One in 5000: Student Entrepreneur Mackenzie Wong

Art studios and paintings sold for millions- it’s been seen before. But can a sports card be considered a piece of art? Like many others in his sector, Mackenzie Wong- a senior at Francis Lewis High School- perceives them as such. He’s not the only one, he meets hundreds of other people at trade shows, where he attends with his team to buy and sell sports cards.

“I wanna say for the collectible market now, that the uniqueness is like, a lot of collectors and private clients, they see the sports card as a piece of art,” Wong said. “You’re not only just buying a plastic card, you’re essentially buying a piece of history, similar to other artwork and cars.”

These cards can sell for thousands. Wong explained that the value depends on the card’s background. The more well known athletes are safer investments and have a lower margin of profit, however there is also the thrill of newer less popular athletes, and depending on how they do the value of the card can multiply.

“You could buy a thousand dollar card and [if] that player wins the finals. It could be a $10,000 card within like a few days, which is why I also like this specific business,” Wong explained. “My biggest flip was a $36,000 card, and I probably got it for like $6,000. So I was pretty much up $30,000 on it.”

Wong explained that to make a profit when reselling a card, it takes skill during the sales process, and stepping up your sales pitch through experience, understanding what consumers want, and confidence in speaking. 

“The reason I truly enjoy this type of set market is because it really separates people in terms of like, if you’re a good seller, you’re able to sell a product, you’re able to get into this market,” Wong said. “If you’re able to buy a specific product for a hundred dollars, sell for 200, it really takes a lot of scale in terms of like, the sales process, your sales pitch. So that’s what I feel like is my specialty and that’s why I’m doing so well in this particular part.”

At an early age Wong displayed a talent in entrepreneurship. He started his first business in middle school, reselling shoes in person. He would either buy used shoes off of Ebay, from friends, or buy a new release. Most of the shoes he would resell were Jordans.  After a bit of research he learned how to grow his business online. His e-commerce business was strongest in 2020, with around 247,000 sales on Ebay in 4 months.

 “I just really researched how to scale a business on search engine optimization. I was really able to go from like a startup to well into the six figures in eBay, relatively fast in like three months,” Wong revealed. “[In terms of] the numbers, I wanna say 2020 for my e-commerce business was the strongest year for me. I want to say I was at 247,000 in sales on eBay. And it was a short time, it was like four months. I was buying shoes – 50, 60 pairs out every single week. So that was my biggest year for that.”

During the pandemic he found his way into sports cards, and thats when Macksolez was founded. He learned how to start up and run his own business through the Francis Lewis Virtual Enterprise program, where he gained his entrepreneurial talent and inspiration through friends. 

“Growing up I had a lot of friends, a lot of older friends that were experienced in running their own businesses, and that kind of just propelled me to do what I do and I learned a lot from them,” Wong said. “Just learning from older people that are experienced in this sector has helped me learn more, and be able to do what I do.”

Wong explained how his friends have impacted his business venture.

“I work with a team right now, and like I said, we kind of travel the country together. They definitely helped me a lot. One of my friends, his name is Ethan. At an early age we did shoes together,” Wong said. “We moved into cards together. So he has been a lot of help. He not only helps me in terms of learning about each specific venture, he kind of guides me, like, oh you should buy this, you should buy that.”

He expressed that his team is his major source of encouragement.

“Definitely in any business, surrounding yourself with the right people is key. I would say my team is what allows me to keep pushing,” Wong said. “Whenever I’m feeling out of it, like I don’t want to do it, they’re always on me. They’re making sure, we’re booking our flights, we’re booking our hotels for the next show.”

Wong expressed how Virtual Enterprise (V.E.) has impacted him in his venture, helping him gain creativity and confidence. Before joining Virtual Enterprise, Wong made online transactions with customers during his e-commerce shoe business, he hadn’t acquired public speaking skills until joining V.E and while exploring and gaining experience during his collectible business. His public speaking skill helps him during sales and in public settings.

“V.E has helped me a lot. Especially Mr. Power. I don’t really see him as a teacher. I see him as a mentor and he has taught me to really be more open-minded in terms of what I wanted to do,” Wong said. “Also, public speaking has been one thing I really excelled in this year. V.E has allowed me to become a better speaker, not only just in a public setting, but in terms of one-on-one sales.”

Wong also teaches high schoolers how to start an e-commerce business, and he and his team speak to large audiences about their business. 

“I would say another huge accomplishment for me personally has been helping my friends,” Wong said. “I teach other high schoolers how to start an e- commerce business and I just answer any questions about e-commerce. That to me was like one of my biggest accomplishments, not only finding success for myself, but being able to help my friends was truly my biggest accomplishment.”

During the beginning of his shoe business, at a young age he was spending thousands of dollars every week for his business. The extensive spending caused his father to become concerned. Wong struggled with receiving his parents’ acknowledgement regarding his capability in entrepreneurship, and their acceptance of what their son wanted to pursue.

“I would be spending like 10 grand, 20 grand every single week and at some point he was very suspicious about it,” Wong said. “I would say like, that was like the biggest part. It was convincing my parents this is what I want to do, and that I was capable of it.”

With time his parents became his one of his biggest sources of encouragement. Wong said his parents also provided him with legal contracts and paperwork, advice, and taught him how to balance between his school work and business.

“Not only the business side, (but also) advice in terms of, making sure- keep your circle small, and making sure- I’m on top of my work,” Wong said. “Like they have really helped me balance schoolwork and my business. So they have been like a huge support for me.”

He said one of his struggles last school year was managing between school and growing his business, but he chose to adopt strategies such as time management and planning ahead. Next year Wong will be going to Cornell, where he plans to learn more about the corporate side of business to apply to his own.

“I’ve learned to manage my time, whether it be, just staying off social media, stop procrastinating,” Wong said. “It’s definitely one of the harder things about running a business. It’s the time management.”

Wong has learned from parents, virtual enterprise, his friends, and has learned over the course of his business. Wong said he has learned the significance of consistency. He defines consistency as putting in a set amount of time into a business regularly, Wong aims to continue staying consistent in coming years.

“Just running any successful business, you need to be dedicated and you need to be consistent. Consistency is key,” Wong said. “Because you can have weeks where you’re making nothing, but if you’re consistent throughout the process and you trust in your product or service, (and) you remain consistent throughout time, you’ll find success.”