The Sports Entrepreneurs Podcast by Marcus Luer
Craig Thompson, “Champions League And Beyond”

Craig Thompson, “Champions League And Beyond”

January 22, 2021

Craig Thompson has been on the forefront of Sports Marketing across the globe for over 30 years. We are taking a close look into his remarkable career with a deep dive into his role as a Founding Member of TEAM Marketing and the creation of the UEFA Champions League in the early 90s.  Amazing stories and lots of great learning as always from a true veteran of the industry.

 

 

Key Highlights

  1. From professional Beach Volleyball in California to Lausanne, Switzerland with FIVB and not a happy start/ending
  2. Next stop FEI (Equestrian) leading him to ISL, working with Peter Sprogis on IAAF events
  3. Credits and accolades to Horst Dassler for being one of the true founding father of our industry, unfortunately passed away too young
  4. From ISL to a founding member of TEAM Marketing with Juergen Lenz and Klaus Hempel
  5. The “TEAM” started from ground Zero again, the big opportunity, tendering for the Champions League project (had to raise Swiss France 200 million as part of the deal)
  6. TEAM wins the tender and has 8 months to pull off the first Season  (1992) – create broadcast schedule, sponsorship programs, operations, club manuals, etc
    • First time “mid-week Football matches”    
    • 8 Teams (two groups of 4 teams)
    • Every match at 8.30pm CET (appointment TV)
    • Country by Country Broadcast deals
    • Broadcast Sponsorship inventory from Broadcasters
    • Commercial Advertising Inventory (free spots) sponsors didn’t know what to do with it
    • Broadcasters had to show a post-match highlights of all the matches (drove exposure for all teams and competition)
  7. Success formula of TEAM was true TEAM WORK
  8. How to deal with the big teams and the egos in the room
  9. Challenges and success stories in the early days, highly successful product now with over US$ 5 billion in annual revenue
  10. The Dutch World War II story
  11. Tough decision to leave TEAM for personal reasons
  12. Champions Hockey League (Ice Hockey) – the next project – raised EURO 60 million – 2008/09 recession killed it, revived and still running now
  13. Next stop America’s Cup in San Francisco – changing the rules and appeal of the sport for younger audiences – racing Catamarans in SF Bay
  14. Cameras on boats, sailors with mics, and other inventions including America’s Cup Healthy Ocean campaign (Larry Ellison wasn’t a big fan)
  15. Mindspring Capital – focus on tech companies getting into sports (looked at over 600 companies the last two years)
  16. Mindspring Capital is a Team of investors and experts across the world, focused on early stage companies (B2B focus), paid advisor role and investor at the same time
  17. Ticket size, US$ 250k for 10-25% of company, plus advisory fee back
  18. Leadership lessons – rallying a small group of professionals, full transparency, listening to the best ideas in the room and getting rid of bad apples fast
  19. Love for sports and love for the job and picking your mentors and leaders carefully

 

 

About

For more than 30 years, Craig Thompson has been intimately involved in the creation and management of some of the most recognized sporting events across the globe:

CEO | 34th America’s Cup
Together with Russell Coutts, CEO of Oracle Racing and four-time winner, Craig created and launched the concept for AC34, which included the use of catamarans, racing next to shore, shorter TV-friendly format and the creation of the AC34 World Series.

CEO/Owner | Ovation Sports AG
Craig developed the concept and directed the inaugural season for the Champions Hockey League in association with the IIHF in Europe. Also specialized in development and management of sports properties and events for the Juventus Football Club, Spanish Basketball League, and UFL United Arab Emirates National Soccer League.

Managing Director | T.E.A.M. Marketing AG
In his role with the exclusive worldwide marketing agency of UEFA for the Champions League, Craig was a management board member for 11 years and key member of the 6-person team responsible for initial creation and subsequent development of the Champions League project. The Champions League generates billions in annual sponsorship and TV revenues and is Europe’s most important club competition in Europe’s most important sport — soccer.

If anyone is interested to reach out to Craig, please contact at: craig@mindspring.capital

 

 

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Andrew Craig, “40 Years Of Olympics & Racing”

Andrew Craig, “40 Years Of Olympics & Racing”

January 15, 2021

Andrew Craig, is a true industry veteran, from being an early executive member of ISL Marketing to rising to Deputy CEO, to leading CART as their CEO to a successful IPO, before spending the last 20 years as Consultant with his own business (The Craig Company) across successful Olympics Bids, International Sports Federations and motorsports.

 

Key Highlights

  1. His early days, getting started at Nestle as a Sales Executive in the 70s before moving into the Advertising world and starting his first agency in PR & Marketing
  2. Early involvement in motorsports and with Adidas
  3. Which turns out to be a fork in his career and lead to joining ISL as Marketing Director just shortly after it was founded by Host Dassler (son of Adi Dassler, founder of Adidas), with Juergen Lenz and Klaus Hempel leading the charge (early 80s)
  4. ISL’s Glory Days in the 80s – representing FIFA & UEFA, creation of SRI, first research firm in the industry, etc
  5. The Olympic TOP Program and the true story and players behind it – from Samaranch to Horst Dassler
  6. Key to it was bringing all the individual National Olympic Committee rights together under one umbrella
  7. Greatest moment, his first Olympic Games in Seoul in 1988
  8. What went wrong at ISL, bankruptcy in early 2000 (he had left in 1994) – death of Horst Dassler and Lenz & Hempel leaving – leadership issues
  9. Joining CART (Championship Auto Racing Teams) Series as CEO, open wheel racing series in the USA
  10. Big challenge from the start with Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Indy 500) owner Tony George
  11. Two Racing Series competed for a period of time,  CART and Indy Racing League (IRL)
  12. Taking CART public on New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in 1998, reason and process, benefits to team owners, valuation went up to US$ 750 million
  13. Some discussions with Bernie Ecclestone to buy F1 -  CART dissolved in 2003 and was purchased by Indy Racing League. Recently Series bought by Roger Penske
  14. “The Craig Company” – starting his own Consulting business in 2001
  15. Olympic Consulting – working with Olympic Bidding Cities – Vancouver, London, Sochi, Paris, etc
  16. The role and responsibilities of being a Consultant to Olympic bidding cities
  17. Understanding the fundamentals of the voting system – the art of winning bids (emotional connections)
  18. His role with Ifs (International Federations) linked to their Olympic participation (Olympic Wrestling story)
  19. Legacy Sports vs New Sports in the Olympics – his views on the balancing act and Esports potential   
  20. The big 2020 events which moved to 2021 – his and my views on Tokyo and others
  21. World Lacrosse’s Olympic ambitions  and his work with startups as investor & advisor
  22. To reach Andrew +12488192100 (phone) & thecraigcompanyllc@gmail.com

 

About

After an early career with Nestlé and in advertising, Andrew Craig moved to sport when he joined senior management at ISL Marketing in 1983. Responsibilities included work on the FIFA World Cup prior to focusing on the successful development of the International Olympic Committee’s global marketing program.

In 1994 Craig was appointed CEO of Championship Auto Racing Teams in the USA. Craig executed a successful IPO for the company on the NYSE in 1998. He consulted on the negotiations for the F1 Grand Prix in Baku. He served as Vice Chair of the FIA Touring Car Commission from 2008 to 2015 and as a Member of the FIA Endurance Racing Commission from inception through until 2018. Currently Craig is Permanent Representative in North America for the FIA World Endurance Championship.

Craig has extensive involvements in the Olympic World. He worked on four winning Olympic bids - as an advisor on Vancouver 2010 and as Senior International Relations Advisor on London 2012, Sochi 2014 and Paris 2024. He was an advisor to the International Golf Federation on its campaign to become an Olympic Sport and as Senior Advisor to United World Wrestling on its campaign for reinstatement in the Olympic Games. He served as Senior Advisor to the European Olympic Committees on the development of the European Games and served on the European Games Coordination Commissions for the 2015 and 2019 editors. Craig is Senior Advisor to World Lacrosse on its long term campaign for Olympic inclusion.

Craig serves on:
The Advisory Board of "Wait Time"​ (http://www.thewaittimes.com); a tech start up that optimizes service times at sports venue concessions and other time critical locations.
As a Director of “HookIt”from 2007 to 2017 and continues as an Adviser to the company. “Hook It” connects athletes with brands and measures athlete engagement through social media in real time. (www.hookit.com)
As a Director and Founder of Sport at the Service of Humanity (www.sportforhumanity.com)from 2014 to 2020.

 

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Pete Vlastelica, “Internet Entrepreneur Turned Esports League Builder”

Pete Vlastelica, “Internet Entrepreneur Turned Esports League Builder”

January 7, 2021

Pete Vlastelica is a true product of the Internet and Silicon Valley boom era, studying in Stanford in the late 90s and later getting an MBA at Berkeley.  From his entrepreneurial exploits building, growing, raising funding and eventually selling Yardbarker to FOX Sports to his most recent role as President & CEO of Activision Blizzard Esports (including Commissioner of the Overwatch League), building the Overwatch and Call of Duty Franchise Leagues.  Incredible stories and insights into his illustrious career and close up look into the world’s first franchise Esports Leagues.  

 

Key Highlights

  1. Coming out of Stanford into Disney Internet Group in late 1999, going to London
  2. Back to New York working in a design and software agency
  3. Back to California for an MBA at Berkeley, focus on Entrepreneurship – while studying focused on starting his own company
  4. First idea failed, fractional ownership of Music rights (too complicated)
  5. Started Yardbarker with four buddies from Berkeley – first investors was one of the instructors, friends & family, bootstrapping, US$ 100k lasted 18 months
  6. Yardbarker become the largest network of sports blogs, with over 1,000 independent sites, bloggers and pro athletes (pre-Twitter days)  
  7. Growing the platform to over 22 million uniques and attracting millions in advertising dollars
  8. Funding rounds, from US$ 100k, to US$ 1 million to US$ 6 million (Series A) from proper VC investors (valuations in the twenty million range)
  9. Competition from other Ad Networks and 2008/09 Financial Crisis came along, new lessons, going into survival mode
  10. Fox Sports buys the business in 2010, a successful transaction for everyone involved
  11. Fox Sports Digital & Fox Sports days – building the digital platforms within the Network (FS1) – “sucked into the belly of the corporate beast”
  12. Joining Activision Blizzard, a true Gaming Giant (US$ 67 billion valuation), to build their new Esports Leagues modelling the sports franchise model
  13. Overwatch League – first League in 2018 with 12 teams – after 12 months of planning, building rev share model, governing structures, etc  
  14. Building a global City based franchise League – first of its kind  - attracting top owners (NFL, NBA, Premier League team owners)
  15. Educational process with investors – franchise fees starting US$ 20 million now up to US$ 30-50 million (3rd party sources)
  16. League monetizes League sponsors, media rights, licensing, merchandise, etc and shares with the teams in addition to prize pool (like in traditional sports) – first season reaching US$ 200 million in revenue (3rd party source)
  17. Building an entire League infrastructure from scratch, including minor league structures around the world, ultimately building a career path for players
  18. Call of Duty League – similar model but not as easy as copy/paste, designing a League to fit the Game, different styles and modes
  19. How 2020 effected the Leagues and season – huge learning curve on online vs offline competitions
  20. Dynamics between Teams and top star players – opportunities for sponsors and partners
  21. Korea learning – cultural export from K-Pop to Esports
  22. Interactivity between Gamers and fans, way beyond traditional sports model – Esports is taking fan engagement model to another level – sports needs to learn from it
  23. Comparing Esports Leagues vs Major Esports Competition with tens of millions in prize money
  24. Dota 2 – The International – tens of millions in prize pool, mostly generated from in-game purchase and special access passes by the fans
  25. The difference to traditional sports – short game of content (shorten supply vs demand), Esports is the opposite, 24/7 interaction with fans

 

About

Pete Vlastelica is President and CEO of Major League Gaming (MLG), a division of Activision Blizzard devoted to creating the best esports experiences for fans across games, platforms and geographies. Prior to MLG, Vlastelica was the Executive Vice President of Digital at FOX Sports, where he focused on content and product development, social media, technology, and creation of multi-platform content properties, including the Emmy-award winning “Garbage Time with Katie Nolan”.

He directed the growth of FOXSports.com and the mobile app FOX Sports Go, where he oversaw the streaming of thousands of live sporting events, including Super Bowl XLVIII, which set a new internet record for streaming viewers for a sporting event. Recognized for his influence in the sports media industry, Vlastelica is a member of Sports Business Journal’s prestigious “Forty Under 40” Class of 2014. Vlastelica earned an MBA from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley and a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy from Stanford.

 

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Seth Berger, “A Coach at Heart - from AND1 to Sixers Innovation Lab”

Seth Berger, “A Coach at Heart - from AND1 to Sixers Innovation Lab”

December 30, 2020
Seth Berger has seen it all, took the risks as an Entrepreneur, build an iconic brand in the process (AND1), sold the business, with success and failures along the way. He shares his amazing stories here with us with a smile and laughter. The Sixers Innovation Lab gives him now the playground to follow his passion, being a Coach at heart. Listen and learn. Tons of incredible Entrepreneurial lessons in here.
 
 
Key Highlights
  1. How it all started - coming out of Wharton Grad School - AND1 Database Marketing business early days...
  2. Great Entrepreneurial start up stories not to be missed
  3. The real AND1 started in a Pizza place
  4. As an Entrepreneur you are winning and losing every day.
  5. Ego is the brother of insecurity. And Seth has no time for either
  6. Focus on 16 year old Basketball consumers - AND1 T-Shirts were born
  7. Some luck - MJ retired for the first time and his brand stopped selling and retailers were looking for something new 
  8. From T-Shirts to Shorts to Basketball Shoes - almost bankrupted the company in the process
  9. Incredible Stephon Marbury story - Marbury 1 - break an ankle with SM
  10. Business took off from there hitting USD 280 mil in revenue and become 2nd biggest Basketball shoe brand in the USA
  11. Creativity a key to the success - great slogans "call me Mayor because I spend all my time downtown" 😂
  12. Commitment and focus and no space for ego
  13. Birth of Mixedtape Tour and ESPN's Streetball
  14. Selling the company - the stories and emotions behind it
  15. The story behind "Tai Chi" - Vince Carter, 2000 NBA Slam dunk contest
  16. Hoops TV - ahead of its time and despite all efforts it failed
  17. Sixers Innovation Lab (SIL) - reconnecting with Scott O'Neil & HBSE
  18. SIL's USP - access to HBSE network and affiliated services and cash
  19. Invested in 14 companies, sold one so far
  20. From sports gambling, Esports to health drinks - broad range with a focus on B2C - examples
  21. What are the three most important factors to chose investments: Market, Team, Idea 💡
  22. Ask the right questions. Technology today allows you to find the right answers
  23. Focus currently on US companies but open to others
  24. Gaming & Esports - it's real and might become bigger than real sports
  25. SIL's three investment in this space (U.gg,..)
  26. Betting on young talent
  27. Basketball "Coach" at heart

 

About

Managing Director, Sixers Innovation Lab

Seth Berger earned his MBA in 1993 from the Wharton School and his Bachelor of Arts in Economics from University of Pennsylvania in 1989. Seth has been the CEO of four businesses in the consumer space, and his fifth “venture” has been to build an elite high school basketball program as Head Coach. In these ventures, Seth has started with a hyper focus on the understanding of the target consumer, with the philosophy that every consumer business must meet and communicate a specific consumer need to survive. After that, he has worked to create branding and marketing strategies to drive messaging that sticks in a world of constant consumer messaging.

 

AND 1 — 1993-2000, 2002-2005

As Founder and CEO of AND 1, he ran an upstart basketball sneaker, apparel and entertainment company. After starting out selling screen printed tee shirts in 1993, the Company moved into the broader apparel and footwear market. AND 1 reached its height it 2001, when it attained the No. 2 spot in the US basketball footwear market. At its peak, AND 1 had revenues of $285 million, including its licensees. In addition, AND 1’s entertainment division created the Mix Tape tour and Streetball, an ESPN series that was the No. 1 rated show among male teens, eclipsing SportsCenter. AND 1 also donated more than 5 percent of its annual profits to youth-based charities. In 1999, the partners sold a stake in the business to TA Associates, a venture firm out of Boston. In 2005, the company was sold to American Sporting Goods, a private shoe company based in Irvine, Calif.

 

HoopsTV.com — 1999-2001

Seth served as CEO of HoopsTV.com from 1999-2001. He helped raise $15 million in financing for the business, hired its staff, and launched a site dedicated to basketball fans all around the world. Despite negotiating a partnership deal with ESPN.com, the business was unable to generate enough revenues to continue, largely because broadband capabilities were not strong enough to sustain its business model. Seth shut the business down in 2001.

 

Lightning Gaming — 2005-2006

In the fall of 2005, Seth took on a part-time CEO role for another start up, Lightning Poker. This business was the brainchild of Brian Haveson, former CEO of Nutrisystem. Brian was traveling the country as a professional poker player, and he approached Seth with his idea and patent. Seth helped raise $1 million in financing, hired a staff, created an automated poker table, and negotiated an international distribution deal with Shufflemaster, a public company. After 12 months, he turned the Company back over to Brian, as part of their original agreement for his term of service. Lightning Gaming now holds many slot machine licenses, in addition to its original product, and is a non-traded public company. More information can be found at www.lightningpoker.net.

 

Gravy Train — 2011-2012

Seth self-funded a small venture in the mobile gaming space. GravyTrain created a Facebook game, “imthnkgof” (I am thinking of), and launched it in December of 2011. Although the idea was executed well, the market for these games started to crash, led by Zynga, and Seth shut down the business before wasting too much money.

 

The Westtown School, Westtown, PA, 2007-Present

Seth is currently the Head Boys Basketball Coach at The Westtown School, in Westtown, PA. He has had this role for 12 years, and was an assistant for two years before that. His teams have a 72 percent winning percentage, and they won their league title seven of the last eight seasons. The team won the state championships in 2016 and 2017, and have four runner-up finishes. The Westtown program is a high level athletic and academic program that has helped many kids move on to play Division 1, 2 and 3 basketball in recent years. When Seth took over the program, the team had a 3-15 record in his last year as an assistant, and it had only won one basketball league title in 1986.

He and his wife, Christelle — also a Wharton School graduate — have three boys. They also have guardianship of five brothers from overseas who attended the Westtown School and now live with the family. Prior to Wharton, Seth was Legislative Director for US Representative Harold Ford, Sr. from 1989-1991. He was, at 21-years old, the youngest Legislative Director on Capitol Hill. As an undergraduate at Penn, Seth was a four-year letter winner, captain and MVP of the Sprint Football team. He played one year of junior varsity basketball. Seth also received the Bowl senior award for service to the community. He is still waiting for his first 10-day contract in the NBA.

 

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Drew Sheinman, “Private Equity With a Heart”

Drew Sheinman, “Private Equity With a Heart”

December 19, 2020

Drew Sheinman’s career is 40 year smorgasbord in the world of sports, sports marketing, entertainment and now Private Equity from MLB, MSG, Coca-Cola, Breeders Cup, Endeavor to now Brand Velocity Partners.  Incredible journey from the humble days of a management trainee in the MLB in 1979 to now running his own Private Equity partnership. As always, enjoy listening and learning.

 

Key Highlights

  1. Starting his career as one of the first Management trainees in the MLB
  2. Baltimore Orioles stories, working with new ownership, winning the World Series in 1983
  3. Next stop New York Mets, as a Yankees fan, creating new marketing and revenue streams.  “Let’s go Mets” rally song for 1986 World Series Champion – according to Rolling Stone Magazine, the greatest anthem in baseball. https://youtu.be/2N4VIXM1RJk
  4. Two World Series Rings from Orioles and Mets days. Started his first own company, integrating sports and entertainment. Investor pulled the plug.  
  5. Madison Square Garden – marketing and business development for the teams across many different genres, sports, entertainment, etc
  6. Created the first MLB Fan Fest around the All-Star weekend.  MSG owned the concept.  Still running 20 years later.
  7. Coca-Cola Director Sports Marketing – they wanted someone from the outside looking in
  8. Coca- Cola Olympic City – at the Atlanta 1996 Olympics, Theme Park concept, etc almost a 1,000 presentations to get it approved – great success story
  9. From FMCG to Real Estate -  Running Malls for Simon Brand Ventures (250 Malls across the US). Turning them into entertainment complexes. 2 Billion visitors annually. Simon live media network.
  10. Tiki Barber (NFL NY Giants player) partnership -  Tiki Ventures (replicating Magic Johnson success story, bringing athletes into business opportunities)
  11. Breeders Cup – Chief Marketing/Revenue officer – 30-day crash course around the industry –
  12. Endeavor (WME-IMG) – Brand Ventures – first agency for retired American Football players (22,000), talent management from athletes, Hollywood stars to supermodels (Agent 2.0) – working with Kobe Bryant
  13. Brand Velocity Partners – Private Equity – started 2 years ago – independent sponsors model (closed several acquisitions already) – focus on middle-market companies
  14. Barbeque Guys – brought in Manning Football family and other players as investors and brand ambassadors
  15. Core Values:  integrity, kindness, carrying -  creating balance – do well and do good
  16. Not a fund (independent sponsor model) – looking for deals which fits the model, Ebida threshold.  Then raise the funds to close the deal.
  17. Looking across health, wellness, Tech, food & nutrition, etc -  other deals Original Footwear (Military Footwear),
  18. Reflection on 2020 – was a great year despite the challenges – all funds raised virtual
  19. Vision Works-  Rebels Spirit – agave spirit from Mexico – new category called “Avila”

 

About

If you want to launch, scale or monetize your business, you want Drew in the room. He's a self-described "white space" guy. The guy that not only looks forward but looks around to come up with fresh ideas to grow your business.

Drew has a results-charged track record of guiding premier companies and iconic celebrities to differentiate their brand and optimize revenues through the development and execution of ground-breaking concepts, strategic partnerships and new business ventures. His ideas have created a billion dollars of top-line value.

What makes Drew extremely valuable is his proven ability to shape his ideas for profit and take them to market to his vast and well-connected professional network. Drew particularly enjoys building new categories, the most challenging and exciting work of all. He is best known for envisioning and making markets in sports and entertainment for: Endeavor(WME-IMG), MLB, International Olympic Committee, Coca Cola, Madison Square Garden, Simon Property Group, Breeders Cup, NY Mets, and Baltimore Orioles.

Drew is a Partner of Brand Velocity Partners, a disruptive lower-middle market private equity firm that focuses on consumer and data companies with $5-30 million of EBITDA. BVP is differentiated because of its focus on marketing, something its competitor’s lack. Drew takes great pride in BVP’s core values -- integrity, thoughtfulness and kindness.

Drew is also a Director and Partner at Revel Spirits, a high quality importer of all agave spirits produced exclusively in the Morelos region of Mexico. All Revel spirits meet the high-quality standards of a trademarked new disruptive category now called “Avila.”

Drew “lives every second of every day” and loves spending time with his family, dog and doing his part, such as mentoring kids in sports to make the world a better place to live. 

 


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Chris Smith, “Gaming/Esports 101″

Chris Smith, “Gaming/Esports 101″

December 5, 2020

Chris Smith, a true Gaming/Esports expert turned Entrepreneur based in Australia. We are going BIG into Esports & Gaming, learning from Chris’s background and then a deep analysis into the difference between Esports and traditional sports, including detailed discussions on numbers and revenues for Gamers and Influencers.

 

Key Highlights

  1. Early days, pathway into the industry, turning his passion into a career, started as a player in a top four team in Australia (playing Battlefield, CSGO)  
  2. Commentating on games, promoting LAN Parties – connecting into the industry through various roles, learning the different parts of the industry
  3. Thermaltake Australia – Marketing & Esports Community Manager
  4. CCC (Chris Creative Collective) – first taste of entrepreneurship – online marketing, events, websites and other services
  5. EGAA (Esports Games Association Australia) – board member & PR/Communication
  6. BIG Esports – esports, gaming and influencer business – including his own Podcast – operate like a “VC growth company”
  7. Difference between Gaming and Esports (US$ 150 billion vs US$ 1 billion) - all about reaching GenZ  
  8. Australian Gaming/Esports landscape – about 10% of the US market, similar games and dynamics as the US (LOL, CSGO, FIFA, etc)
  9. Comparing Esports and Sports ecosystem
    • No clear career path for Esports players compared to traditional sports yet
    • League structures (Closed vs Open Leagues) – Overwatch World League - Franchise League (US$ 30 mil entry ticket)
    • Esports teams vs Pro Sports teams – 70% revenue from sponsorship, prize pool going mostly to players,  LCS/LOL player starting salary US$ 300k                                                             
      • Many Teams operate more like an “agency”, from content creation, events, licensing, etc
      • Owners and creators of content are the big winners – FaZe Clan great example  
    • Changing Meta (Most Effective Tactics Available), changing the rules of engagement in a game – pros and cons
    • Influencers & Gamers – Gaming is the interface – top Esports athletes are often influencers but also plenty of influencers who are not Pro-gamers
      • Monetization – gifting, donation, subscription, advertising, sponsorship dollars
      • All about accessibility – building a strong community big or small  & creating entertainment
      • Lots of examples of what influencers can generate
    • Revenue splits -  Apple/Google – 30% cut of every dollar – Epic/Fortnite is battling it
    • Platforms:  Twitch, Steam, Discord, YouTube Gaming, etc – places to find GenZ      
    • Examples of cross-fertilization and new forms of partnerships between Movies, Music, Sports IP and Gaming companies

 

About

With twelve years’ experience in gaming, esports & technology, Chris Smith is the founder & director of BIG Esports (www.bigesports.gg) – Servicing the industry through bringing new ideas and revenue lines through the door by partnering with traditional companies, sports and influencers.

Chris’ experience is wide-ranging, coming from his history in semi-professional play, community & national event coordination, game commentary, community management, business development, consultancy and PR & marketing across esports, gaming, influencers and enthusiast technology.

A major focus of present is sports celebrities becoming gamers, LinkedIn content and new revenue-generating business ideas for gaming. Past & present clients include: Fox Sports, Gemba, HOYTS Cinemas, JBHIFI, NVIDIA, ASUS, Intel, AMD.

 


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Claude Ruibal, “40 Years of Learning in Sports”

Claude Ruibal, “40 Years of Learning in Sports”

November 27, 2020

Claude Ruibal is another true Legend in our industry, with nearly 40 years across multiple major companies and roles over his career.  It’s a bit longer than the usual podcast as it was impossible to put four decades of incredible experiences in the usual 60 min.  Hang in there, it’s worth every minute, learn from his stories, from his early days at the LA 84 Olympics to his roles at ISL, Coca-Cola, Universal Sports Network, YouTube, Infront to now consulting with start-ups.

 

Key Highlights

  1. Early days,  out of law school, getting involved in the LA 84 Olympics with two years to go to the Games – negotiating deals as part the Olympic Families team
  2. Learning to work as a team and overcoming the Russian pullout, was the big learning
  3. Next stop, Democratic Presidential Campaign – Michael Dukakis
  4. United States Football League – new American Football League – managing player relations, contracts – one of the owners was Donald Trump (and listen to what happened)
  5. From the US to Europe/UK – Saatchi & Saatchi – big UK agency – working with major clients who were sponsors of major events, ie. the 1992 Albertville, Winter and 1992 Barcelona, Summer Olympics
  6. Off to Switzerland, ISL Marketing – SVP, selling media and sponsorship for the IAAF properties (International Association of Athletic Federation) now World Athletics
  7. Back to the US, leading Coca-Cola’s global Football program (over US$ 300 million investment) – Leading new campaigns, ideas and activations
  8. Dotcom boom time, getting into Ask.com (Ask Jeeves) – selling search solution to the IOC, helping raise capital for country-specific launches, having to manage things during the dotcom crash
  9. Universal Sports Network – after 20 years in corporate/agency roles, co-founding (with Tom Hipkins) a multi-platform cable channel for Olympics sports (outside of the Olympics) for the US market – original name WCSN (World Championship Sports Network)
  10. Taking an idea from start to a full fledge business, bringing in PE group InterMedia Partners – heavy capital intense business, which then attracted NBC Sports
  11. From the start-up world – next stop -  Google and YouTube – Global Head of Sports Content – cleaning up the illegal use of content on YouTube,  building trust with IP owners in the platform
    1. Rightsholders clearly not happy with YouTube but also using them to scare traditional broadcasters that Google/YouTube might get involved in rights bidding
    2. New business model, some upfront guarantees against advertising dollars for the bigger sports, but mostly a rev-share model of ad dollars
    3. 2012 – 2014 Olympics, first time streaming bigger live content on YouTube & live stream of Red Bull Stratos jump (2012) – biggest live concurrent stream at the time (9 mil)
    4. Pushing YouTube to go after more sports rights at the time, looking at subscription model besides the advertising model
    5. His views for the future in the rights space – subscription (B2C) and ad model is the key for many rightsholders
    6. YouTubes, rev share model – quick insights
  12. Wanda Sports Group (Infront & HBS) – continuing his learning, taking charge of Digital, Production and Sports Solutions
  13. New technologies from digital on-field branding, ie. different branding for different regions to driving innovations in Infront X Lab
  14. HBS, Chairman of the Board, more oversight role, strong leadership team with Francis Tellier leading the production
  15. Latest role, Ubiquity Sports - working with start-ups in interactive digital fitness, athlete tracking, contextual advertising solutions and AI-driven solutions

 

About

Claude Ruibal is a senior, results-driven leader who has extensive experience in both the sport and digital industries. His impressive career has included many strategic and entrepreneurial roles across the US and Europe, including most recently as Chairman of HBS and SVP Infront - Digital, Production & Sports Solutions. Prior to that Claude was the Global Head of Sports Content Partnerships at GoPro, and before that as Global Head of Sports Content at Google/YouTube. Previously, he acted as Chairman & CEO of Universal Sports Television Network and Director of Global Football Management at the Coca-Cola Company.

He contributes proven abilities such as starting and managing new ventures, developing and executing integrated consumer-marketing and sales programs as well as building front and back end consumer Internet streaming and content solutions. Claude Ruibal has a Juris Doctorate from the Georgetown University School of Law and a BA in Political Science from the University of California Santa Barbara.

 


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Michael Broda, “From Eastern Europe to Esports”

Michael Broda, “From Eastern Europe to Esports”

November 14, 2020

Michael Broda originally from Cologne, Germany (my hometown) is now building an Esports Group from Prague, Czech Republic.  Insiders know that Eastern Europe is a hot bed for start-ups with smart tech entrepreneurs in the region.  Michael plays both across his native German-speaking markets and Eastern Europe and is now looking to conquer the world with ESPL, a new gaming platform for the casual gamer.  Lots of great insights into the Esports ecosystem and tech side of the business.  Enjoy.     

 

Key Highlights

  1. Michael’s early days being a Banker in Commerzbank Cologne, at that time it was cool to be a banker
  2. Moving from Cologne to Prague (Czech Republic), back to his parents’ roots in a CFO role for a strong midsize company (EURO 400 mil turnover) in his mid-late 20s
  3. Start of Delta Capital,  15-20 investments, using his own money. Started with turn-around of distressed companies and then start-ups. Combining old and new economy.
  4. Starting his first investments in Esports and Gaming -  esports.com – portal about Esports news and info
  5. Sold esports.com to Pro7/SAT 1 Media group
  6. Founded Esports Investment Group (EIG) -  several early stage investments
  7. Focus on digital infrastructure, data, monetization and traffic – focus on growth of Esports industry beyond the US$ 1 billion
  8. Vibadou – German social media platform – all about creating authentic content, started with Pro-Football teams, future Esports teams
  9. Esportido – white label club and athletes app for unique fan and sponsor engagement
  10. Fantasy.ai – data scientist looking at new solutions for Esports community, from matchmaking to AI solutions
  11. Gaming to Esports, closed data to open data, knowing who is in front of the screen and then provide the best products for them
  12. Eastern European IT startup ecosystem vs Silicon Valley, price advantage and high quality, networking is key
  13. ESPL.gg – Esports Players League – from bedroom warrior to Pro-player
  14. TwoG Nation (another one of his investments) helped ESPL to start its tech engine.
  15. Singapore and Kuala Lumpur (KL) connection via his partners in ESPL
  16. Structure of Esports Ecosystem from top-level tournaments by Publishers to amateur events on 3rd party platforms – building a career path from amateur to pro-player
  17. Mobile Esports focus – initial focus on South East Asia (SEA) because of strong mobile first and some markets even mobile only markets
  18. Expanding globally, 12 markets now, Mexico, India, etc, currently about 100k registered users – target 1 million next year
  19. Free for now, future Freemium model – special content, coaching, etc
  20. Franchise Model.  ESPL provides the backend system, local team runs the local marketing and brings the customers
  21. Last thoughts on Esports and the growth in future  

 

About

Michael Broda is a German serial entrepreneur and former investment bankerHe studied both, banking and finance, MBA and strategic management, MSc. He started his career in 1998 in Commerzbank Cologne and moved into the investment banking focusing on financial markets and financial derivatives.

In 2002 he moved into his first top management position, becoming CFO of CE Wood, a medium sized cee wood processing company with USD 300 mil revenues and 5000 employees in the Czech Republic. 

In 2006 he started his own venture and founded Delta Capital, an investment holding which invested into distressed assets, later also startups. Under the roof of Delta Capital he founded several companies, and acquired and sold more than 15 companies. 

In 2016 he made his first investments in the sports industry starting with Fantasy sports and later esports.com. He was fascinated by the esports industry and took over esports.com as CEO, 2 years later the company was sold to Pro7/Sat1 Media Group, one of the biggest media houses in Europe.

For the past 4 years he is very focused on the business of Esports, especially in the area of AI, infrastructure and new solutions in this space. Michael is currently leading ESPL as Founder and CEO.

 


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Alex Dreyfus, “From Poker, Online Betting to Fan Token”

Alex Dreyfus, “From Poker, Online Betting to Fan Token”

November 5, 2020

Alex Dreyfus, originally from France, now living in Malta, one of the betting and Blockchain hubs of the world. Alex is a true serial “net-preneur”, having started several internet related businesses, exited some successfully and struggled with some others. We are diving deep into the world of Blockchain, Tokenization (Club Token) and his current platform Socios.com powered by ChiliZ.  Alex, is raw, open and shares it like it is (enjoy the colourful language).

 

Key Highlights

  1. Started off as a computer geek in his hometown in France, first computer at the age of six and build his own Online Forum at the age of 14
  2. Left school at the age of 18 without any degree & without parents approval, in 1995, created his first company Mediatis which he sold later to Publicis Group
  3. Next act, Webcity.com – initial great success and then company went bankrupt (lesson, not as important to be first….)
  4. Took a short term job to survive and then started working on his next move, WINAMAX , online poker and sports betting website targeting France (license from the UK)
  5. Sold his shares due to conflict with partners and moved to Malta (2006) and started Chiligaming – Chilipoker – online betting
  6. Sold business six years later to listed US company (Bally Technologies now called Scientific Games, listed company)
  7. Next founded Global Poker Index, global poker ranking (ATP of Poker) – started to create a “sports like product” - Global Poker League (only lasted one year, currently on hold)
  8. Learned the importance of monetization of fanbase and that’s how ChiliZ got started
  9. Love hate relationship with Crypto initially – anti-Bitcoin before he started to understand the tech behind it while working on Esports and Fan engagement ideas
  10. ChiliZ – raised US$ 66 million through private placement in first half of 2018 (at the height of ICO’s, before crypto crash).  Got timing right (compared to Sportsfix, Marcus’ ICO in later 2018)
  11. ChiliZ is the currency of the ecosystem, the Token for activities.  Also includes an Exchange to trade the token.
  12. Originally focused on Esports but gave up due to various reasons and focused on traditional Sports teams  
  13. Socios.com – fintech fan engagement & monetization platforms for sports teams
  14. Vision – 99% of fans are not in the Stadium, how can you get the 99% deeper engaged using a Fan Token (creating Superfans)
  15. Having a share of voice – digital asset vs crypto currency  - Fan token are not a crypto currency –
  16. Socios.com launched a year ago,  300k downloads, people buy and trade token
  17. How to buy Token on the platforms…..transaction flow
  18. Tiering of Clubs decides level of Token being put out into the market
  19. Pricing of token, initially set – fluctuation based on demand once listed
  20. What is a fan – many ways to define, Fan token purchased by Crypto enthusiasts (50%) (early adopters) and superfans (non-crypto audience) (50%)
  21. Currently token only traded on ChiliZ platform, soon tradeable outside on other exchanges
  22. US$ 5-6 million worth of token sold (not money raised as you will hear 😊)
  23. Business Model – for Socios and Clubs  and discussion about other innovative Tokenization and blockchain ideas to wrap it up

 

About

Alex is a serial web entrepreneur with more than 22 years of experience in the digital space, building and developing tech businesses. In the late 1990s, he pioneered Webcity, the web-based interactive tourism guide, before completing a buyout with retail giant Carrefour, and later merging with a competitor service and selling to Yelp. After co-founding Winamax (the largest French online poker room) and Chilipoker in 2006, the underpinning technology platform was sold to Bally Technologies (now Scientific Games).

In 2013, he acquired the Global Poker Index (live Poker’s leading ranking authority) as well as The Hendon Mob (the largest live poker database in the world). Dreyfus recently raised $66 million through a private token sale for Chiliz – a digital currency for sports and entertainment platforms. The first platform that will use Chiliz Tokens is Socios.com, a turnkey solution for football and sports clubs looking to adopt blockchain technology to monetise their fan bases.

To boost blockchain innovation in Malta, Dreyfus has also established the Chiliz Blockchain Campus –an accelerator and industry hub connecting some of the industry’s largest stakeholders across Asia and Europe, together with other emerging blockchain entrepreneurs. The Campus houses world-leading exchanges, crypto-friendly European banks and is a collaborative space for small to large blockchain companies.


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Patrick Murphy, “From Dublin to Taking Over Asian Football”

Patrick Murphy, “From Dublin to Taking Over Asian Football”

October 31, 2020

Patrick Murphy's fascinating career path, took him from selling door to door Junk Mail in Dublin to working in Newscorp in Hong Kong, TEAM Marketing in Switzerland and back to Hong Kong to now managing one of the largest Sports IP in Asia, the Asian Football Confederation’s commercial rights through his new partnership (FMA).  Great stories and lots of insights into the future of Asian Football.

Key Highlights

  1. Getting started by selling Junk Mail in Dublin after school (1984-85) – door to door sales
  2. His decade in the TV world, from ITV in the UK to Star TV in Hong Kong (Newscorp) in the 90s
  3. Murdoch’s focus on Sports – creating Sports Corp inside a broadcaster (ESPN-Star Sports) – creating IP
  4. Journey back to Europe, joining TEAM Marketing in Switzerland (exclusive agent of UEFA Champions League)
  5. UEFA Champions League – billion dollar property – sponsorship & media deals
  6. UEFA taking a stake in TEAM eventually
  7. International Champions Cup (ICC) – created in the US by a US real estate billionaire (Stephen Ross)
  8. Top European Clubs playing against each other in the US and globally instead of the old format of playing local teams during the summer window
  9. FMA (Football Marketing Asia, previously DDMC Fortis) – the start of a new huge venture, taking over AFC (Asian Football Confederation commercial rights)
  10. Leveraging his TEAM (UEFA) experiences and confidence that they can pull this off
  11. Offer to work with AFC on an exclusive basis as one key differentiator & offering top Dollars (knowing that this will win or lose it) and playing the China card right
  12. DDMC (Listed company in China) background and their reason for entering the partnership (through Super Sports)
  13. Let’s talk numbers, deal size in the range of US$ 2.4 billion for the next 8 years  (accept a premium was paid)
  14. And how FMA is planning to make it back and reason FMA was willing to pay the premium
  15. How to deal with the changes in the broadcast landscape and current climate
  16. Key will be “go local” , develop local heroes and drive up value of local Football rights vs international rights
  17. Media, Digital, structure of media rights, packaging and marketing it
  18. Sponsorship, important part, closer to 50% of revenue – leveraging virtual technology
  19. FIFA World Cup in Qatar in 2022,  Asia Cup in China in 2023, FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia/NZ in 2023  – big opportunities to showcase Asian Football to the world  
  20. Hand over from Lagardere Sports and building a team to get started Jan 1, 2021

About

Over 30 years' experience working in sports media and marketing. Currently a Board Member and Chief Executive Officer at Football Marketing Asia. Patrick previously founded Catalyst Media Group (International Champions Cup) and Synergy Sports (CBF, CONMEBOL) and was formerly Managing Director, TEAM Marketing in Europe responsible for selling media and sponsorship rights for the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League.

About Football Marketing Asia Limited (formerly DDMC Fortis Limited)
Football Marketing Asia (FMA / 亚洲足球商业开发有限公司), is the exclusive commercial partner of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) for the rights cycles 2021-2024 and 2025-2028. Headquartered in Hong Kong, and with offices in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and China, FMA combines unparalleled global
football experience with in-depth Asian know-how and expertise. Formerly known as DDMC Fortis, FMA has quickly become known as Asia’s leading football marketing agency delivering unprecedented value for fans, media partners and sponsors. The focus of the company is on one thing and one thing only: Asian football. It embraces the many obvious and subtle differences and needs in the markets in Asia and delivers tailored
solutions for commercial partners and fans of AFC National Team and Club football.

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The Sports Entrepreneurs University is a natural extension of the Podcast series. It's a deep dive into the world of Sports & Esports. Marcus will be sharing his 25 years of experience and learning as a Sports Entrepreneur and connecting the dots. It's a 6 weeks course with an opportunity to join an Affiliate Partnership program after. For more information HERE
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