Interview With : Dr. Lance, One of the organizers of the Venture Draft conference
Updated on: 04 Dec 2013
Venture Draft (www.venturedraft.com) is a new conference about furthering the partnerships between sports and venture capital with an emphasis of how the athletes can participate in this partnership. In many ways it seems ideal. Venture capitalists are always looking for new innovations, new entrepreneurs, and large markets. More so than others, athletes have been trained how to compete, how to play to win, how to achieve goals, and how to build and manage effective teams. They understand performance under pressure. All of these issues are extremely important to venture capitalists. Plus, everyone loves sports. It's been around for thousands of years, and a thousand years from now, it'll still be a passion of the human race. It's a huge market that simply isn't going to disappear.
Here's an interview with Dr. Lance, one of the organizers of the Venture Draft conference.
Cynthia: Why did you start this conference? Why did you see the need and how does it benefit the attendees?
Dr. Lance: My research in the area of sports started a while back when I realized that only 10% of athletes get endorsement contracts. This leaves many athletes with a vast network to leverage for an economic impact. This type of plan would not only help the athlete, but the small business as well, thus assisting in the rebirth of our economy through jobs. In our country, we are losing in job growth and sports is a universal language that can help solve this problem. This is a very passionate market sector and leveraging it can benefit athletes, investors, tech firms and small businesses
Cynthia: Your conference talks about the business of sports, "many athletes and small businesses don't understand the business behind the business". Why do you think there is this misunderstanding? Could you share a few of the most common misconceptions?
Dr. Lance: From the venture capital and business side, there are enormous opportunities in the tech space with sports and we want to cover those aspects. From the athletes' side, they are taught to "play their position" not only in sports, but in any business. However, an employee contributes more to a business when they understand the totality of it. There are many opportunities in the business side of sports that the players don't know about. We want to inform players of these opportunities such vending, construction, financing, etc.
Cynthia: One of the topics is "how to approach an athlete for investment". Why this topic?
Dr. Lance: Athletes get presented all types of projects from their friends and relatives. Often times these projects don't have merit and are high risk. Many this times turns the athlete off. We want to showcase how you approach an athlete and an investor to educate the masses on this field. In addition, we want more athletes as partners in tech firms and small businesses, thus this session helps the athlete,
Cynthia: The "For Athletes Only" session seems to focus on the athlete as "You Inc" and even life after being an athlete. Can you tell me why you selected these topics? Are there any statistics on what athlete do after sports?
Dr. Lance: There is so much an athlete can do with the right playbook. Athletes are disciplined and hard workers. Thus, I wanted to start with the psychology of sports particularly when a player gets injured and or retires. If there isn't a plan, the athlete loses an asset that could help them and the economy. The topics give a blueprint in investments, career, education, technology, real estate, finance and others.
Cynthia: Is this conference targeted at NFL or NBA players? What about other sports such as swimming, skiing, water polo, or other sports?
Dr. Lance: The conference is targeted at all sports, yet we have an emphasis on NFL and NBA due to Brandon playing in the NFL. Our goal is to be the business platform for athletes, similar to the Linkedin of sports.
So here's an opportunity for some entrepreneurs. As the parent of an aspiring elite athlete, what I think is needed is to bring the professional techniques and methods down to the aspiring athlete level. Why? Because there are far more amateur athletes, fitness junkies, and young aspiring elite athletes than there are pros. The training costs for a single elite athlete are very high, but collectively, the amateurs spend more. The owner of my local gymnastics training center told me that his big break was when they added recreational programs. While the center has been the place for the serious competitive athlete for years, now the revenue from training elitists has been eclipsed by that from the non-elite athletes. It's the equivalent of moving from main frames to personal computers ? take a very useful technology whose access is limited by its costs and requires specialized personnel, and make it available to the masses. Just a thought for those tech minded entrepreneurs with a passion for sports.