A Valuable Hobby

March 9, 2011

David Conway, seated, holds coin

Freshman David Conway is a coin collector, history buff— and business owner.

At 15 years old, Mr. Conway founded CoolCashCoins, a coin appraisal business that values and sells collections in Fairfield County, Conn.

Mr. Conway has received recognition for his entrepreneurial efforts, including a 2010 Young Entrepreneur Award from the National Federation of Independent Business, a cover article in the fall 2009 issue of Westport Magazine and a cameo on the “What is Money?” segment of award-winning public television series Biz Kid$.

“I love what I do so it doesn’t feel like work,” says Mr. Conway.

Interested in “anything to do with money” since he was 4 years old, Mr. Conway began seriously collecting coins in the eighth grade. But he says an experience in a New Orleans coin shop in 2005 awakened a real passion.

“In this coin shop, I really connected with the history of coins and economics behind them,” says Mr. Conway. “I’m very much into U.S. history and how prices have changed over time.”

With CoolCashCoins, Mr. Conway travels to clients’ houses, evaluates their coin collections, and gives them advice on when and where to sell. He says he values collections mostly by memory and has seen collections worth up to $50,000.

“As a collector myself, I notice what people have and can advise them on how to get the best price,” says Mr. Conway.

“Appraising collections can be exciting,” he adds. “There are people who think their collections are worth the world, and people who don’t and realize they are worth much more than they thought, especially because gold and silver are so high right now.”

Mr. Conway is currently developing an application for the iPhone that will allow users to value their collections on their smart phones.

To maintain his own coin and currency collection as well as keep up with the market, Mr. Conway attends coin shows around the country. One of his favorite gets is a 1914 $20 bill, and he says he’d love to find an uncirculated “vdb” 1909 wheat penny, which include the initials of the designer Victor David Brenner and are “very rare” with a worth of up to $2,000.

At GW, Mr. Conway is majoring in international business and finance with a minor in sociology—all while running his business. Mr. Conway still travels to see clients and says he can appraise some collections over e-mail. He has started trading stock options and commodities with the money he’s earned from business.

Mr. Conway also runs a web design and social media marketing company, CatchOne LLC, that he launched with a high school classmate in 2010 and is working on launching Social Market Networks, a site that connects people around the world.

Juggling a full course load as well as two businesses may seem like a daunting task, but Mr. Conway says good organization and passion for what he does keep him going.

“I’m really good at time management and prioritization. Every night, I create a schedule for the next day,” he says.

Mr. Conway advises students who have the entrepreneurial urge to “learn through experience.”

“You can take classes and research all you want, but if you’re not going to actually experience it, you’re not going to really learn,” he says. “Experience is the most important thing.”