, someone, someone notable
Stefan von Imhof (30:31):
Did di Dylan was the one Dylan. Yes. Yeah. I mean, so this is fascinating because like, there is a lot of music, right. Sales activity, but it is all happening on the high end. Right. So it’s like, you know, hundreds of millions of do Bruce Springsteen sold his catalog too. Yes, that’s right. We yep. Yep. Uh, 300 million. I can’t even remember. I mean, it’s just bonkers, you know? Um, but it’s a great deal. I mean, it’s a terrific deal. He, it is basically Bruce fast forwarding 30. I mean he probably, I think he got like 30 X for it. Right. You know, or maybe 35, 40 X. Right. So is he even gonna be around in 30 years? Like who knows? Like, so it’s a no-brainer for him, but for a fund they’re making a bet on, you know, like that this will be valuable 30 years from now.
Stefan von Imhof (31:13):
Right. And, um, the answer is, I think personally yes, for someone like Dylan and Springsteen, but that’s all happening at the high end. Right. So on the low end that no one’s touching the low end. I mean, there’s just very few sales under a million dollars. Hmm. But it’s, to me, that’s like such an opportunity because it’s like, think about like, if you’re an artist and you’re making, I don’t know, $50,000 a year, let’s say, right. So like pretty good money, but like also not great, like not enough to like really, you know, you know, build a life you wanna live or like buy a house for your family or, you know, so if someone comes along and says like, look, you know, I’ll pay you a quarter of a million dollars right now for everything that you’ve just, you’ve already written everything from here on out is yours.
Stefan von Imhof (31:56):
Everything from this day passed is, is ours. Right. You know, who wouldn’t that like, that would be so compelling to so many artists, they get to fast forward, like five, six years of their life. You know, they’re able to reinvest that in whatever they want to invest in, you know, they’re able to, you know, start a family or do whatever they wanna do. And this stuff is just not happening. Like, I, I mean, I’d love to talk to your friends by the way, like, please introduce me if you can’t ask the call. Yeah. Um, I mean, I’m not kidding around like it, I love, I wanna talk to anyone who’s making moves in this, in this field. Um, but my guess is they, they would be doing it at above the million dollar range and, you know, there’s really nothing stopping anyone from doing it at, at any level, you know? So, uh, it’s really, it’s a great market, really fascinating market
Reed Goossens (32:37):
Where, where where’s alts.co going, what, what, what’s the big picture for this in the next five to 10 years?
Stefan von Imhof (32:42):
So we, what we’re gonna be doing is we’re gonna be building an alternative investment platform. Right. So you kind of think about, about our evolution is we started as a newsletter and then move that to like investing community. And that’s where we’re at today. We’re an investing community with a fund, right? The, also the one fund, the next logical progression. And frankly, the last stop I think for us is to, um, build a platform, right. So a, we would become a broker dealer and we would be able to transact, uh, alternative, uh, assets all on the platform, um, through us. Right. Uh, there’s a lot that goes into that. Um, and we’re actually, we’re actually right. Smack in the middle of raising money for us, for the business right now that just kicked off like two weeks ago. So , we’re right. Smack in the middle right now. But, um, yeah, that’s, that’s what we’re, you know, that’s what we’re planning on, on doing.
Reed Goossens (33:27):
That’s awesome. That’s awesome, man. Yeah. Well, at the end of every show, we like to dive into the top five investing tips. You ready to get into it?
Stefan von Imhof (33:34):
Let’s do it. I got my final sip of wine here. Let’s do it.
Reed Goossens (33:36):
That’s awesome. Mate. Blake, uh, what is the daily habit that you practice to keep on track towards your goals?
Stefan von Imhof (33:42):
That’s an easy one. I mean, so, uh, my partner and I, why we have a daily standup and uh, I mean, it’s, it’s a must because like we work remotely, right. So he lives in Spain. I usually live in Australia. And so, you know, we basically like communication is everything for us. Mm-hmm um, so, uh, it’s an easy one, just first thing in the morning for him, for me, it’s the end of the day. Uh, but we, you know, just make sure we, we, we, uh, all us being equal, we try to talk every single day. Um, so that’s an easy one. Yep.
Reed Goossens (34:10):
Uh, question number two is who’s been the most influential person in your career to date.
Stefan von Imhof (34:16):
What’s interesting is for a long time, I would’ve said Steve jobs. The interesting thing is about Steve jobs though, is that, well, lemme take a step back. The reason I love Steve jobs so much is because he was like, he had both the left brain and the right brain just firing, right? Like he was creative as hell, but he was also analytical and cutthroat and you know, a little bit on the spectrum. , mm-hmm, , I, that’s a, that’s a rare combination. Right. Um, I try to be balanced in everything I do. And I felt that Steve jobs had had fantastic balance. However, Steve jobs had a very different approach to management than I do, and I’m trying to grasp and wrestle with that fact. So Steve was like notorious to work for right. Um, I try to win people over with kindness. And so, you know, we’re very different on that, in that level. And so, you know, I, I think I, I still, I still think he’s just the, the one I admire the most and just in terms of what he’s done, how he’s done it, um, uh, as different as we are, I think he’s, yeah. He’s who I I’d have to go with.
Reed Goossens (35:10):
Awesome. I’d love it. Question number three is what’s the most influential tool in your business? Now, when I say tool, it could be a physical tool, like a, like a journal or your phone, or it could be a piece of software that you just can’t run the business without. What is it?
Stefan von Imhof (35:23):
You know, what’s funny is like, we we’re getting so far away from just phone calls and I don’t know why. And, and like, you know, I’ll be on slack sometimes and I’ll be like chatting with one of my, you know, teammates about something. And I’m like, what am I do? Like, why does no one just pick up the phone anymore? Like call, you know, like, it’s just right. I don’t understand. Like, it’s such an easier way to just deal with things and like, get things done. I, I happen to love phone calls. I mean, I know like you talk to like gen Z and like an aversion to the phone. They won’t, I mean the phone,
Reed Goossens (35:52):
Why are you calling me? Yeah.
Stefan von Imhof (35:55):
You know, that’s fine. I guess it’s a generational thing to me. It’s just, I don’t know. I, I mean, even the thought of like doing a phone call over a zoom meeting is like, please, like, you know, it’s just so much easier. Sometimes I hate having to turn on my camera half the time for zoom meetings. I just, I, I just like calling people, you know? So yeah. I mean, for me, it’s like the phone, the old school fun.
Reed Goossens (36:14):
Yeah. Love it. Love it. Question number four is in what’s in one sentence, what has been the most, uh, or the biggest failure that you’ve faced in your career and what’d you learn from that failure?
Stefan von Imhof (36:25):
Oh, over leverage in 2008. I mean, so like I alluded to before, I mean, we were, uh, my business, like we were super over leveraged and the other thing we were dealing in video games, which like, aside from cars, nothing depreciates back to the video games in the world. Uh, I mean within six months of a video games released that they’ve lost 30, 40% of their value and it just goes down from there. Uh, so yeah, we were, we were leveraged to the, to the, you know, to the UHT with the, with video games and accessories and then oh, eight hit hit and we took a huge loss. And the thing is I was young and like, I was able to recover from it. And we recovered really, really well, actually, like I said, we didn’t actually go outta business. Um, and we could have, we, we re we picked up the pieces and, and put ’em back together, which is really a great lesson as well. But, you know, it taught me a lot about it taught me a lot about leverage and, and, and just, um, you know, how to manage leverage. It’s interesting because leverage, I think is fundamentally a very good thing. Um, but I think understanding the power of its by directionality is very important. Yeah. And, you know, 2008 definitely taught me that. So I I’ll, I’ll never forget that lesson that’s for sure.
Reed Goossens (37:32):
Awesome. Well, mate, last question is where can people reach you to continue the conversation they wanna be in your sphere? Where do they go?
Stefan von Imhof (37:38):
It’s easy, man. Just go to alts doco and, you know, check us out, see if you like what we’re getting into and like the stuff we’re talking about writing about and, um, you know, just sign up for our newsletter. Our newsletter is kind of where everything starts. Um, so just, you know, go to the site, sign up for the newsletter and, um, reach out anytime. I’d love to hear from you. It’s um, Stefan at alts.co
Reed Goossens (37:57):
Awesome man. Well look, SFA. I love talking to you today. It’s a very been you probably the, the first episode I’ve ever spoken to someone who’s selling and buying, you know, playing cards or bottles of wine, or, you know, in, in, in that sort of different world that I, you know, we all hear about, but I do love the vision of where you’re going, cuz like, like the music rights it’s so niche, you really have to understand it. But when there’s not a lot of competition in there, you can definitely pick up some really good buys. So creating a platform like what you’re doing is fricking awesome. Uh, and I think it’s got a big growth potential into the future as you keep to be, you know, providing that MGAs for your investors to come and transact on the, the Al alt you know, alternative, uh, investing, um, platform. So, so I, I wish you all the best. Um, man, thank you again for coming on this show and enjoy the rest of your week. Ah,
Stefan von Imhof (38:49):
Thanks. Reed thank you very much.
Reed Goossens (38:51):
Well, then you have another cracking episode gak with some incredible advice from Stefan. And if you want to go and check him out, it’s alts.co. So alts.co definitely go check it out. It’s a huge, gonna be I think a really big success in terms of just cultivating all the different alternative investment opportunities that are out there that I don’t even know existed. Right? And you can really invest in anything you want these days. And this is a platform that helps you go and do that. Now, if you do like this show, the easiest way to give back is to give it a five star review on iTunes. All the notes from today’s show will be up on my website at Reedgoossens.com. And I wanna thank you all again for taking some time at eDay to tune in, to continue to grow your financial IQ. And we’re gonna do this all again next week. So remember be bold, be brave and go give life a crack.