The Sports Entrepreneurs Podcast by Marcus Luer
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.

-----------------------------------------------
If you are enjoying the Sports Entrepreneurs Podcast (SEP) series, check out our Virtual Sports Entrepreneurs University (SEU) too.

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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Razlan Razali, “From Hosting F1 To Leading A MotoGP Team”

Razlan Razali, “From Hosting F1 To Leading A MotoGP Team”

October 24, 2020

Dato Razlan Razali is living his childhood dream from running Sepang International Circuit (SIC) for over a decade, hosting F1 and MotoGP races and turning the loss-making facility into a sustainable business to turning his passion for motorcycling into being the Team Principal of the Petronas Yamaha Sepang Race Team which is taking MotoGP by storm the last two seasons and is on the verge of winning the Championship.  Listen, learn and be inspired by his stories on how to build a successful Racetrack and how those learnings helped him to create a very successful MotoGP racing team.   

Key Highlights

  1. His career start, selling his first company, starting a concert company with his brother and his first job interview for the CEO role of Sepang International Circuit (SIC) which didn’t go so well. Persistency paid off and he became the CEO of SIC in 2008, few weeks before the MotoGP race.
  2. Early days at SIC, he inherited a mess and had a culture shock,  rolled up his sleeve and started to make changes.
  3. Starting to charge for everything in and around the track to generate new revenues.  More professionalism and commercialization was the key.
  4. Turn SIC into a multi facet venue -  “a ballroom under the sky”.
  5. Hosting Formula 1 at SIC stories, his first meeting with Bernie Ecclestone, again didn’t go so well……
  6. 2009 the first F1 race under his leadership, made changes, focus on what’s best for SIC and Malaysia and disregarding F1 and the arrogance of F1 teams.
  7. Till the end, it was never a happy marriage with F1, race became jaded, nothing new and was eventually dropped.
  8. MotoGP was the opposite, Dorna’s Carmelo Ezpeleta was open to all his ideas and wanted to do more, the growth and success of the race since then is proof.
  9. Very vocal when F1 race was dropped,  “even given for free, Malaysia would not host F1 race”,  Reuters headline worldwide.
  10. Revealing the fee SIC paid to F1 and the reasons why the Prime Minister of Malaysia asked him to get out.
  11. MotoGP success stories, how it all started, creating local heroes by starting a young rider search, academy and having wild card riders in Moto3 (125cc category).
  12. Created the first SIC Moto3 team in 2015,  challenge taking riders from “Kapcai” racing on the streets of Malaysia to a full fledge racing machine in Europe (money, motivation and mindset).
  13. Lots of talented local riders in terms of skill but most lacking mental strength.
  14. First Season in MotoGP in 2019 – lady luck played a role – stories of how it all started – his childhood dream came true.
  15. Petronas played a key role in taking over a financially struggling MotoGP team.
  16. How he found “Fabio” (Quartararo) – stroke of luck and how he came out blazing from the start and winning “Rookie of the Year” award, first podium till leading standing now.
  17. His thoughts on winning the MotoGP Championship this year – original target was to just win the “first” race  (which they did with the first & second race of the season).
  18. Superhumans – stories of his riders dealing with crashes.
  19. Valentino Rossi – the Doctor is joining the team in 2021 – the story behind it (and Fabio leaving to Yamaha Factory team).
  20. MotoGP “bubble”, how it’s working, SOPs, rules, regulations and restrictions – importance of team talks.
  21. His prediction for the Championship with four races to go.
  22. His final thoughts on the future of Motorsports after Covid – difference between F1 and MotoGP.

About

Dato Razlan Razali is a dynamic and highly successful Senior Executive with extensive high-level successes across a wide variety of industries, including world-class event management. First-class leadership skills with excellent marketing and sponsorship development experience in both national and international arenas. Consistently aims for the highest standards on a personal and corporate level. Proven ability to generate innovative growth strategies for successful and profitable companies.

Major Achievements

  1. Sepang International Circuit receives Training Support Excellence Award 2016 at the BSI Client Appreciation Night by BSI Services Malaysia Sdn Bhd.
  2. Sepang International Circuit was awarded Project Owner of the Year Award 2016 at Shell Bitumen Technical Conference & Customer Appreciation Dinner by Shell Malaysia.
  3. Sepang International Circuit was awarded the Global Branding Award 2016 in theGlobal Brands Icon in Motorsport by Global Brands Council.
  4. Sepang International Circuit receives Utusan Business Award 2015 in the category of Sports Entertainment Sector.
  5. Sepang International Circuit was awarded the Best Event Management Company for Excellence at the rAWr Awards 2015 by the Malaysia Convention and Exhibition Bureau (MyCeb) and the Malaysia Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers (MACEOS).
  6. Sepang International Circuit received the Bronze Award in the Corporate Branding category at the Malaysia PR Awards 2014/2015.
  7. Sepang International Circuit was awarded for its excellence in the Industry Class in Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (“MICE”) in the State of Selangor, Malaysia in 2014.
  8. Sepang International Circuit received OHSAS 18001:2007 certification in 2013.
  9. Sepang International Circuit received the Best Grand Prix Award in 2012 for Malaysia MotoGP by the International Road Racing Team Association (“IRTA”)
  10. Sepang International Circuit awarded Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor 2012.
  11. Sepang International Circuit received ISO 9001:2008 certification in 2011.
  12. Sepang International Circuit was awarded the coveted Facilities Improvement Plan Fund in 2010 by the Federation Internationale de L’Automobile (“FIA”).
  13. Masterminded the creation and development of Pineapple Concerts (a successful Malaysian events management company); led the organisation, promotion, marketingand sponsorship of large-scale sell out events, including huge concerts by major international artistes the Black Eyed Peas, Lionel Richie, Earth, Wind & Fire and Kanye West.
  14. Championed and led the first mobile e-tickets programme in Asia.
  15. Successfully raised USD6 million in capital investment for WAP Portal Sdn Bhd from a listed Malaysian company and a listed company from Singapore, convincing both companies to invest based purely on a concept presentation with no physical product, which clearly demonstrates high level influencing/negotiation skills.
  16. Consistently worked at Board Level as Director, Non-Executive Director and on the Audit and Remuneration Committees for a major mechanical and electrical service public listed company, Bintai Kinden Corporation Berhad.

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If you are enjoying the Sports Entrepreneurs Podcast (SEP) series, check out our Virtual Sports Entrepreneurs University (SEU) too.

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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Robert Müller von Vultejus, “From UFA, Lagardere To SPORTFIVE Again”

Robert Müller von Vultejus, “From UFA, Lagardere To SPORTFIVE Again”

October 16, 2020

Robert Müller von Vultejus has been on the forefront of Sports Marketing for decades, as would appear in many different companies, but in reality, these groups were often an “iteration” of previous legacy businesses.  Operating for 25 years from Hamburg, Germany, Robert gives us a great inside look into all the companies and is now one of the key executives to take Sportfive 2.0 back to its glory days globally.  Listen to his fascinating career and stories across UFA Sports 1.0, Sportfive 1.0,  Lagardere, UFA Sports 2.0 to now Sportfive 2.0 again.

Key Higlights

  1. Robert's start into the industry, studied Sports Management in Bayreuth, while studying and DJ-ing started his first agency
  2. UFA Sports 1.0,  in Hamburg,  his boss Bernd Hoffman, ownership by Bertelsmann Group/RTL - the old Media Rights arbitrage game, buy/sell rights
  3. Merger of UFA Sports with Sport + (Sports marketing arm of Canal+) and  Jean Claude Darmon (French sports marketing group) – new group called Sportfive, managing the German and French culture -  lasted a few years and was sold again to Advent (US PE Group). Opportunity for management to participate in deal.
  4. New focus on “Comprehensive Marketing” of 25 Football Clubs in Europe
  5. Different models of upfront guarantees and other facilities to clubs and rights holders – mostly internally funded based on EBIT of Euro 90-100 mil
  6. Next sale to Lagardere Group (French again) for EURO 860 million (US$ 1 b)  - good move from a shareholder point of view, but company culture suffered (entire senior management left)
  7. UFA Sports 2.0, starting again with the team that left Lagardere Sports and found RTL as investors again
  8. New way of working with rights holders, open book, more transparent way – helped to grow the new business , starting in 2008 during the global financial crisis
  9. Sold UFA Sports 2.0 to Lagardere Sports (RTL was looking to exit, change in strategy)  - initially Lagardere was black listed until discussion with Philipp Hasenbein changed the view
  10. Lagardere, where did it all go wrong. Multiple reasons ……. And Recently sold for a fraction of the original value to HIG Capital
  11. Sportfive 2.0 (after the purchase by HIG Capital), reason to go back to the old name, 1,000 strong team with offices in Germany and across Europe, US, Asia
  12. Focus on Selling, still strong portfolio across the regions from rights representation to talent business and consulting
  13. Strong believe that the Agency business is still very important in the ecosystem but a new approach is needed  
  14. Sportfive in Esports – RIOT Games tournaments in Europe, T1 from Korea
  15. Career highlights and worst moments
  16. His view on sports going forward after Covid and during the pandemic

About

Robert Müller von Vultejus, born in 1969, graduated in sports economics at the University of Bayreuth in 1994. He started his professional career at UFA Sports GmbH as a manager in media rights marketing in the same year. From 1997 to 2002, Müller von Vultejus was responsible for the European football business as a member of the management board. In 2001, UFA Sports was renamed Sportfive and Müller von Vultejus was appointed Managing Director with responsibility for the German business.

In December 2007, Robert Müller von Vultejus left the Sportfive Group and in 2008, together with former high-ranking Sportfive managers, he founded a startup company named UFA Sports, later renamed U!Sports GmbH. The start-up was bought by the Lagardère Sports Group in 2015 and became part of the global network of Lagardère Sports and Entertainment. In addition to his role as Managing Director of Lagardère Sports Germany, Robert Müller von Vultejus continued to be Managing Director of U!Sports and moreover was responsible for the European Business Development Unit of Lagardère Sports and Entertainment. In April 2020, Lagardère Sports and Entertainment was sold to H.I.G. Capital.

In 2020, Müller von Vultejus has been appointed Chief Growth Officer (CGO) and is one of four members of the Executive Committee of the international sports business agency SPORTFIVE. Müller von Vultejus is a family man, plays tennis and has a preference for fitness, nutrition and cooking. He is married, father of four children and lives with his family in Hamburg.

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If you are enjoying the Sports Entrepreneurs Podcast (SEP) series, check out our Virtual Sports Entrepreneurs University (SEU) too.

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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Chris Pepe, “Road to LA28″

Chris Pepe, “Road to LA28″

October 11, 2020

Chris is sharing stories of his illustrious career from being a founding executive member of Major League Soccer, to working at FIFA World Cups and Olympics at the client-side with Yahoo and VISA which has led him to his current role as the Chief Commercial Officer of the LA 2028 Olympics and the US Olympic & Paralympic Properties. With eight years out, it’s a long and interesting road ahead.

Key Highlights

  1. Accidental entry into sports, not the typical lawyer career path.  Doug Logan, a client and first Commissioner of Major League Soccer got him involved in the new League
  2. Working at the MLS – with industry Tycoons from Lamar Hunt, Phil Anschutz and Bob Kraft and Alan Rothenberg.  From Team names to Venues, tickets, etc starting from scratch
  3. Credit to founders for keeping the League alive to the big success it is now
  4. Yahoo Days,  dot com era.  Yahoo became Partner of FIFA on 9/11 (announcement on the fatal day) and Chris’s role, FIFA World Cup in Japan/Korea
  5. Premier Partnerships, joining Randy Bernstein who left Yahoo and started the agency
  6. A decade at VISA, transition from Agency to Client-side. Lots of “internal selling” vs external. Olympic and Rugby sponsor at the time. Not yet with FIFA
  7. First VISA involvement at FIFA World Cup in South Africa 2010.  Massive issues in the transition between Mastercard and VISA prior to it.
  8. Why is VISA in Sports – growth of VISA brand is directly lined to Olympics.  Pass through rights for Banks is key.  
  9. FIFA deal, target to reach a different consumer base than Olympics.  More Debit card focused than Credit Card.  First World Cup, huge success.
  10. Marcus & Chris 1984 LA Olympics stories
  11. LA 28 – The story behind the LOGO and MARKS
  12. Eight Years out – first focus is TEAM USA and develop a long term story for brands
  13. Elevator pitch – key is to empower brands, drive engagement, drive brands business – co-creation
  14. Talking Numbers,  US$ 2.5 billion target in sponsorship.  US$ 7 billion overall budget  
  15. Balancing act between IOC Global partners and local partners
  16. Tokyo learning and how to work with partners – extension without any additional fees
  17. Learning/Lessons from his career – don’t take yourself to seriously and don’t let the job get into your head (teamwork matters)

About

Chris Pepe is a seasoned sports business executive leading commercial negotiations, property and team management, market activation and business development. As the Chief Commercial Officer for U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Properties (USOPP), the joint venture between LA28 and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, Pepe is responsible for marketing and selling rights for LA28 and Team USA from 2021 through 2028.

Prior to USOPP, Pepe was Head of Strategic Partnerships for Visa International’s North American Product Division. During nearly 10 years there, he held various leadership positions including Head of U.S. Sports & Entertainment Partnerships and Global Head of FIFA/Football Management in Visa’s Worldwide Sponsorships and Partnerships group. In these roles, Pepe managed many of Visa’s multi-million dollar sports investments and led many of the company’s global sports and lifestyle strategies.

In addition to his career at Visa, Pepe has developed business strategies for a variety of sports and entertainment properties, including the first-ever global sales network at Yahoo! and Premier Partnerships when in its startup phase. He began his career in sports as a founding executive member at Major League Soccer (MLS).

Pepe received his B.A. and J.D. from Villanova University and is a cited expert in trusted sport business outlets including Sports Business Daily, Sportcal and Inside the Games.

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If you are enjoying the Sports Entrepreneurs Podcast (SEP) series, check out our Virtual Sports Entrepreneurs University (SEU) too.

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 details HERE
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Oleg Butenko, “From Russia To Gaming”

Oleg Butenko, “From Russia To Gaming”

October 2, 2020

Oleg Butenko has an incredible life journey, coming to the US as a young boy from Kazakhstan and then moving back to Russia in his twenties to build hugely successful businesses there and now back in the USA for more. He is an extraordinary Entrepreneur and sees emerging trends before others and then goes after them like there is no tomorrow.  From his huge success in building and selling tech businesses in Russia over 20 years to now building a new Gaming business in the US with a global focus.  Listen, learn and be inspired.

Key Highlights

  1. Late 80s/early 90s, at the age of 13 he moved to California from Kazakhstan
  2. Dot.com boom in late 90s, everyone building online products and he saw the need for engineer talent from Russia in the US
  3. Early 2000, went to Moscow living out of a suitcase initially which turned into a 20 year journey in Russia
  4. Digitizing content, from older Soviet movies to News shows and sold the company to a Russian Newsgroup
  5. Creating new digital services for Mobile Devices, get to the phone and you get to people’s wallets, from Mobile TV, SMS to Ringtones/Ringback tones (8 billion dollar industry, 40% in Asia), partnerships with Mobile Carriers
  6. Looking East (China) for technology, business model and equipment and West for content
  7. Low credit card penetration and mostly Pre-paid model in Russia (similar to Asia)
  8. His time building Megalabs within MegaFon (2nd largest Mobile operator in Russia), lots of learnings
  9. Launched UMA (United Media Agency) – build leading music streaming platform and sold it to Mail.ru  
  10. Mail.ru, multi billion dollar group, owns VK – Facebook of Russia, Online Games, Search, etc
  11. Local digital players beating the big US groups in their own game
  12. Anton Cherepennikov, new partner in Esports . ESForce (owned several teams, Virtus.pro, Navi, SK Gaming), Esports arena, etc  - sold business to Mail.ru as well     
  13. VY Esports – the latest tech venture, hosting virtual events, creating new type of content, entertainment focus, not professional competitions and some big investors
  14. Gaming as a whole is the key (much larger industry), Esports is a small part of it
  15. Building a Virtual Destination, create own events, showcase talent, TwitchCon with a twist in virtual space
  16. Game1 and VY Esports partnership, to create new type of Gaming content, main stream audience focus and bring big brands into the space (Russia vs USA competition as 1st project)
  17. Styngr – Music and Gaming venture, personalized Music for Gamers
  18. How to bring sponsors into Games, examples from Garena.  Games become powerful platforms for brands to reach massive audiences

About

Oleg Butenko is the CEO of VY Esports, a global esports company which is launching a tech platform to host virtual events in the esports and gaming space. A seasoned tech entrepreneur, Oleg has a successful track record of having founded six companies worth more than a billion dollars, in the global marketplace. VY Esports is backed by a notable group of organizations including:

• The Raine Group
• Elysian Park Ventures (LA Dodger’s Ownership Group)
• Warner Music Group
• Courtside Ventures

In addition to founding VY Esports, Oleg is a tech investor in seed to early stage companies offering a trifecta of strong teams, aligned with market trends and offering a unique proposition. His latest venture is Styngr, a tech platform for integrating and licensing musical content into game play for greater personalization.

A pioneer in the field of digital music and the gaming space, Oleg created one of Russia’s premier mobile music, television, and payment platforms, which was successfully acquired by Russia’s second largest telecommunications company. He then served as CEO of its product and innovation unit, leading the business from inception to a billion-dollar-per-year revenue subsidiary.

In 2014, Oleg founded United Media Agency (UMA), Russia’s leading music streaming content aggregator which represents all digital music on Mail.ru (including VK.com and Boom). He was instrumental in executing digital rights deals with leading music labels and publishing companies including:

• Universal Music
• Sony Music
• Warner Music Group

Together with the USM group, Oleg co- founded ESforce, a global esports company holding among its numerous assets ownership of three esports teams, an esports event/production company and an esports arena.

Oleg is a strong believer in giving back to his community and is a member of YPO and is the Pacific Northwest regional champion for the Sports and Entertainment Network. In addition, he supports a wide variety of charities including:

• LA County Museum of Art (Legacy Circle & Collectors Committee)
• LA Philharmonic
• LA Opera
• LA Music Center
• The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow

Oleg is an avid world traveler for both work and pleasure. When he is not on an airplane, he and his family divide their time between Los Angeles and Lake Tahoe.

-----------------------------------------------
If you are enjoying the Sports Entrepreneurs Podcast (SEP) series, check out our Virtual Sports Entrepreneurs University (SEU) too.

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 details HERE
-----------------------------------------------
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Nigel Rushman, “From Major Events To Structured Visual Thinking”

Nigel Rushman, “From Major Events To Structured Visual Thinking”

September 22, 2020

Nigel, has been around the block for nearly 40 years in our industry, and in his typical no-nonsense British style, delivers a masterclass in Events Operations, starting with his first event in the 80s to his role as Advisor of the FIFA World Cup 2022 Bid in Qatar.  Nigel is a true entrepreneur who understands the value of working with tight budgets, putting his own money on the line and using “strategic thinking” as a key tool.  Learn about “Structured Visual Thinking” and how Nigel uses this across many new projects around the world now.

 

Key Highlights

  1. His start in early 80s at a major Athletics Events in the UK and working on the America’s Cup Victory Challenge (Media & PR)
  2. 1991 Rugby World Cup, first major gig (Media & Accreditation Services).  Alan Callan negotiated a deal for all commercial rights to the Rugby World Cup in perpetuity story (CPMA & Rushmans partnership) and the growth of the rights
  3. Moto GP story and how important it is to build relationships across the board
  4. Asian Games in Doha, Qatar 2006 – first big gig in the Middle East – scale and size of the Asian Games is huge (bigger than Olympics) and significant event for the region
  5. Qatar - “Expect Amazing” at the FIFA World Cup 2022, helping Qatar winning the bid – structured thinking process
  6. Never saw any wrong doings by the Bid Committee, playing Devil’s Advocate and initially sceptical about the air cooling system concept
  7. Many venues are temporary and will be sold to other countries afterwards
  8. Volunteer programs from South Africa to Qatar
  9. London Olympics 2012, Non-accredited Media center for the City of London
  10. Nigel’s view on overblown budgets by large event organizers, staffing vs volunteers
  11. Rushmans new focus on “Structured Vision Thinking” (optimization, planning and strategies)
  12. Biggest learning from 40 years (never react in haste)
  13. Biggest success (Rugby World Cup 1991 and winning the Qatar bid) and failure (online accreditation platform)
  14. Final tip “stay fluid with event dates in current climate”  

 

About

Nigel Rushman has spent 25 years working with governments and enterprises on wide ranging programs all over the world.

“Nigel is a continuous learner, working with enterprises to create ‘clarity of purpose’, ‘get stuff done’, “making it real”  and using “uncommon thinking to deliver common sense”.

He continues to study psychology, critical thinking, emotional intelligence, negotiation and strategy as these are becoming foundational to the vital changes businesses need to make.

After founding, building and selling marketing and PR companies, he has established and advised numerous businesses, governments and organisations across a broad range of industries including technology, data, broadcast, sports, medtech, catering, construction, manufacturing and others. He has directed and project managed over 500 political, sports and commercial programmes in more than 30 countries over the last 25 years.

Working with John Caswell, Nigel travels the world helping governments and enterprises large and small solve their challenges and master their opportunities.

A Co-founder of Venica with the mission of ‘Making Good Science Good Business’. Nigel is active in numerous businesses and initiatives worldwide.

You can find out more about Nigel through his blog www.nigelrushman.com.

-----------------------------------------------
If you are enjoying the Sports Entrepreneurs Podcast (SEP) series, check out our Virtual Sports Entrepreneurs University (SEU) too.

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 details HERE
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Dan Ghosh-Roy, “From Music to Fight Sports”

Dan Ghosh-Roy, “From Music to Fight Sports”

September 8, 2020

From aspiring Music DJ, turned Music Executives working with some of the biggest labels and artist to Chief Digital Officer at the PFL (Professional Fighters League).  Learning from the music industry and how platforms evolved and disrupted the industry and how that relates to sports now and how the PFL is leveraging the new trends to its advantage by launching its own OTT.    

 

Key Highlights

  1. From Liquid Audio, to Napster to EMI Music – the first decade in the music industry operations
  2. Early learning, the power of data, if it’s not collected and recorded properly, no revenue from it
  3. EMI Music – growth of ring-tones for Mobile devices globally – platforms starting to emerge
  4. Katy Perry story,  Last Friday Night release on Facebook through a “fake” profile
  5. Calvin Harris, how he became a big EDM star, new way of promoting an artist
  6. Beyonce, launch of Lemonade Album (Parkwood Entertainment), from Super Bowl Half time show to other creative “drops”, giving fans access to content before it goes out officially
  7. Complex Networks,  learning creative content creation and distribution there
  8. Professional Fighters League (PFL) – the difference to other Fight sports Leagues (League format)
  9. How to become a clear #2 in the space behind the UFC
  10. PFL’s OTT play and the reason why – best place for fans to consume the content
  11. Key learning from his career, be flexible and solutions oriented, turn challenges into new opportunities
  12. Cancelling the 2020 season for health and safety reasons first
  13. International Qualifiers, starting overseas early next year and then the US season 
  14. Future of digital,  anytime, anywhere, any device.  NBA leading with innovations
  15. Final thoughts on piracy   

 

About

Dan Ghosh-Roy joined the PFL from Complex Networks, where he served as SVP, Marketing and Audience Development. During his tenure, he created and curated engaging content, reaching millions of fans with varied passion points, developed customer acquisition campaigns and oversaw year-over-year growth across Complex’s social and web properties.

Prior to Complex, he served as Head of Digital for Parkwood Entertainment, responsible for the strategy and execution of Beyoncé's digital business. Dan previously held senior leadership roles at Ultra Music and EMI Music, working with the likes of Katy Perry, Snoop Dogg, Coldplay, Calvin Harris, Steve Aoki and others.

 

-----------------------------------------------
If you are enjoying the Sports Entrepreneurs Podcast (SEP) series, check out our Virtual Sports Entrepreneurs University (SEU) too.

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. Check out for more details HERE
-----------------------------------------------
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Seven Volpone, “From Musician to Entrepreneur of Sub-cultures”

Seven Volpone, “From Musician to Entrepreneur of Sub-cultures”

September 1, 2020

Seven Volpone is a true artist turned entrepreneur, from singer, songwriter to starting several businesses and now leading the Big Block Family Office and Sub-Nation to new heights across various “sub-cultures” from Esports, Gaming, Music, entertainment, Sports, etc.

 

Key Highlights

  1. Early days as music artist from Pop Rock to Country Harmony
  2. We3Kings, the first business, created Music IP for TV shows, Sports teams Theme songs, brands, etc
    • From Hit TV Sitcoms to Green Bay Packers – G-Force – helping win the Super Bowl
  3. Secret Futurist,  looking at leading technology, and tech for the future , focused on Digital ecosystems
  4. Push Point Management & Media Group – lead him to work with ESL and getting into Esports
  5. Adidas story, in the early days of Esports
  6. Realizing the power of Esports to connect with younger generations through the “lifestyle and culture” part
  7. Connecting with Bruce Bendell and setting up the Family Office, Big Block Capital Group
  8. The start of Sub-nation and building the team
    • Project with E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) on creative concepts
    • Big Vision, to be the Disney of “E-Gaming” – creating IP and partnering with venues, cities and IP owners
    • Enhancing the experience for the Gamers – content creation, new concepts   
  9. Atari Hotel concept coming to your city soon  
  10. Big Block Capital Family office – 5Cs – Culture, Content, Conversation, Commerce,
  11. Investments in Israel tech start-ups, via Surround Ventures, from entertainment, sports to media
  12. Focus on Millennials and Gen Z, guide brands to connect with this audience
  13. Tips to young executives or entrepreneurs.  Check out the “Great Fail” Podcast by
  14. Final look into the future as a Futurist

 

About

Seven Volpone is an Executive, Fund Manager and Entrepreneur who for over a decade served as President, Co-Founder and architect behind the music, marketing and branding company We3Kings. He has been recognized through out the gaming, Music, Television, & Marketing communities for not only his award winning IP but his forward thinking business development initiatives and integration campaigns that included the likes of AAMCO transmissions, Whiskey Falls & Dale Earnhardt Jr., Whiskey Falls and NAPSTER, The American Labors Union, The Atlanta Braves, and television shows for FOX, NBC, Mark Burnett, and many more.
 
Seven’s drive, entrepreneurial spirit and ability to understand the delicate art of branding, integration and advertising was what led him to conceptualize and develop the celebrity integration and social influencing platform Radio Connect/TwitYap which he sold to the Publicly traded entity Xhibit Corp (XBTC). Seven later became a consultant for Xhibit Corp and its wholly owned entities SkyMall and SkyMall Ventures, (a leader in the loyalty space).
 
Seven is a leader in the ever-changing media and digital space and he brings over a decade of executive experience from all facets of the entertainment industry as well as key relationships, with top tier, developers, celebrities, athletes, managers, agents, TV networks, producers and corporations that aid in his ability to help develop companies and brands.
 
In addition to Seven’s music and content development initiatives, he advises & consults 3rd party companies and individuals through his company AFDKAM on strategic business development opportunities and the leveraging of content, technology, brand integration, online product sales and social influence in new media.
 

 

-----------------------------------------------
If you are enjoying the Sports Entrepreneurs Podcast (SEP) series, check out our Virtual Sports Entrepreneurs University (SEU) too.

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. Check out for more details HERE
-----------------------------------------------
Follow us on our social sites for the latest updates
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Website: https://marcusluer.com

https://marcusluer.com
https://marcusluer.com/university
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