Hey everybody, I’m Brian Clapp, VP of Content and Engaged Learning at WorkinSports.com and this is the Work In Sports podcast…
When I say cornhole, flag football, spikeball and breakdancing -- it probably sounds like the planning stage for an epic fourth of July party, right?
Add in some axe throwing, a little karate combat and the party starts to get a little intense.
The reality is, these competitive activities that are well-suited for a decked out summer affair, are taking the sports industry by storm. These aren’t fringe activities, they are high growth sports properties popping up around the globe, invested in by major brands, broadcast in prime slots and making their way into the Olympic Games.
Yes, you heard that right, Olympic Games.
We so often focus on the major sports and normalize them as standard. Hitting a little white ball with a club towards a hole 500 yards away seems normal, but tossing a bean bag toward a hole 24 ft apart is “fringe”.
Bouncing a rubber bladder covered in leather, and throwing it into a basket at an arbitrary 10 ft height, is extremely normal... but tossing an axe into a wood block target 15 ft away seems strange.
Truer words have never been spoken.
Roe himself is a little on the fringe. A highly competitive lacrosse player, he played professionally for the Philadelphia Wings in the National Lacrosse League, spent several years as a chief executive with the AVP professional Beach Volleyball circuit, and helped launch Major League Lacrosse.
He’s always gravitated towards sports with upside. Slightly off the beaten path, but with the potential to be great.
His company, Maestroe, focuses on these high-growth sports properties and assists them in all the various stages of their growth cycle -- sponsorships, venues, business planning, marketing, broadcast deals -- this is a fascinating discussion into a side of the sports industry we don’t often talk about.
Here he is, Gabby Roe, President and founder of Maestroe...
1: I’ve read where you’ve described your company Maestro as a “growth engine for high-growth sports in various stages of their development.”
On a podcast you get more time to expand and articulate, so tell us all – what is Maestro?
2: What led you down this path? Where did the intrigue for growing fringe sports come from?
3: Let’s define “growth” a little – are we talking revenue growth, or visibility growth? And even broader, do those require different approaches?
4: You played lacrosse at powerhouse University of Virginia and in the National Lacrosse League for the Philadelphia Wings back in the 80’s– what traits from your playing career have served you well in the business world?
5: For the various sports you work with, you and your team at Maestro have helped them secure sponsors like Uber, Monster Energy Drinks, Chipotle – massive brands.
To make these deals, is it more important to know someone on the inside of the business and have a powerful network of connections – or is it about having a good story and connection to their brand?
6: What is it like when you get Chipotle on the phone and say, “I want to pitch you on being involved with the Pro Breakdancing tour?” is there ever a moment of self-doubt?
7: How important is data when you are in a pitch? I’d imagine these huge brands want to be convinced of their reach and impact, not just sold a cool story.
8: Are you able to take the knowledge you have working with one sport, like curling, and apply it to another growth project like ultimate frisbee? Are there techniques and knowledge that cross-over or is it complete different each time?
9: What about the audiences? Are there similarities across fringe sports, or are they completely different animals?
10: OK, let’s get into the tactical a little bit -- without sharing any company secrets -- what does a growth plan look like? You get interested in helping a sport like axe-throwing grow – where do you even start?
11: It seems to me these sports are tailor made for content – viral videos, social campaigns – is content and video is how you reach the right audience for these products?
12: It appears from this conversation that your role requires, marketing, sponsorship, negotiating, leadership, facility management, and multiple other skills. But if you were advising young people dreaming of working in the sports industry – what should they focus on to be successful in the sports business?
Gabby Roe President of Maestroe Sports and Entertainment shares his philosophy on winning, and how you learn what you are made of:
Gabby Roe, President of Maestroe Sports and Entertainment, shares how Coronavirus affected his portfolio of high-growth sports: