THE SPORTS ENTREPRENEURS
“A Coach At Heart – From AND1 To Sixers Innovation Lab”
Seth Berger has seen it all, took the risks as an Entrepreneur, build an iconic brand in the process (AND1), sold the business, with success and failures along the way. He shares his amazing stories here with us with a smile and laughter. The Sixers Innovation Lab gives him now the playground to follow his passion, being a Coach at heart. Listen and learn. Tons of incredible Entrepreneurial lessons in here.
- How it all started – coming out of Wharton Grad School – AND1 Database Marketing business early days…
- Great Entrepreneurial start up stories not to be missed
- The real AND1 started in a Pizza place
- As an Entrepreneur you are winning and losing every day.
- Ego is the brother of insecurity. And Seth has no time for either
- Focus on 16 year old Basketball consumers – AND1 T-Shirts were born
- Some luck – MJ retired for the first time and his brand stopped selling and retailers were looking for something new
- From T-Shirts to Shorts to Basketball Shoes – almost bankrupted the company in the process
- Incredible Stephon Marbury story – Marbury 1 – break an ankle with SM
- Business took off from there hitting USD 280 mil in revenue and become 2nd biggest Basketball shoe brand in the USA
- Creativity a key to the success – great slogans “call me Mayor because I spend all my time downtown” 😂
- Commitment and focus and no space for ego
- Birth of Mixedtape Tour and ESPN’s Streetball
- Selling the company – the stories and emotions behind it
- The story behind “Tai Chi” – Vince Carter, 2000 NBA Slam dunk contest
- Hoops TV – ahead of its time and despite all efforts it failed
- Sixers Innovation Lab (SIL) – reconnecting with Scott O’Neil & HBSE
- SIL’s USP – access to HBSE network and affiliated services and cash
- Invested in 14 companies, sold one so far
- From sports gambling, Esports to health drinks – broad range with a focus on B2C – examples
- What are the three most important factors to chose investments: Market, Team, Idea 💡
- Ask the right questions. Technology today allows you to find the right answers
- Focus currently on US companies but open to others
- Gaming & Esports – it’s real and might become bigger than real sports
- SIL’s three investment in this space (U.gg,..)
- Betting on young talent
- Basketball “Coach” at heart
Managing Director, Sixers Innovation Lab
Seth Berger earned his MBA in 1993 from the Wharton School and his Bachelor of Arts in Economics from University of Pennsylvania in 1989. Seth has been the CEO of four businesses in the consumer space, and his fifth “venture” has been to build an elite high school basketball program as Head Coach. In these ventures, Seth has started with a hyper focus on the understanding of the target consumer, with the philosophy that every consumer business must meet and communicate a specific consumer need to survive. After that, he has worked to create branding and marketing strategies to drive messaging that sticks in a world of constant consumer messaging.
AND 1 — 1993-2000, 2002-2005
As Founder and CEO of AND 1, he ran an upstart basketball sneaker, apparel and entertainment company. After starting out selling screen printed tee shirts in 1993, the Company moved into the broader apparel and footwear market. AND 1 reached its height it 2001, when it attained the No. 2 spot in the US basketball footwear market. At its peak, AND 1 had revenues of $285 million, including its licensees. In addition, AND 1’s entertainment division created the Mix Tape tour and Streetball, an ESPN series that was the No. 1 rated show among male teens, eclipsing SportsCenter. AND 1 also donated more than 5 percent of its annual profits to youth-based charities. In 1999, the partners sold a stake in the business to TA Associates, a venture firm out of Boston. In 2005, the company was sold to American Sporting Goods, a private shoe company based in Irvine, Calif.
HoopsTV.com — 1999-2001
Seth served as CEO of HoopsTV.com from 1999-2001. He helped raise $15 million in financing for the business, hired its staff, and launched a site dedicated to basketball fans all around the world. Despite negotiating a partnership deal with ESPN.com, the business was unable to generate enough revenues to continue, largely because broadband capabilities were not strong enough to sustain its business model. Seth shut the business down in 2001.
Lightning Gaming — 2005-2006
In the fall of 2005, Seth took on a part-time CEO role for another start up, Lightning Poker. This business was the brainchild of Brian Haveson, former CEO of Nutrisystem. Brian was traveling the country as a professional poker player, and he approached Seth with his idea and patent. Seth helped raise $1 million in financing, hired a staff, created an automated poker table, and negotiated an international distribution deal with Shufflemaster, a public company. After 12 months, he turned the Company back over to Brian, as part of their original agreement for his term of service. Lightning Gaming now holds many slot machine licenses, in addition to its original product, and is a non-traded public company. More information can be found at www.lightningpoker.net.
Gravy Train — 2011-2012
Seth self-funded a small venture in the mobile gaming space. GravyTrain created a Facebook game, “imthnkgof” (I am thinking of), and launched it in December of 2011. Although the idea was executed well, the market for these games started to crash, led by Zynga, and Seth shut down the business before wasting too much money.
The Westtown School, Westtown, PA, 2007-Present
Seth is currently the Head Boys Basketball Coach at The Westtown School, in Westtown, PA. He has had this role for 12 years, and was an assistant for two years before that. His teams have a 72 percent winning percentage, and they won their league title seven of the last eight seasons. The team won the state championships in 2016 and 2017, and have four runner-up finishes. The Westtown program is a high level athletic and academic program that has helped many kids move on to play Division 1, 2 and 3 basketball in recent years. When Seth took over the program, the team had a 3-15 record in his last year as an assistant, and it had only won one basketball league title in 1986.
He and his wife, Christelle — also a Wharton School graduate — have three boys. They also have guardianship of five brothers from overseas who attended the Westtown School and now live with the family. Prior to Wharton, Seth was Legislative Director for US Representative Harold Ford, Sr. from 1989-1991. He was, at 21-years old, the youngest Legislative Director on Capitol Hill. As an undergraduate at Penn, Seth was a four-year letter winner, captain and MVP of the Sprint Football team. He played one year of junior varsity basketball. Seth also received the Bowl senior award for service to the community. He is still waiting for his first 10-day contract in the NBA.