Introducing Ambr Grading

Our origin story. Our team. We hope you find what you're looking for.

Stock picture of a workstation at Ambr

Why are we here?

Ambr Grading was founded in early 2021 by a group of nerd entrepreneurs that love gaming and collecting. We recognized the need for improving the card grading industry that wasn’t adjusting to modern demands and taking care of TCG collectors and players.

We’ve built this company to be “in it” for the long haul. While we recognize the industry surge as we are launching, this was not the motivating factor for launching the business. We feel we have unique tools and technologies that can deliver a new and different product to the TCG community.

We are completely founder-funded and operated. We don’t have to answer to external investors, big VC’s, or third parties with differing interests. This allows us to build a product and service that we truly believe improves the TCG world.

We also recognize and respect the giants in the industry. They have helped establish many of the “best practices” and set an expectation in the market. Our goal is not to undermine them; rather we seek to compete in a thriving market with the intention to introduce new technologies that benefit everyone, and ideally have these technologies become new industry standards.

In our internal road map, we have additional technologies we plan to bring to market (but aren’t quite ready to tell the public about yet). We will continue to release more information once they are ready.

Finally, we want to be as open as we can. There is a lot of material to cover and we will be releasing content to cover it all. If you have a question or need clarification on anything please reach out to us.

Leadership Team

Our founding team has deep roots in the TCG world, multiple gaming realms, and tech-startup and business communities. We feel this has equipped us with the proper blend of areas of expertise to build and grow a TCG Grading Company that offers a truly different and unique product.

  • Emil Tremblay

    CEO & Dungeon Master

    Team lead and company vision. Lead software developer. Emil has extensive experience in the tech startup world. At Ambr Grading he designed and built the cloud-based software stack and leads strategic planning. He has been the Principal Investigator (PI) for Phase I and Phase II National Science Foundation (NSF) grants, and has been the lead on raising venture capital for multiple ventures. Additionally, he has direct experience with anti-counterfeiting and tamper detection technologies, data protection methods, and system engineering. In his personal life he is an avid PC gamer, musician, and Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master.

  • Daniel Clarke

    VP, Operations & Card Guardian

    TCG industry expert and lead on Authentication and Grading Process. Daniel is an L2 judge for Magic: The Gathering, an intermediary of high-end cards, and a collector of TCGs since 1993. His deep experience with TCGs makes him uniquely qualified to be the principal designer and active supervisor for the authentication and grading process and activities at Ambr Grading. Additionally, he earned his MBA from Grand Canyon University and spent eight years in the U.S. Navy under Naval Special Operations as a diver.

  • Tommy Rompel

    VP, Marketing & Master Artificer

    Physical product design lead / marketing lead / equipment specialist. Tommy originally started collecting and playing MTG in 1994 and has been a life-long video gamer. He fills the “Macgyver” roll at Ambr Grading and leads the physical product design, equipment specification and maintenance, and oversees marketing. His career has been spent as an entrepreneur and he has extensive experience in operations, sales, marketing, and customer service. He graduated from the Eller College of Business at the University of Arizona with a B.S. in Business Economics.

  • Tony Grega

    CFO & Chancellor of the Exchequer

    Finance expert / human resources / compliance. Tony’s experience includes dozens of start-ups where he provided the financial expertise on their paths to success. His key functional areas include financial planning & forecasting, bookkeeping & accounting, and compliance. He originates from Canada where he became a Certified Professional Accountant (CPA) through the Society of Management Accountants of Canada.

Origin Story

How we got started

In early 2021 we were looking at the rapidly growing collector card market and the card grading industry that was expanding with it. It was apparent there were multiple problems in the industry that were left unresolved. The proliferation of fake cards was the most glaring issue, and from our perspective neither the TCG companies nor the grading companies were doing much about it.

The TCG companies make a high quality product that is difficult to fake, but lots of fakes come close and it takes a trained individual to know how to spot the forensic differences. We also could not identify any effective anti-counterfeiting technology being used on the individual cards, or any of the packaging layers. On top of that, we also saw a lot of fake cards being graded and encased by many grading companies - these companies simply did not take the time, or know where to look to properly identify these cards as counterfeit. Grading and encasing a fake card incorrectly labels it as “authentic” from our perspective. Too often people get burned on purchasing fake cards thinking they are real (including ourselves).

As TCG players we also felt the TCG market was underserved. While the main driver in the collectable card grading market is sports cards, TCGs are growing and in high demand. From our perspective most grading companies appeared to have an expertise in sports cards (and truly do an excellent job), but also graded TCGs without the same depth of knowledge.We often saw TCGs cards mis-identified and mis-labeled as a result.

From our backgrounds and prior tech-startup experience, we actually had a set of unique tools and technologies that could help with a lot of these problems. Card grading demand and lead times had also soared (many grading companies were backlogged 6-18 months) and it appeared their main priority was in dealing with the back-log problem and that they were not interested in introducing new technologies or significantly changing processes.

After much research and diligence we decided to start a new grading company specializing in TCGs where we could build an entire system, set of processes, and product from the ground up with modern technologies.

While every part of our process is important - we’ve placed a priority on three major aspects - reliable authentication practices, consistent grading, and giving you control over the aesthetics of your card.

Transparency

In order to properly claim a card as authentic, determine a grade, and propagate trust within the TCG community; we find it critical to be transparent. In fact, we have defined it as one of our core company values. Transparency works both inwards and outwards - to our customers and to our employees and partners.

For our customers, this means we document what we see, show it to you, and explain our processes. This, however, does not mean we will tell you everything - some aspects are trade-secrets, and individual data is held in confidence.

Roots & Community

Ambr CEO speaking at the Tucson Metro Chamber of Commerce
  • Giving a speech at the Tucson Metro Chamber of Commerce
  • Ambr Grading CEO Emil Tremblay (right)
  • Former Mayor of Tucson Jonathan Rothschild (center)
  • Startup Tucson CEO Liz Pocock (left)

Our team has deep roots in the local business and startup community. We believe community connection, treating employees well, and “paying it forward” benefits everyone even if you don’t see an immediate payout. Many organizations and people within the community have helped us overcome the inevitable obstacles that accompany a tech startup's launch. While we have received a lot of support, there are two organizations we want to mention specifically.

First, is Startup Tucson. We have been involved with them for several years now, and they have been extremely supportive during our launch. During our product development phase we had access to their prototyping lab which included equipment such as 3D printers, laser cutters, and operational support. In the fully equipped Startup Tucson Media Studio we captured the photos and videos used in our marketing materials.

Second, is the University of Arizona Center for Innovation (UACI). The Ambr Grading facilities are located within the UACI section at Tech Parks Arizona. UACI is a startup incubator network with locations across Southern Arizona. Their facility has provided our company with physical security, high-tech amenities, renewable energy and lots of room to grow! Additionally, their program provides subject matter expertise and on-site labs.