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April 01, 2011

Company Focus

Numis Network: Putting the Cool in Coin Collecting

by Tori Brown

Numis

Year Founded: 2009

  • Headquarters: Tampa, Fla.
  • Founders: Ian Cordell, Chris Kent and Jake Kevorkian
  • Products: Gold and silver coins

“Most people don’t yet realize just how cool coins really are, but we do,” says Kent, who coined the trademarked phrase, “Coins Are Cool.” Where did the slogan come from? Every time the team examined a new coin from one of the world mints, they couldn’t help but say, “Wow, these coins are cool!” That phrase stuck and has been the company tagline ever since.

“Whether you consider it cool or not, most likely you’ve collected a coin at some point in your life,” Kent says. And most of us have. Maybe you’ve kept some change from countries you have visited or coins given to you from your grandparents. We’ve all found a penny, picked it up and hoped that “all day long we’d have good luck.” Regardless of the day’s luck, you were at least a penny richer, which is the basic concept of coin collecting.

What Is Numismatics?

Numis Network took its name from the word numismatics. And if you’re unfamiliar with the term, numismatics is the study or collection of currency, including coins, tokens, paper money and the like. Raw precious metal, like a bar of silver or gold, is referred to as “bullion.” While collectible silver and gold coins are, in fact, bullion coins, they are also artfully decorated to represent a certain country, currency or historical event. The precious metal (silver and gold) content is what characteristically separates these collectible coins from common currency coins like lucky pennies, which are typically made of zinc and copper.

Ian Cordell’s collection includes an ancient Julius Caesar coin dating back to 50 B.C.
Ian Cordell’s collection includes an ancient Julius Caesar coin dating back to 50 B.C.

In the past, companies attempted to market ordinary bullion coins through network marketing; unfortunately, the value of the coin (which is a commodity) is predetermined based on a set market price. That makes the ordinary bullion coins more of an investment product, simply worth the value of the precious metal content, with no profit margin to support a direct selling model. On the other hand, silver and gold coins that are graded, certified and government issued are highly collectible assets and have an emotional and artistic element that enhances the coins’ value. In other words, these certified coins have what is called “collector’s value” (or “numismatic value”). And that can mean dollar signs for those buying, selling and collecting them.

To sweeten the pot, silver and gold coins have steadily increased in value, as opposed to many other popular collectibles—such as art, wine and collectible cars—which have lost value during the last three years as a result of the weakened economy. That’s precisely why Numis Network jumped at the chance to be the first direct selling company to offer high-quality, government-minted collectible coins at competitive prices to collectors.

The company, based in Tampa, Fla., launched in August 2009 with the exclusive Silver Coin of the Month Club, which offers an impressive selection of modern-issue coins from around the world. The ever-growing inventory currently boasts more than 200 coins and other related items that include coin watches, coin necklaces, Forever Crystal gift sets and Numis Network’s latest addition: ancient coins.

Numis Network Founders Jake Kevorkian, Chris Kent and Ian Cordell.
Numis Network Founders Jake Kevorkian, Chris Kent and Ian Cordell.

Entrepreneurial Spirits

“Chris Kent and I have been friends since the third grade,” Cordell says. “Growing up in Plant City, Fla., we wanted more than what we saw surrounding us.” The two shared an entrepreneurial drive as well as a strong commitment to personal development (dating back to studying self-help and success guru Tony Robbins’ books together in the 1980s).

They started their first business together upon graduating from college. That company, called Optimal Telecom, sold the first competitive, residential-local telephone service. Their second company, IDSTC (International Direct Selling Technology Corp.), emerged 10 years ago as a respected technology company in the direct selling and network marketing space, and is still going strong.

The success of their first two technology-based companies put the friends in a position to enter the product side of the business. With the help of golf buddy and industry leader Jake Kevorkian, they set out to create Numis Network. Cordell says, “Once the three of us got focused, it was really about finding the right product that didn’t compete with our current clients’ businesses, and also developing something that hadn’t been done before in the industry.” Enter a friend of the partners, Mike Mezack.

Mezack—an expert numismatist who sells millions of dollars of coins every year through The Home Shopping Network and other outlets—joined in on the discussion. “It was serendipitous timing, so to speak,” Cordell says. “All of the pieces just came together.” Through their discussions with Mezack, and their numismatic research showing the potential  sales  along with the sheer size of the collectible coin industry, the group recognized that this was a product that could be extremely successful in the marketplace … and also a bit addictive.

Cordell confesses, “Chris, Jake and I are now completely addicted to coin collecting.” Cordell’s collection includes a coin of Alexander the Great that was minted in 300 B.C., a Julius Caesar coin from 50 B.C., and his pride and joy, a Lydian coin from 600 B.C., the very first coin in history to be minted. “It’s remarkable that you can hold something in your hand that’s worthy of being in a museum,” he says. While Cordell collects ancient coins, Kent opts for modern-issue silver and gold coins for his growing collection, and Kevorkian collects them all. Needless to say, the three founding collectors are readily enjoying the perks of their business.

The Forever Crystal gift sets can commemorate special moments like a graduation or birth of a child.
The Forever Crystal gift sets can commemorate special moments like a graduation or birth of a child.

Coin Collecting 101

To get the best bang for your buck when collecting modern-issue silver and gold coins, it’s important to follow these simple standards.

  • Go for the top-of-the-line Mint State 70 (MS70). It’s the highest rating for a coin’s condition.
  • Learn the coin’s value, which is determined by rarity, condition and precious metal content.
  • Make sure the coin is certified from a top-tier professional coin grading service like ANACS (American Numismatic Association Certification Service), PCGS (Professional Coin Grading Service) or NGC (Numismatic Guaranty Corp.).
  • Buy from a reputable dealer.


Recruiting and Training … the Cool Way

As for recruiting people to their company, Numis Network has a very traditional network marketing approach. “People invite others to take a look, join the club and make money while doing it,” Cordell says. Of course, that’s complemented with online marketing, including personal websites and social networking sites—tools that are available to all Numis Network sales representatives. “In the 21 months that we’ve been in business, I’ve yet to find anyone who didn’t like silver and gold. So now we’re just looking for people who want to build a business in this unique new category of direct selling—collectible assets,” he says.

Numis Network’s recruiting may be traditional, but their training is anything but. With the help of uniquely qualified personal-development trainers—including Burke Hedges, the best-selling author of Who Stole the American Dream? and Patrick Snow, the inspirational author of Creating Your Own Destiny—Numis Network has established a world-class training curriculum known as Numis University.

The company has developed a large and entertaining selection of training videos appropriately titled “Coins Are Cool.” These videos provide a full range of numismatic education suited for cool collectors of any level, from beginners to advanced numismatists. And the personal-development philosophies, the foundational focus of the company, appear to be resonating with the sales team. More than 15,000 people have joined in just the first 18 months, and Numis Network sales representatives are now located in all 50 states and parts of Canada. This year, the company plans to expand into Europe and Australia as well. In 2012, an aggressive international strategy will take hold. “Our expectation is that Numis Network will become the largest retailer of silver and gold coins on the planet,” Cordell says.

Key Ingredients for Success

“I would say the key ingredients to the success of our company—and really any young company—especially in the direct selling industry, are having a unique, exciting and competitively priced product, and just as important, a management team that has the expertise to successfully operate the company,” Cordell says. He also stresses that new companies should have sufficient financial resources in place to address any challenges that may arise. Luckily, all three of the founding partners experienced financial success in the past and were able to fund the company on their own.

Having a good time also plays a role in the recipe for success, Kent says. “Jake and I were semi-retired before starting Numis Network, so we decided that if we were going to do this, it had to be fun.” That’s exactly why a work/play company culture is encouraged … and enjoyed. As a result, the home office is filled with high-spirited employees, which creates an atmosphere that ultimately attracts a lot of great people. “Having a good time together and building friendships at the office translates to better communication and a more energetic and productive environment,” Kent says.

The final ingredient for the successful young company: giving back. The Numis Network outreach program, Numis Cares, enthusiastically gives back to the community through a variety of local charitable initiatives like the Tampa Generals (one of the longest-running and most recognized wheelchair rugby teams in the United States), the SUCCESS Foundation® (promoting personal development in teens to help them achieve their highest potential) and Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Dealing with the demands of a startup company can be challenging enough, yet Numis has found the time and energy to devote to charity and plans to expand the charitable efforts as the company continues to grow. “Giving back to the community is a big part of our initiative, and a growing part,” Cordell says.

A Lasting Legacy

Coins can be a wise investment, especially with collectible silver and gold coins, which have traditionally maintained or grown in value over time regardless of whether the American dollar or economy has gone up or down. However, coin collecting is not only about the potential financial investment; it’s about cherishing something that will last forever.

“We don’t sell coins as investment products; we sell them as collectibles. However, there is an investment element that can appreciate in value,” Kent says.

With collectible coins, anyone can enjoy building a valuable collection of miniature art and history, in precious metals, that can be handed down from generation to generation. “Coins are a great opportunity to teach children about history and financial responsibility,” Cordell says.

That’s why coins are cool. They can appeal to everyone, from the serious individual collector to families of all ages and every demographic in between. “Everyone collects something. Our philosophy is: Why not make it an asset that will hold its value and potentially appreciate?” Cordell says, adding, “With coins, the more you collect, the wealthier you are. And that’s cool.”