Entrepreneurship and Social Media in Sports, Entertainment and Media

“The reason Michael Dell is worth $40 billion is there are 40 billion other people who wanted to do what he did and couldn’t do it.”

SEMA Conference 001

Today I’ll be blogging from the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center on the campus of The University of Texas at Austin, from the Sports, Entertainment and Media Business Conference organized by SEMA, an organization that helps graduate students at UT explore career options in sports, entertainment, and arts management. From their website:

The goal of the inaugural 2009 Sports, Entertainment, & Media Business Conference is to provide a platform to discuss key issues such as Social Media, Freeware, Pricing and Entrepreneurship and gauge their impact on Sports, Entertainment, & Media. The conference will bring together industry professionals and students interested in changing the dynamics of these industries. This will provide SEMA members and outside participants the opportunity to challenge one another and learn from the discussions and networking within the event.

About my notes today. Some of the panelists have asked for the freedom to speak freely without the risk of being quoted. To respect that wish I will not be identifying who says what during the panel discussions, but will cover key concepts.

This posting includes the panels on Entrepreneurship and Social Media. I’ve split off the other panels to these postings:

Entrepreneurship: a discussion of what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur in the world of sports and entertainment. The panel will focus on opportunity identification, market validation, and following your passion.

Panelists are:

red_mccombsRed McCombs, former owner of the NFL Minnesota Vikings, the NBA Denver Nuggets and the San Antonio Spurs, which he secured for San Antonio in 1973. At age 25, he purchased his first professional sports team, The Corpus Christi Texas Clippers in the Big State Baseball League. McCombs attended Southwestern University and the University of Texas at Austin School of Business and School of Law. He began his career as a salesman in the automobile business in Corpus Christi in 1950. In 1958 he moved to San Antonio and led Red McCombs Automotive to the sixth largest dealer group in the United States. Mr. McCombs has been in the energy business since the early 1960’s and moved that business to Houston in 1965. McCombs Energy continues to grow and operates throughout the West and Southwest. Mr. McCombs has always been active in real estate development and sales, including numerous joint ventures, the largest of which is the Koontz-McCombs development company.

bart_knaggsBart Knaggs of Capital Sports & Entertainment. Knaggs  joined then Capital Sports Ventures in 2001 to expand the company into new markets and new businesses. Under Bart’s leadership, the company acquired an event production company, creative services firm, and music management company, culminating in rebranding the company Capital Sports & Entertainment. CSE then went on to manage the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team, launch the Austin City Limits Music Festival and acquire and re-introduce Lollapalooza as a destination music festival in Chicago. During this time, CSE’s client Lance Armstrong went on to win a record 7 Tours de France, and each music festival was named Festival of the Year by Pollstar. Knaggs is a graduate of the business school at UT Austin.

randy_cohenRandy Cohen founded TicketCity in 1990. He is one of the most well known and successful entrepreneurs in the secondary ticket market as he continues to work to expand TicketCity’s market share. Randy focuses on acquisitions and putting together large ticket deals, and is the Chief Energizer for the company. Randy graduated from the Business School at the University of Texas.

greg_morrowGreg Morrow founded Sportnet with the vision of bringing together a next generation media experience that converges the strengths of Web 2.0 social media technologies with traditional media discipline and production values to build the ultimate destination for action sports consumers. The company has raised over $10 million dollars from venture investors to pursue this vision. The company originally launched as, Purevideo Networks has launched several industry leading destination and was recognized as onHollywood Hot100 companies.

gary_hooverModerator is Gary Hoover, who began his entrepreneurial journey at an early age. His question about enterprises was, “What separates the losers from the winners?” He began subscribing to Fortune Magazine at the age of 12, and has acquired most of the issues back to 1930. Hoover studied economics at the University of Chicago under Milton Friedman and two other Nobel Prize winners, served as a securities analyst for Citibank on Wall Street, worked as a buyer for Federated Department Stores, and headed up acquisitions and strategic planning for the May Department Stores Company. At the age of 30, after he finally took the plunge and created pioneering book superstore BOOKSTOP, which helped change the nature of book shopping in America. This company was sold to Barnes & Noble for $41.5 million cash when it was 7 years old, and became a cornerstone for their industry-dominating superstore chain.

Entrepreneurship Discussion Notes:

SEMA Conference 003Discussion began with what to say to someone who wants to start a business, and went from there:

  • Adaptability. You’ve got to be willing to jump in, try things, change your model. Sometimes the most obvious way to succeed isn’t the right one. The next key is optimism. There is always a way to build a business and win.
  • Pick what you like to do. Roy Spence wrote a book on It’s Not What You Sell, It’s What You Stand For. Do something that lets you make a difference. I have lots of experiences losing, but you’ve got to try. And do it on your own dime. Finally, surround yourself with great people.
  • Part of it is your mindset on risk. I was always afraid of being bored. I wasn’t afraid of not making money, or not paying the rent. You put yourself in a position where you can take risk. I like to go in early before everyone has jumped in. You should go for a first down on a fourth down every time, but coaches don’t do it because of the all the pressures on them. You must have vision and see around the corner. Some can do that repeatedly while others can only do it once or twice. Finally, get good help, and make sure you pick the right people. Get help from people who can understand what you do. One last point. As an entrepreneur you better love to sell. If you aren’t motivated to sell then don’t try to start a business.
  • It’s okay to take a job somewhere else and learn on their dime, then go start your business.
  • BootstrapAustin.org is one of the most powerful entrepreneur organizations in the country.
  • Using the website Elance.com you can freelance just about anything that you need done.
  • Passion, passion, passion. How much passion do you have for 20-hour days? The second thing is cash flow. I personally have no fear of failure, not at all. I don’t like it, but I don’t fear it. God gives us all 24 hours a day. The question is, what are you going to do with it?
  • I’m in this to win, and I promise if you are doing the same thing as me across the street I’ll beat you at it. So if you and I get into the same business someday and you’re across the street I’ll beat you. But you’ll still like me, I’ll be nice about it. I’ve never had all my eggs in one basket. My thrill is the game, and I’ve got to have several plays going on, and if one goes down I’ve got something that didn’t go down. I’ve always had something to work with. Right now, we don’t have anything that is doing well. It is a different world out there right now.
  • Risk is real. The reason Michael Dell is worth $40 billion is there are 40 billion other people who wanted to do what he did and couldn’t do it.
  • It’s about passion, the passion to sell yourself, your ideas and your products. Being curious, being interested in people, and being obsessed with customers.

Social Media: the act of using social networks, online communities, blogs, wikis or any other collaborative Internet for marketing in sports, entertainment and media.

Panelists are:

adam_minerAdam Miner is the Director of Finance and Accounting at Sportnet, a portfolio of online community and media destinations for action sport enthusiasts. Adam has served as the Director of Finance since August 2008, originally under the ownership of Wasserman Media Group and subsequently through a merger with GrindTV. In his role, Adam oversees all financial and accounting matters associated with the company’s operating, investing and financing activities.

jim_lutzJim Lutz is President and COO of Pro Player Connect, a digital technology and services provider that empowers athletes – active and retired – to develop, grow and monetize their individual brands. Pro Player Connect recently received the support of the NFL Players Association and NFL PLAYERS in recognition for its value and service to the professional sports community.

nicole_blumNicole Blum is a freelance producer who just started her own production company, Hashi Productions, LLC. She is currently developing several projects with her producing partner and recently worked on an unreleased project for 19 Entertainment. Prior to producing, Nicole spent her career in production finance.

tommy_landryTommy Landry has nearly 20 years of experience in a wide range of marketing disciplines, most recently focused intently on leveraging social media (networking, bookmarking, etc.) for B2B and B2C activities. In early 2008, Mr. Landry was one of six co-founders of RotoExperts.com, the fastest growing fantasy sports site in the industry, and he has served roles as Executive Editor, Senior Writer, Executive Advisor, and Social Media Director while with the site. Landry also runs Product Marketing for the Monitoring Optimization product line with Anue Systems, a role that has a heavy bent toward blogging and marketing on Twitter, LinkedIn, and other related services. Landry holds a Master of Business Administration in Marketing and Information Management from the University of Texas McCombs School of Business and a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communication and Classical Civilization from Louisiana State University.

craig_vaughanCraig Vaughan is a Senior Executive at Creative Artists Agency (CAA), based in Los Angeles, with offices in Nashville, New York City, London, and Beijing. Craig works in the Business Development/Digital division in the Los Angeles office representing corporate clients, incubating new businesses and extending the reach of CAA’s clients to the mobile platform. Vaughan graduated with a B.A. in Finance from the University of Texas at Austin and earned an MBA in Finance from the University of Michigan’s Ross Business School.

michael_fefermanModerator is Michael Feferman, the Digital Director at C3 Presents, an Austin-based company that produces Lollapalooza and the Austin City Limits Festival. C3 annually promotes and markets 1,000+ shows around the country and manages a diverse roster of bands including Thievery Corporation, Blues Traveler, and Robert Earl Keen. Michael oversees C3’s digital marketing strategy, which includes responsibility for all digital programs, campaigns, partnerships, and technology implementation.

Social Media Discussion Notes:

What is social media?

  • Increased access, increased communication in a 2-way mode. Allows instant feedback.
  • Forget about the tools and think about the concept. Forget about Facebook or Twitter, and focus on the collaboration.
  • It allows everybody to be heard. An interactive conversation and building a community.
  • Email is the original social media, but social media brings it more into the public view. Makes it more powerful, and in some sense more dangerous. Markets are conversations.
  • It is advertising that engages consumers and gives them some part in what is happening.

How do you use social media to improve the bottom line?

  • We have a Twitter page, a Web site, etc. We are new to it and are just building it out. We have the TV shows themselves Twittering.
  • It’s a way to gain high levels of exposure with minimum cost. You can gain access to people and begin to engage with them. You are also going to learn about your consumer.
  • We are using online to drive exposure of TV programs.
  • You have to understand how many consumers are out there, and what are the communities about. What are they looking for? You have to direct that traffic somewhere, and begin to  engage them in a conversation and relationship with consumers. Over time they will willfully give you information about themselves. If you have the ability to do that, and analyze the data, and then “action it” fast, then there is tremendous power in that. If companies don’t know what to do with the data, then it is useless. There are so many ways to pull this information in, but how effectively can you monetize it? You don’t want to come across as an advertiser, then you lose everything you’ve tried to gain.

How does it impact your marketing strategy?

  • Commercials are no longer the thing people watch. There has to be a different perspective. Commercials are just one part of a mix.
  • The tricky thing about involving people in social media is that you have people who want to engage, and then you have the people who are willing to pay for the content.
  • We must ask, what does the consumer want, when, in what form, and how can we serve that desire.
  • There are so many different channels in social media. Should brands be in all of these channels?
  • You need to have a central place for people to hook up, and you use all of the different channels to pull people in to the central place.
  • Company blogging becomes so much more important, because that is the point you bring everyone to. Find the people where they are and then go bring them in.

What is the next social media platform?

  • We’re actually going to end with that question. (Laughter.)
  • Google Wave has not caught on yet like we thought it would.
  • The developments are happening with such speed that it is hard to keep up.
  • One technique I use is Google alerts to follow topics that are important to me.
  • I don’t see a game changer yet that is better than Twitter. I don’t think the next one is out there yet.
  • I don’t know if there is a next one. I think the social aspect of the Web will just be a given, rather than finding some big new platform.
  • Social media will break down into smaller segments based on what people want to do. More segmentation, and then the brands can begin splitting out, and the brand-to-person relationship will seem more natural.
  • It is all about critical mass. How many people are on there?

How is it changing how consumers are spending?

  • It is about micro targeting again. You will bring your favorite store right to your space and conduct transactions right there, rather than having to leave and go to a different site.
  • You will be able to just buy the page of the book that you want. That would be great for the university environment.

Is there a digital divide between athletes on a team and those who are more individual agents?

  • Different leagues behave differently. It is important to be sensitive to those and present athletes in a positive light. Like in any business, when you are paid by someone you are held accountable for what you do. Sometimes it is just normal maturity and common sense. Sponsors don’t want to touch the really controversial players. Do what you will, but there are repercussions just like anything else.

How can a team, or a band, or any group, speak with one voice in social media?

  • I think that is an old way to think about it. People want to talk to individuals, and have their name on it. The message no longer just comes from the company, and they don’t control it. You can exert influence, but you don’t control it.
  • You can have a very strong identity, and a clear brand voice, but you cannot put on a facade or it will be exposed.

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