Get the cool kids on board, the rest will follow.
In 2013 an ESPN survey showed that soccer had become more popular with younger people than baseball in the USA. It’s been a slow but steady increase in popularity and in 1996 the MLS (Major League Soccer) was founded. A team known not only for its success on the field, but also for recognising its fans are the Seattle Sounders.
Its co-owner and General Manager is Adrian Hanauer (@BasedAdrianH), a sharp businessman with a huge passion for the game. He puts the success down to a number of factors coming together, and also making some really good business decisions along the way. Partnering with the NFL gave them an amazing boost to drive the team forward, and using digital communication methods they were able to reach out to a new group of fans.
In the past soccer had always been marketed towards kids, Adrian and his team understood that by targeting young professional sports fans, they could build an audience who were interested in being part of a cultural experience. They coupled this with exclusivity, closing sections of the stadium so that tickets always sold out. The strategy worked quickly, and after they had successfully established a fan base it begin to grow organically. Today the Seattle Sounders have one of the biggest and most active audiences in the country.
Invest in the youth; they are the future of our industry.
Rick Barraza (@RickBarraza) has had some interesting titles through his career, today it’s Senior Technical Evangelist at Microsoft. He took us through some of the insights he’d witnessed develop throughout his career in technology. An interesting comparison is that ‘Hollywood draws first blood, form follows fiction.’ Throughout the last 50 years the futuristic technologies that we’ve see in science-fiction films have inspired reality, and quite often accelerate the creation of these things. The multi-touch / motion tracking screens in Minority Report are great example. Spielberg had in envisioned them 50 years in the future; after the film was released it took just 10 years for them to become a reality.
We are now entering uncharted territory as the speed of technology has overtaken fiction. Rick sees the holographic messages in Star Wars as the benchmark, a technology people have dreamed of for over 30 years. Today we are on the cusp of making that it a reality, so what happens after that?
Rick is passionate that we as an industry should be investing in the designers, storytellers and creators of tomorrow because they will be the ones who are needed to influence the engineers and technologists. This marriage of creativity and technological advancement is an equal balance with each needing the other. Without the inspiration of fiction to guide technology, it is up to tomorrow’s creatives to shape and mould it.
When one door closes another often opens.
Richard Tait (@BoomBoomBrands) has been described as one of the Seattle area’s most accomplished entrepreneurs. The native Scotsman is on a mission to ‘have as many different lives within one human life as possible,’ he’s done a pretty good job so far.
Richard began his career in the late 90’s with his heart set on working for Apple, but without a green card they wouldn’t even give him an interview. Not long after, Microsoft came knocking on his door. At the time they had a mere 2,300 employees. He started 12 businesses during his time there and worked across some of its most influential products. After 10 years he felt that he had become ‘old school’ and decided to look for his next mission.
During a rainy trip away with friends he stumbled upon a thought that would change the board game industry. He was a master at Pictionary, but terrible at Scrabble. What if you created a game that combined the mechanics from some of the most popular board games in history to ‘let everyone shine’. Out of this insight Cranium was born, it went on to win countless awards and become not only one of the world’s most loved games, but also a company with an award winning corporate culture.
Since then, Richard has started an incredibly varied range of businesses, including his latest mission with Golazo – a natural energy drink based around football. Having no experience in a market has never stopped Richard, if he’s passionate about the project it will give him the drive to make it work.
When things aren’t working out keep your eyes open, there could well be an opportunity hidden within. It’s not the amount of times you get knocked down that counts; it’s the amount of times you get back up.