The Sports Entrepreneurs Podcast by Marcus Luer
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 a 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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