The Sports Entrepreneurs Podcast by Marcus Luer

John West, “Power of Influencer Content”

August 19, 2021

John West, a serial entrepreneur across multiple businesses before getting into the exciting world of Sports content, influencers and social media platforms.  Started Team Whistle in 2009 after several years of figuring out his next move.  Recently partnered and merged with Eleven Sports.  Learn about his entrepreneurial journey and amazing stories of how he build a company that now has over 4 billion impressions per months across over 1,600 “Channels” of influencers and online personalities.  

 

Key Highlights

  1. Early days as entrepreneur in environmental engineering business in his early 20s – company still around till today
  2. Getting a Harvard MBA while working and sold the business
  3. Next stop, New York City – Mitchell Madison, new Consulting group – fast growing business
  4. Silver Oak Solutions – 2nd entrepreneurial company in “spend management”, software to automate spending patterns of private equity firm’s assets – sold successfully as well
  5. How he got “back” into sports and learning from his kids habits on how they consumed content (media).
  6. A group of people who made the difference in getting Team Whistle started (Geraldine Laybourne, Don Tapscott’s book “Growing up Digital”  and Mark Lazor)
  7. Researched topic for four years, personal learning curve and getting the product right – GenZ focus – first few ideas didn’t work well
  8. Focus on UGC (User generated content) across social media platforms – now managing over 1,600 channels and platforms
  9. Big hit with “Dude Perfect” , help them with wider distribution, content creation and bring advertisers to them
  10. Now over 500 “partners” (influencers) and over 200 Whistle owned channels
  11. Not going Negative – Content focused on being “positive, fun and entertaining”, focus on 13-15 year old’s
  12. Raising Money for growth – total raise over US$ 110 mil by now
  13. Revenue share model with partners and influencers - don’t need to own all the content, key is owning the data behind it and finding ways to monetize it
  14. “Brother”  big show on Snap – one great example with a social media platform
  15. 4 billion monthly views, 600 million followers globally across all channels. Currently focused on US and Europe. Expanding globally
  16. Further growth by acquisition, getting high profile investors into the business (lots of miles travelled) and partnership with Eleven Sports (Andrea Radizzani).
  17. Logic behind the deal with Eleven and the synergies between the companies – merged stock deal – combined US$ 300 mil in revenue
  18. Esports & Gaming – 25 Pro-Gamers as partners, lifestyle, etc
  19. Harvard Business School connections and his involvement as the President of the Harvard Alumni network

 

About John West

John West is the Executive Chairman of Team Whistle, which he founded in 2008.  Prior to that, he was the CEO and Chairman of Silver Oak Solutions, which he founded in 1999, and sold to CGI in 2005.  Prior to that he was a Partner at Michell Management Group, and also Founder and CEO of Enstrat from 1989 until he sold it in 1996.

John has an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BS in Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute.  He has served on several Boards at Harvard, and is currently the volunteer President of the Harvard Alumni Association.  John lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

 

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