Warsaw Sports Marketing Center

Warsaw is Family: Reflecting on the 2017 National Sports Forum Case Cup

In early December, I was presented with the opportunity to be part of a team that would represent the University of Oregon and the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the NSF Case Cup Competition. Knowing the magnitude of the National Sports Forum, the challenging format of the competition, and the stiff competition we would face, I hesitantly accepted the offer to fly into the middle of a Minnesotan winter.

The NSF Case Cup is a Masters level case-style competition held each year at the National Sports Forum. The competition is an opportunity for Masters students to compete in a multidisciplinary sports business case study in which teams are given 24 hours to tackle a challenging, real-world sports business problem that simulates the challenges we will face as we begin our professional careers.

This year, Luke Nofsinger, Danielle Barbian, Kelly O’Shaughnessy and myself were tasked with strategically utilizing Major League Soccer’s recent partnership with SeatGeek to boost revenue at Sporting Kansas City, one of the most successful clubs in the MLS. With just 24 hours to understand the case, complete research, brainstorm solutions and produce a 20-minute presentation, the competition was a fast-paced blur that consisted of only three hours of sleep and far too much coffee and junk food. As challenging and exhausting as the competition was, it was all made worth it when we were fortunate enough to be awarded first place, bringing the trophy back to Eugene for the second time.

The victory was definitely a proud moment for our team. We were not only excited to be recognized for our efforts but also proud to have been able to showcase the strength of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center and the Oregon MBA on a national stage. Heading to Minneapolis, we felt that the academic and experiential learning opportunities provided to us over the last 1.5 years positioned us to be successful at the Case Cup. The extensive exposure to industry and the seemingly endless amount of group work and presentations that we have tackled through our coursework meant we were unfazed by the format of the competition and were able to approach the problem collaboratively and strategically. I can confidently say that our success at the National Sports Forum came from not only the combined talents and experiences of our team, but also from the experiences within the Oregon MBA that have helped us grow and develop into the young professionals we are today.

Perhaps the biggest thing that stuck with me upon leaving Minnesota though had little to do with the Case Cup itself. The support and camaraderie that existed within the alumni of the Warsaw program made a big impact on me. We were lucky enough to be joined by a handful of Warsaw alum at the conference and from the moment we arrived the team felt part of a larger family. This Warsaw community exists across the country and to me has been one of the biggest factors in my enjoyment and success in this program.

The NSF Case Cup Competition was definitely a valuable learning experience for me and my teammates but I think the real value of my time in Minneapolis were the connections I made with industry professionals, alumni and other students. It is one of many experiences that have been afforded me through the Oregon MBA that continue to reaffirm my decision to cross the Pacific Ocean and join the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. With just over three months until I graduate from this program and all the uncertainty that comes with the job search process, it’s comforting to know that wherever I end up, I will always be a part of the Warsaw Center and Oregon MBA families.

 

Written by Nick Hudson

Nick is a 2nd year MBA student in the University of Oregon's Warsaw Sport Marketing Center. Born in Australia, Nick has worked in events and sponsorship with Tennis Australia, Wasserman and the Prefontaine Classic and previously in a management consulting capacity with Deloitte. Upon graduation in June 2017, Nick hopes to return to the world of sports sponsorship and marketing with an agency or sports property.

“You’re getting an MBA to work in…Video Games?”

My mother has been a patient and understanding woman when it comes to me, her oldest of three sons. When it took me nearly seven years to finish my undergraduate degree, she gave me nothing but unconditional love and support. Two years later, when I told her I was going to law school, she was my biggest cheerleader. When I moved across the country to work for the United States Senate, she gave me a big hug and told me to go make a difference. But when I told her last spring that I was leaving the practice of law to pursue my MBA in Sports Business at the University of Oregon and that I wanted to work in eSports, or professional video game competitions, I think even she will admit that her resolve started to waiver.

Was this some sort of early 30’s crisis? Maybe some form of pathological avoidance? Or is it simply the next step in a vast conspiracy to deprive her of grandchildren? The answer, as it turns out, was much simpler. I have had two life-long passions: sports and video games. And with the meteoric rise in popularity and viability of eSports, for the first time I had finally found an industry that could blend those passions and give me a career I could not only excel at, but also be truly enthusiastic about. But did I really need an MBA from Oregon to work in this?

In a word, yes. Today, eSports boasts a community of over 250 million viewers and hosts tournaments that now regularly offer prize pools in the high-seven or even eight figures. Championship matches draw viewership numbers that exceed the Stanley Cup Final. Mainstream brands such as T-Mobile, Coke, Arby’s, Geico, Buffalo Wild Wings, Red Bull and others are major sponsors of multiple events and broadcasts. Even traditional professional sports teams have taken notice, with the Philadelphia 76ers, Miami Heat, and Orlando Magic having already invested in eSports teams, and others such as the Dallas Cowboys actively interested in entering the space.

eSports is going mainstream, and those teams, developers, and sponsors are going to begin expecting expertise in not only gaming, but also in business.  Knowing the difference between an AP Carry and a Jungler is well and good, but knowing the difference between endemic and non-endemic brands and how to create value for both in an emerging market is how you’re really going to impress and get noticed in the gaming world these days. As I’ve learned, studying Sports Marketing under a Vice President of Club Services for Major League Soccer is much more likely to get you noticed by Riot or Blizzard than a Diamond or Master level player ranking.

When I told Warsaw Program Manager Craig Leon during my MBA interview that I wanted to work in eSports, he smiled and told me, “You know, if you had come here even two years ago, I probably would have told you we weren’t the place for you; but now? Let’s do it.” I didn’t know it at the time, but those words would profoundly change my life, almost universally for the better.

My mom still doesn’t quite understand what I’m trying to do in my career; despite having three gamer sons, she never got past Frogger. But she knows that her boy is happier, healthier, and more enthusiastic about this path he’s on at the Oregon MBA than she’s heard him in a long time. And, at the end of the day, that is all a mother can ask for…well, that and maybe grandchildren.

Written by Justin Surber

Justin is a 2018 MBA in the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center focused on eSports. His background is primarily in law and politics, where he worked as an attorney and interned in the United States Senate prior to giving in to his love of sports and video games. Before coming to Oregon, Justin graduated from Linfield College with a degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences, and received his Juris Doctorate with Honors from Willamette University College of Law. Outside of school, Justin enjoys tennis, reading, trying a new craft brewery, and all the joys and pitfalls of being a dog parent.

Warsaw MBA Students and Oregon SPM Students Connect Over Shared History

Warsaw Sports Marketing first year MBA students, together with the incoming Sports Product Management (SPM) students from the U of O’s Portland campus had the privilege of visiting some powerful pieces of Eugene history in September 2016.

When an email came through to my inbox inviting Warsaw students to join a private tour of “Nike/Eugene” heritage, I was immediately intrigued and RSVP’d. On the morning of the tour, we all met outside Bowerman’s Lab where we were greeted by Steve Bence from Nike.  Bowerman’s Lab is a hidden gem in Eugene; it was a space Bill Bowerman created to work on the design and construction of some of the very first Nike shoes. The rooms in Bowerman’s Lab were quite small, so before we all split into smaller groups for the tour, we congregated outside to hear the story behind the lab. Bence shared details about the history of the lab. The location was all part of Bowerman’s plan, and his location choice helped lead him to some of his greatest innovations. We then heard from Ellen Schmidt-Devlin, the Director of the UO SPM program, who recounted her experiences as a runner on the University of Oregon track team during Bowerman’s launch of Nike. She was one of the women who got to trial shoes while they were in development and played a key role in the evolution of their design. It was exciting to hear her account of Bowerman’s design inspiration and then to take a step back in time and see it all come to life as we toured the lab.

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After our tour of Bowerman’s Lab, we drove across town to visit Pre’s Rock. Up windy roads and tucked into a neighborhood we found a memorial for the late Steve Prefontaine. I had first heard about Pre when I was a runner on my high school’s track and cross country teams. My coach, Rey Garza, was one of many who were inspired by and believed in Pre’s legacy – so much that he’d named his son Steve, after him. Often at practice Coach Rey would tell us the stories he’d heard of Pre’s running career, so visiting Pre’s Rock for the first time was an exciting and sobering moment for me. Many runners and Pre fans travel thousands of miles to come dedicate their running memorabilia in Pre’s name. We saw t-shirts, sweat bands, race bibs, finisher medals, beads and cheer poms all decorating the memorial. Bence, who was good friends with Pre and ran with him during his college years, shared with us some of his favorite personal memories.  It has been decades since Pre’s passing, so it is truly remarkable to see the impact he still has on the entire running community.

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Our third stop on the tour was on the University of Oregon campus – Hayward Field. Hayward Field holds a special place in the hearts of runners across the globe, whether they’ve actually visited the track or not.  There is no other track in the United States that is as well-known and rich in history as Hayward Field. Some of the best athletes in the world have competed on the field, and some of the fastest runners in the world have toed the line on the track. It’s home to many of the most prestigious international meets, including the annual Prefontaine Classic. It’s the kind of place that gives you goosebumps. I’ve already ran past the field a few times since I moved to Eugene – just for the extra inspiration.

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Our next stop for the day was at the state-of-the-art John E. Jaqua Academic Center for Student Athletes. We all filed into the auditorium and found our seats in bright yellow theater-style chairs. We heard a speech from Whitney Wagoner, Director of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, and she shared some of the goals and the history of the Warsaw program.  Schmidt-Devlin spoke next about the Sports Product Management program and welcomed the second class of SPM students. They each talked about the significance of the two programs in the sports community, and future plans for more collaboration between both programs. Last, but not least, David Higdon, NASCAR’s VP of Integrated Marketing Communications and the Chair of the Warsaw Center Advisory Board, got us pumped for the tailgate and the game we attended that afternoon.

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Inspired and energized by the morning’s activities and speakers, we all flocked over to the Ducks football game for some food and networking at the joint Warsaw-SPM tailgate.

These once-in-a-lifetime opportunities are what differentiates the University of Oregon’s sports programs and what ultimately sold me on choosing to pursue my MBA here. I know this day will be one of the highlights of my University of Oregon MBA career.

Written by Amber Santos

Santos is a Class of 2018 Oregon MBA student with a passion for marketing, running and the outdoors. Before moving to Eugene for the MBA program, Santos grew up in California and earned her undergraduate B.S. in Business Administration; marketing, with a minor in fashion merchandising from California State University, Long Beach. She spent her time between degrees working in the advertising world in Los Angeles. As an Oregon MBA within the Warsaw Sports Marketing cohort, Santos plans to further develop her skillset and pursue a career in sports apparel marketing upon graduation.

1st Year Oregon MBA's

Oregon does it different.

I never really expected to be a student again. When I walked across the stage at my college graduation in 2008, I was pretty sure it was the last time I would ever do that. With my shiny new degree firmly in hand, I transitioned seamlessly into my 9-to-(often-way-past)-5 job at an advertising agency in Chicago. I had the opportunity to work with passionate, smart, ambitious people who all loved what they did. Turns out, I was good at my job and I was rewarded for it. But after 7 years of marketing consumer-packaged goods, I found myself in a rut. I wasn’t inspired by the work I was doing, and the grind of agency life was starting to get to me. I was looking for something else, but I didn’t know what.

My introduction to the OMBA happened by chance. A visit to family friends in Phoenix one week in March 2015 turned into a meeting with a woman who was, at the time, about to graduate from the program. She spoke passionately about her time in Eugene, her experience with her cohort, and about the unique opportunity that the Warsaw Center offered her.  Something clicked into place for me that night. The realization that I could combine my passion for sports and my belief in the power of being a fan, with a strong business education and roll that all into a career that I could get excited about. How could I not jump at that opportunity?

But as any good strategist does, I approached my application process from multiple angles, exploring programs that offered similar-but-not-quite-the-same options to what we do here. I kept coming back to Oregon. “There’s something different about the MBA at Oregon,” my alumni friend said that night in March. She was right, and it was clear from the very beginning of the application process. The family-like attitude, the welcoming communication, the strong desire to really get to know me – the Oregon MBA just felt different than every other program I applied to. If I was going to leave my job and my life to dive head first into a full time program, I had to be damn sure I was moving forward. And my first visit to Eugene, my first day on campus, felt like stepping into a whole new world of possibility.

So here I am, eight years after that first graduation, settling back into the familiar role of student. I’m three weeks in, and I have to say – an MBA is a whole new level of “student-ing”. Our 52-person cohort (the largest the program has accepted to date) spent two full weeks in MBA GO! Eight whole days of teaming, talking, sharing, learning and building each other up. Every business school will introduce its new class to the case study method, teach them how to navigate the university’s calendar and remind everyone to utilize career services ASAP. But again, the OMBA proved that we do things differently. Sure we did all those expected things during orientation, but there was also a clear focus from the beginning on establishing communication and teamwork skills – skills industry leaders say they need more of from MBA graduates. There were whole sessions dedicated to self-care, to building trust among our teams, and to helping us identify strengths and build confidence in one another. At the end of it, I came out ready to tackle the challenge ahead of me in the next two years. But I also came out feeling like I have 52 new best friends that I can rely on to pick me up when I stumble, which I inevitably will. I have 52 new teammates that I want to see succeed as much as I want to succeed myself. And that’s the biggest part of the Oregon difference that I’ve seen so far.

We’re committed to excellence here, but to achieve excellence, we must all be the best version of ourselves. And that’s really why I’m here. Orientation started us down that path, and for me it crystalized what I was looking for all along – new challenges to push me into a better version of myself. And a team around me striving for the same thing.

Written by Laura Condella

Laura is a 2018 MBA with the Warsaw Center for Sports Marketing. She's a creative problem solver with over 8 years of experience helping a variety of brands from packaged goods to sports & entertainment organizations build their business through authentic connections with shoppers & fans. She's passionate about the power of sports in community building and the impact being a fan. Hockey fan, baseball lover, Chicago native.

One Small Patch of Fabric – A Lot of Weight

 

Sponsorship is a huge part of the sports business world and a significant portion of most professional franchises’ revenues. Outside the United States, it is commonplace to have the team’s sponsors’ branding on all team apparel, especially game jerseys. For many years, however, US sports have resisted this trend (and resulting revenue) by banning on-jersey sponsorships. This month the NBA approved a three-year pilot program to begin in the 2017-18 season allowing on-jersey advertisements. Long a subject of debate in and around the league, the program was approved 28-2 by the NBA team owners. The 2.5-inch-by-2.5-inch patch will appear on the left shoulder of the player’s jersey opposite the Nike swoosh. The 2017-18 season will also bring the beginning of Nike’s exclusive apparel deal with the NBA, an eight-year deal with an estimated value of over $1B. The NBA logo will remain on the back of the jersey where it was moved two years ago.

Seattle Sounders Jersey featuring sponsorship of Microsoft’s XBOX product

In 2006, Major League Soccer became the first American professional league to allow its teams to sell ad space on-jersey. Shortly thereafter, the WNBA followed suit, also allowing the on-jersey ads. Signs that the four major sports leagues might allow on-jersey ads have been apparent for years: the NFL allowed practice jerseys to be sponsored in 2009 and the NBA put the Kia brand patch, the official automotive partner of the NBA, on the 2016 All-Star Game jerseys. Nonetheless, it remained unclear whether the owners would approve the on-jersey ads for regular season games.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver

Sponsorship is not only a revenue source for teams, but also allows brands to build a deep connection with “their” team. Brands sponsoring a team seek to build an association with the fans between its brand and the team. “Jersey sponsorships provide deeper engagement with partners looking to build a unique association with our teams and the additional investment will help grow the game in exciting ways,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. Silver cites the changing media landscape and the fact that “people are watching far less commercials” as the reason why companies need additional opportunities to connect with their consumers. Commissioner Silver projects the pilot program will generate over $100 million for the League. To make the deal more attractive to the League owners in smaller markets, half of the revenue generated from this ad space for each team will be put in the revenue-sharing pool and half will be kept by the team.
However, the reaction has not all been positive as many people are resistant to the break from tradition and the further “commercializing” of American sports. As a compromise, the NBA will not allow merchandise with the new corporate logos to be sold except in official team stores at the team’s discretion. This was also the reason for the relatively small, and some hope inconspicuous, patch.
While most would say I am a traditionalist, as an MBA focusing in sports marketing with a particular interest in sponsorship, I believe the League should have the ability to exercise this option if they so choose. The NBA is a business after all.

Written by Robert Cella

As I transition into sports business industry, I am a current MBA candidate at the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. I am energized and passionate as I make this career change into sponsorships and corporate partnerships. With experience in small business operations, financial advising and international business, I am well-positioned to succeed in this area upon graduation in 2017.

Blogging as a Career Development Tool

Last Friday, the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center hosted a “blog party” for undergraduate club members and MBA students interested in contributing to warsaw.sportsblog.com. There’s only so much of a “party” you can bring to the blogging world, but it was a really cool event, and I was glad I was able to help out somewhat. And I wanted to share the message that I gave to the folks in attendance the other day.

Whitney Wagoner, the center director, started the event with some wisdom as to the blog’s role in the long-term strategy of Warsaw. It can help with thought leadership and helping to establish the strengths of the program. And the three new blog editors — first-year MBAs Rob Cella, Nick Hudson, and Lauren Sokol — explained how to get started with the SportsBlog platform and some types of articles that individuals could contribute.

My role in the event: Give a little bit of inspiration for blogging and help with our goal to “demystify” the blogging process. Last year, I helped with Jeff Angus and Kurian Manavalan to edit the site. This year, I’m taking more of a backseat role as just a contributor because of my responsibilities as a Career Services graduate teaching fellow. But with my long history of blogging — I estimated I’ve contributed 2,000 posts to Flyer News, my WordPress site, my Tumblr site, WaitingForNextYear.comNylonCalculus.com, etc. — I had some additional perspective on the values of blogging.

Previously, I urged all young sports business professionals to blog. But within the context of the short talk I gave on Friday, here are my top three reasons why everyone should blog:

1) You’ll improve as a writer. When I was a freshman in high school, my history teacher said I was one of the worst writers in the class. That’s a very true story. And it really burned inside me. I was determined to just write and write and write in an effort to get better. And it’s certainly helped over the years with my communication skills in anything I’ve done. Many over the years have suggested that writing everyday about something, anything, can be a great way to practice.

In any job you’ll have in the future, you’ll need to have the ability to make a convincing argument to your colleagues and to your bosses. Effective communication skills are essential and a difference maker in today’s age of Internet slang, emojis and constant connectivity. If you can prove that you’re an experienced writer and communicator, you’ll have a leg up on any competitor during an interview process.

2) You’ll improve as a critical thinker. Typically, introverts desire time to sit back and reflect on their experiences. Extroverts seek interactivity and want to get things off their chest immediately. For either type of person, the process of writing about your feelings and working through the sentences can be a very powerful internal tool.

In terms of professional development, this can take the form of writing more frequently about the things you’re passionate about. For business majors, whether you want to work in social media, finance, accounting, marketing, entrepreneurship, or anything, you can’t merely just be a passive fan of that subject. You should practice your pitch at rationalizing why you want to work in that industry and what intrigues you about it.

3) You’ll have more self-confidence. For me, blogging has been instrumental in my career. A February blog post that I wrote about what I wanted to do in the sports business industry made its way into the hands of the Charlotte Hornets business office. A few weeks later, they emailed me about an internship opportunity and invited me to apply. I ended up accepting the offer and had a blast in Charlotte this past summer.

Blogging is a tremendous personal branding tool. It’s a great way to get your name out there and improve your digital footprint. Recently, the Warsaw Center brought in Dr. Marc Williams as a guest speaker. His main line was “It’s not about who you know, but who knows you.” Blogging will enable you to tell your story and your passions more effectively, so that others will be able to serve as your career advocates.

To summarize, anyone can blog. You’re only going to improve as a writer and a thinker if you commit to writing (and reading) every single day. Learn about what you enjoy from other writers and see how you can incorporate that into your work. Link generously back to other blog posts or articles that you enjoyed. And if you’re kind to others with your blogging activity, then you’ll have created a brand new platform for advancing your career into the future.

Written by Jacob Rosen

Jacob Rosen is a second-year MBA student in the University of Oregon's Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. His goal is to work in business or sponsorship analytics for a professional sports team. Jacob interned in business analytics for the NBA's Charlotte Hornets this past summer. He can be followed on Twitter @WFNYJacob.

Winning the Day @ Global Venture Labs in Austin, TX

The following was announced and written by Nathan Lillegard, Center Director for the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship on May 9, 2015:

I am pleased to share news about a successful campaign by our students from the Oregon MBA and Oregon Law School at the Global Venture Labs Investment Competition (formerly MOOT Corp) this past weekend at the University of Texas at Austin.

For the first time ever the University of Oregon placed 2 teams in the semifinal round. To put that in perspective, there were 33 teams that started the competition on Thursday, with 10 advancing to the semis. That’s 20% of the top 30% representing the UO – not bad! This is the best showing for our program at this competition in many years. I couldn’t be more proud of their efforts.

Our teams:

Airfit – Second year MBAs Cynthia Sandall and Ty Manegold have brought a concept to life. The idea, fitness facilities in airports behind TSA, is simple. The execution of the concept and the actual market launch of the concept is quite complicated. I applaud their tenacity of research and the way they’ve leveraged every possible LCB class project to gather amazing customer research and build a great plan. You will see the first location in SFO within a year and JFK shortly thereafter. They’ve made this real and are launching. Bravo!

Cricket Flours – Charles Wilson (2015 JD) and Omar Ellis (2015 MBA), with help early on from Paul Butler (JD/MBA) successfully pitched their cricket based protein powder business to the judges in a way that focused on their deep understanding of customers, the business model, and their markets while far overcoming anyone’s “You want me to eat what?” objections. Their best customer validation? How about a half dozen or so orders from judges and other competitors over the past 2 days? They have a rapidly growing business that will be a great success story.

I thank the many staff and faculty members who have helped our teams develop into poised and confident entrepreneurs. Specifically, I want to thank Allan Cochrane, my co-instructor for MGMT 625 and the Venture Startup courses. Al has logged many miles and hours helping prepare ‘investor ready’ teams. Additional thanks goes to Michael Crooke and John Hull who have given these teams countless tips and spent a good deal of time coaching them individually and as teams. I should also recognize the contributions of Randy Swangard, who was in attendance as the head of the GVLIC rules committee and without whom the program to do all of this wouldn’t exist. Every faculty member who has taught any class to these fine students should give themselves a pat on the back, as the overall education of our students is outstanding and it shows when we’re up against some of the brightest minds in the world and come out successful.

Although their journey ended in the semi-finals (the competition is tough and only 4 of 10 teams advanced) I am 100% confident that we’ll soon have two more inspiring stories of Oregon MBA led student startups. Success at these competitions shows the depth of research they’ve done and their commitment to making their ideas real. At the end of the day, that’s why we (faculty and staff) do what we do – to inspire students to be the best they can be and reach higher than they might think they can. That is Winning the Day, that is what we do.

Written by Jenny Palm

Jenny a current Oregon MBA and Graduate Teaching Fellow in the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship. When she is not busy exploring how she can change the world, you can find her outside doing almost anything...especially finding that secret stash of powder on her skis! She has hopes to either help develop an awesome outdoor-oriented start-up or flex her organizational prowess in ski resort event operations.

The Inaugural Warsaw Workshop

I was excited to be part of the first Warsaw Workshop. It was fun to participate in an event that my fellow Warsaw MBA classmates helped put together and run. I was impressed with their professionalism and how smoothly everything ran. The theme “technology in sport” was very useful and informative, especially since I am still in the beginning stages of leveraging my own social media outlets for career purposes. The workshop covered using technology and social media for bigger brands, as well as ways to leverage your own personal media image to propel and sell yourself.

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The Warsaw Workshop’s Organizing Committee

They mentioned selling yourself and YOUR brand. We should all be thinking about what we stand for, who we are, and  making sure we are being compassionate and genuine. It is also vital that our personal “brand” is equal and consistent on all mediums. I thought this was very useful information to take forward in my personal career.

The workshop started with an introduction to the panel of five: Rich Campbell (Professor of Marketing, Sonoma State), Nicole Kankam (Managing Director for Marketing, United States Tennis Association), Melissa Marchionna (Senior Manager of Digital Programming, New York Jets), Dave Rosen (Senior Director of Marketing, Bleacher Report), and Russell Scibetti (Vice President, KORE Software).

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There were around 80 participants (students) in the crowd, which made for a more intimate setting—which I really enjoyed. It gave the workshop a more personal experience throughout the entire workshop. The students were mostly undergraduates, but there were a few graduate students sprinkled around as well. I was very impressed with the range of panelists and the positions they held in their current careers. Each panelist had at least one “golden nugget” I was able to take away from the experience as a point to remember in my journey going forward. I think this was one of the most valuable parts of the workshop for me. It’s always reassuring to hear from industry leaders that they were once in my shoes and with a little perseverance and hard work you can (and will) make it in the industry.

The most useful golden nugget I took away from this workshop was that LITTLE things go a long way and have the potential to turn into big things. This ranges from what you do at home to what you do in the work place. Are you paying attention to the little details? Are you doing the little things that other’s in the position wont do? One story was told about a fan having their beer spilt by another person sitting next to her. This fan had posted something on social media about it, and this sports team saw the post and came and brought her a new beer. This gesture isn’t huge in the grand scheme of things, but made a huge difference to that ONE fan and she bragged about her experience on social media which helped give this team a better brand image with their customers.

My favorite part of the workshop, besides the awesome free lunch, was the interaction at the end. After the Q & A period and lunch, the remaining students (some had to leave for class) were divided into four different groups. Each group was able to brainstorm and solve a real issue one of the panelists was currently facing. I was fortunate enough to be in David Rosen’s group from Bleacher Report. We had a group of around 10-15 students and our goal was to figure out how to market to college-aged students.

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Our goal was to find a marketing campaign that would help spread Bleacher Report’s name and image. Bleacher Report found that as people go through different stages of their lives they have different amounts of time to dedicate to looking through sports articles. As someone goes from college student to full-time career to potential wife and kids their time to research sports articles gets smaller and smaller. They want Bleacher Report to be their main source of information when they only have a chance to browse for 5 minutes as a dad, instead of 45 minutes as a student.

It was refreshing to have a “real life” problem to help solve. There are so many times during our MBA classes we are required to go over case studies and hypothetically problem solve for issues that have already been solved. Case studies definitely provide their own unique learning experiences, but there is a different feel when you have a chance to be part of a solution to a problem that hasn’t yet been solved.

After each group spent 30 minutes brainstorming we decided on our best idea and presented it to the rest of the group. I was “chosen” to present for my group, which was a great experience for me. I have presented a number of times in class, but usually these are cases we have spent time prepping for outside of class with the ability to refine our presentations. This was a much different experience to only have 45 minutes to brainstorm and put together a “presentation”. I enjoyed the challenge of learning and adapting as I went through the presentation. I thought this was the best learning experience I got from the conference.

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Me with my teams’ notes

Our final recommendation was for Bleacher Report to have a weekend “event” to promote their brand. We wanted to tailor it similar to ESPN’s Game Day. Each campus has a unique focal point where the majority of students “hang out”; we decided that the new recreation center would be Oregon’s focal point. As we brainstormed it became very apparent that college students LOVE free stuff, especially shirts. It’s a little crazy what someone will do for a free shirt on a college campus. So we obviously recommended giving away free shirts, as well as promoting different competitions and events to kids focused on what the recreation center has to offer. We thought of doing a three-point contest, and a contest of who could climb the rock wall the fastest, among other competitions. We would use social media to promote these competitions, possibly featuring the winner on the Bleacher Report website, since everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame.

In the end my group didn’t end up winning the “competition”, but hearing what each panelists had to say about all of four groups was refreshing and a win in my eyes. They all seemed impressed with the different ideas each group came up with and all of them said that they hadn’t thought of many of these ideas. They each said they would take at least one idea back to their respective work places and pitch it to their superior.

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Each team got up and presented their idea to the group

Overall I thought the experience was very useful and fun to be a part of. I am definitely excited to attend the future Warsaw Workshops. The problem solving experience made the Workshop more than just a “talking head” telling us about their experiences, but more about interacting first-hand with sports business professionals and learning new skills from them. I took away a lot from this experience and was proud of my classmates for putting together, and running, such a smooth and fun event.

Written by wscott2@uoregon.edu

Current Warsaw Sports Marketing MBA Candidate class of 2016. I am very passionate about sports. I grew up playing against my four older brothers, which helped me become a decent athlete as well as toughened me up in order to be confident in my ability put up a fight and battle in almost any situation I am put in.

MBAs and the First WSBC Action Sports Summit

The First Annual Warsaw Sports Business Club Action Sports Summit took place on Friday, March 6, 2015 up at Mt. Hood Meadows. The undergraduate club assisted by faculty member Whitney Wagoner decided that the idea of sports marketing is expanding far beyond the traditional team and ball sports, which has been the main focus. The club organized an event-filled day which included a keynote speaker, Adam Cozens of The Enthusiast Network to discuss the state of the space, a panel discussion, and an interactive team challenge where groups of students paired with a panel member to tackle a real problem he/she is facing. Finally, the day ended with play time. What is having an action sports summit without participating in some action sports? Students could choose from getting a lift ticket, snowshoeing or yoga. Overall, this inaugural event was very successful and I hope it continues for many years to come.

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The bus left at 5 AM and was primarily filled with undergraduate students, but 5 brave MBA students ventured forth to participate in the first Action Sports Summit. Four were from the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center and there was one lone Entrepreneurship student. But that is okay, since this is right up my alley with my passion for the outdoor industry. Whitney and the WSBC did a great job organizing this event with the panelist representing DaKine, Mahfia.tv, Evo and Mt. Hood Meadows. All brought a different perspective and presented new sets of challenges facing this industry. I found the speaker from Mahfia, Kim Woozy, particularly engaging. She is not only a woman entrepreneur (male dominated field) but also does women action sports (which is often overshadowed by the men). Its hashtag and overarching theme is “killinitsoftly,” which as Kim put it “embodies the female persona. It is usually the woman who stands the side but gets stuff done and makes it happen and pushes the norm without standing up to take the attention.”

My biggest take aways from this experience are 1) this industry is quite sexy and cool, but you still have to work your butt off to prove yourself in whatever role you choose to do; 2) passion and expertise are key. If you lack passion you won’t get very far. If you lack expertise, be willing to learn and take the initiative to get that expertise. Be knowledgeable enough to have an intelligent conversation with someone smarter than you! 3) Embrace who you are and always be authentic. Authenticity is key to any successful brand and that includes the individual. While the snow was a little depressing (everyone do your snow dance now!) the environment and discussions were absolutely amazing and I am glad I survived the hairpin turns on the back roads avoiding the accident on 36 to make it up there.

Written by Jenny Palm

Jenny a current Oregon MBA and Graduate Teaching Fellow in the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship. When she is not busy exploring how she can change the world, you can find her outside doing almost anything...especially finding that secret stash of powder on her skis! She has hopes to either help develop an awesome outdoor-oriented start-up or flex her organizational prowess in ski resort event operations.

AirFit Competes at Cardinal Challenge @ U. of Louisville

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After leaving Eugene on a 5:28 am flight, we arrived in Louisville, Kentucky, ready to pitch our company, AirFit, to the judges and audience at the Cardinal Challenge Business Plan Competition.  We knew we were up for a challenge as most teams competing were involved in life-sciences, and the judges would have to completely shift their mindset for our presentation. Unlike our fellow teams with their latest-and-greatest diabetes monitor or a new surgical instrument, our product is simple to understand.  AirFit is revamping the dreaded layover experience by placing gym and shower facilities into airport terminals, located behind security.  While most teams spent a significant amount of the presentation explaining how their product was better than the alternatives, our feat was to explain all the financial costs associated with our endeavor and why we were the best team to bring this vision to reality.

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Friday evening began with a social reception and introduction.  During our candid and brief self-intro to all the other groups and advisors, AirFit was immediately well-received, garnering applause and supportive cheers upon the initial announcement of what we were trying to accomplish.  Clearly AirFit’s value proposition was meeting the needs of many people in the crowd.  Funneling this supportive energy, we took to the stage bright and early the next morning, unveiling AirFit to the world outside Oregon for its maiden flight.  15 minutes of uninterrupted presentation, followed by another 15 of Q&A, we delivered a solid performance.

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The only team at the competition with just two founders, a completely different business model than any other company present, and having nothing to do with the deep fried chicken style concepts normally seen at this Kentucky competition, AirFit had the cards stacked against us.  These uphill battles became apparent when we discovered we unfortunately did not make it onto the final round.  Major challenges revolved around convincing judges to remain objective and not ask whether they, in fact, would use the product, but what the voice of the customer at large was telling us.  According to our market research (tinyurl.com/AirFitSurvey) of over 200 respondents, polled mainly in airport or gym environments, more than 85% indicated an interest for AirFit’s services, and at even what price-point they would be willing to pay.  Unfortunately these key data points fell on deaf ears and are an area of improvement in the presentation we plan on addressing in our next competition this spring.

While disappointed we did not win the competition, all of AirFit’s founders and team enjoyed the experience for what it was – a tremendous learning opportunity and one of the many rite-of-passages most new ventures must undergo. Our concept had open validation among individuals in the crowd, and even from competing teams.  The ability to compete in such an environment is a fantastic opportunity in and of itself.  Each team present in Louisville clearly contributed their own blood, sweat, and tears over the last few months to get to this point, only raising the overall caliber of the entire performance.  The final outcome of the situation is that all AirFit members are ready to tackle the next presentation, next investor meeting, and next step involved in taking our company forward on the path to success.  Namely, we are looking for one more individual with prior gym management experience to join the team in an operations role, and the next few months before graduation will be dedicated to this task.

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Written by Ty

After graduating from Dartmouth College with a degree in applied mathematics, I worked in the non-profit world as a group facilitator and program manager for experiential education programs. During my time working for private and public organizations, we well as small and mammoth universities, I simultaneously acquired startup experience as I founded sub and side project departments under the greater umbrella of my larger employer. I am currently a 2nd year MBA student at the U. of Oregon and have full intentions on remaining with my startup company, AirFit, post graduation