Ezra is a father, husband, and the CEO of a startup that will allow you to buy shares of iconic sports memorabilia just like you buy shares of public companies. Ezra started his career in a sales role at Bloomberg before transitioning to a New York hedge fund. He’s also helped build The Spring League, an elite development league & scouting event for professional football talent, as the Chief Financial Officer & Chief Strategy Officer. Here’s his story!
Who are you and what are you currently building?
Over 60% of people in the United States identify as sports fans and, according to studies, over 67 million people have owned a sports collectible at some point in their lives. In our society, sports are thought of as a great unifier and a common thread regardless of socioeconomic status, race or gender. The ability to own and invest in high-end sports memorabilia, however, has remained largely inaccessible to the masses. Transactions typically occur through auction houses at price points out of reach for most sports fans, and Collectable is on a mission to change that! We seek to provide an opportunity for all sports fans to invest in sports history through fractionalization. We acquire high-end memorabilia, securitize it with the SEC, and issue shares of it on our platform. You will be able to own sports memorabilia just like you own shares of publicly traded companies!
We believe in Collectable’s ability to democratize a unique, exclusive, historically strong, and illiquid asset class, to introduce an intelligent alternative to fantasy sports or sports gambling, and, most importantly, to give sports fans a way to reconnect with moments and memories that have significance both culturally and individually.
How did you come to be where you are now?
Like many others, my career hasn’t followed a straight path. I grew up in New York City and as long as I can remember I have been an avid Yankees, Giants, Knicks, and Rangers fan. My sports memorabilia collection growing up included countless signed baseballs and game-used baseball bats. I’ve also always had a healthy admiration for my dad’s Mickey Mantle card collection.
Outside of two internships while I attended the University of Michigan, my love for sports and my career remained on two separate tracks. Before graduation I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my career, so I applied to a number of positions across numerous industries.
The first interview I got was for a sales and analytics position with the financial data and news behemoth Bloomberg LP. I will never forget driving over to the Borders bookstore, purchasing Finance for Dummies, pulling an all-nighter in the library, and trying to cram for my phone interview. Somehow, I landed the job, and to the surprise of many who knew me personally, I launched a career in the financial markets.
During my first two months at Bloomberg, I worked through an intensive training course on the financial markets. While the learning curve was steep, I instantly fell in love with the markets. Each day brought different headlines, winners, losers, and strategies. I guess that in some ways, to me, it felt a lot like sports.
Within a year, I was promoted to a sales team servicing hedge funds A few months later, a client with whom I had developed a good relationship offered me a trading job at their fund. I immediately jumped at the opportunity and spent eight years there, working in various roles and capacities. While at the fund, I went back to school part-time to get my MBA from NYU Stern and I most recently served as a Portfolio Manager analyzing companies in the Consumer, Media, and Sports industries.
It was at this point that my career and sports merged on to the same track. In college I worked a few internships with ESPN and CBS Sports when they came to campus for Michigan sports broadcasts. While I really enjoyed my time working on these broadcasts, I distinctly remember conversations with many of the people I worked with about how tired and overworked they were. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to merge my love of sports with my career in a more healthy way while helping build The Spring League. The Spring League provides additional opportunities for talented players to be seen and scouted by the NFL, CFL, and other pro leagues. I gained valuable entrepreneurial and operating experience helping to build this organization.
A few months ago, I heard about a CEO opportunity at Collectable and, although it was completely different than anything I had done before, it offered me the perfect opportunity to interweave my lifetime love of sports with my career and passion for the markets. I jumped at the opportunity and am excited to see where we can take it.
What are your goals/hopes/plans for the future?
Professionally, I want to build a meaningful business and provide opportunities for growth, advancement, and fulfillment for all involved. I want to follow the leadership blueprint set forth by my dad: hire the best people and let them shine. I believe that you will succeed by allowing others to succeed and prosper.
Personally, I want to have a big family. My wife and I both grew up in loving, supportive, and cohesive households which remain that way today. That experience has shaped our lives and is something we absolutely want to replicate for the next generation. We had our first baby, a son named Eli, 9 months ago. While challenging, it has been the most rewarding and fun experience, and we’re excited to continue building our family together.
What does growth mean to you?
To me, growth is a continuous path toward self-acceptance and self-actualization. Bill Gates said, “most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.” I really identify with this message and try to take the long term view, being patient with myself, and understanding that it’s a process. My advice is to keep an open mind, try to improve incrementally every day, and go easy on yourself.
How have you been helped along your journey?
I’ve been incredibly blessed with a strong support system – particularly family. My biggest mentor, both directly and just through observation, has been my dad. My dad is the senior rabbi of a large congregation in New York City and has successfully navigated a demanding pulpit for over thirty years. The two biggest lessons I’ve learned from him are 1) being a professional means doing what you need to do even when you don’t want to do it. Be consistent, reliable, and always show up. 2) Being a good leader means having the confidence and self-assuredness to hire great people and enable them to thrive.
What do you do to take care of yourself?
Dating back to my days on Wall Street, I have been an extremely early riser. I typically wake up around 5 am and start my morning with a 20-minute meditation session through Headspace. I then try to squeeze in a 30-minute workout, while also trying to walk as much as possible during the day, which is easy to do living in New York City! Lastly, I’m fortunate to be a great sleeper. The only downside of this is that I sleep through every movie and TV show my wife and I watch together, but at least I’m well-rested!
What habits or skills are you hoping to develop in the future?
I’m a big believer in going all-in on your strengths and finding others to shore up your weaknesses. I have a relentless work ethic and constant drive to get things done. As a leader, I’m comfortable enough in my own skin to manage people well and to give them the free reign to execute. I’m strategic, good with numbers, and love negotiating to find mutually beneficial partnerships and deals. I’m reliable, timely, and dependable. On the other hand, there are so many things I’m not good at (most in fact) and for those, I try to find the best people possible with whom to surround myself in all areas of my life.
In an alternate dimension, every job pays the same. With that in mind, what career would you pursue?
I have always dreamt of being the General Manager of the New York Yankees. I guess fielding a lineup of stocks in my portfolio or sourcing sports memorabilia items for Collectable has some overlap!
If you could give your 18-year-old self one piece of life advice, what would it be?
Life is all about relationships – personally and professionally. The more you prioritize other people’s happiness and well-being, the happier and better off you’ll be in return.
If you have nothing on your schedule or an unexpected quiet moment, how do you choose to use your time?
Playing sports has always been an outlet for me. When I was younger, it was always baseball or basketball, but now, it’s golf, tennis and the occasional pick-up basketball game. I love being outside, blowing off some steam, competing, and being with friends.
How do you overcome obstacles?
Candidly, this is one area I’m constantly working on and don’t think I’ve found my solution yet. I try to remember all my blessings and be grateful for those. My biggest personal obstacle has always been a minor speech impediment–a stutter–which tends to worsen during periods of stress. It’s often a daily struggle for me, but one that I know will make me stronger and better in the end.
My mom has an incredible ability to maintain perspective and to show empathy towards others. She always reminds me that everyone is struggling with something, and that you should treat people with kindness and compassion always, because you have no idea what’s truly going on in their lives.
Is there a book, podcast, movie, etc. that has been particularly impactful on your journey?
I’ve always loved Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl, and I’ve read it three times now. I’m in awe of the strength and power of the human mind and body. The book makes you believe you can accomplish anything, under any circumstances, if you will it to be true, and that there’s beauty and positives everywhere you look, even where you least expect it.
What’s one thing you haven’t done yet, but will do before you die?
Shoot a hole in one in golf. Can’t tell you when, where, or how it will happen, but I’m calling my shot now!
What piece of advice or request do you have for our readers before you leave?
The one piece of advice that has always worked for me when encountering a big decision or crossroads is to consider what my future self would think. In 50 years, regardless of the outcome, will I regret not taking a course of action? Will I be proud of the way I acted or handled myself? These are some of the filters I use to guide my decision making, and I’ve found it to be tremendously useful.