[REPLAY] Paul Rabil - Lacrosse and Entrepreneurship (Capital Allocators, EP.95)
I'm Ted Psyches and this is capital allocators. This show is an open exploration of the people and process behind capital allocation through conversations with leaders. In the money game we learn how these holders of the keys to the kingdom allocate their time and their capital. You can keep up to date by visiting. Capitol allocators PODCASTS DOT COM. If you've heard my conversations with Michael Schwimmer or Ben Writer you probably know a big sports fan and I love talking about the intersection of sports and investing. Ben Introduced me to today's guest and left the chance to hear his story. My guest on today's show is Paul rebel. The CO founder and CEO of the Premier Lacrosse League. Where P L L? A new tour based League of the top professional lacrosse players in the world. That will debut on June first. Paul was the number one player in the draft for Major League. Lacrosse in two thousand and eight after winning a national championship at Johns Hopkins. He's a seven time champion three time. Mvp and if he asked my son Eric. The best player in the world alongside is on the field. Accomplishments calls a passionate entrepreneur. Who was the first Lacrosse player to earn a million dollars a year in endorsements? Our conversation covers Paul's early interest. Lacrosse developing social media fouling. The importance of sponsorship revenue for athletes in the leverage athletes have over teams. We then turn to the formation of the P. L. including Paul's attempt to purchase the M. L. With the search fund his shift in business model from private equity venture capital the tour based model operations distribution and the onfield product. We closed by discussing suiting up. Paul's podcast worry interviews. Top professional athletes and coaches and the poor able foundation which brings across to schools for children with learning differences. Pause the savvy off the field as he is skilled on it and as the P. L. L. Takes off as I suspect it will. This conversation may well mark an important moment in time for this fascinating. Startup League tune in to NBC. To Watch the first Games Gillette Stadium in Foxborough Massachusetts on the first weekend in June. Today's show is sponsored by canoe. Intelligence Canoe software allows you to read process and extract data from emails and. Pdf's you get from your managers and send them directly to your portfolio reporting system with no heirs and then next to no time visit CANOE INTELLIGENCE DOT COM to learn more and mentioned. I sent you for a special offer. Please enjoy my conversation with Paul rebel. Thanks so much for joining me. I'm really pleased to be here. Thanks for having me. There's GonNa be a lot of fun and you probably know him a bit of a sports buff. So why don't we just start with your background and really your path to Lacrosse? So I grew up playing sports as a young kid. My Dad tells me to this day that he would get my older brother Mike and my younger sister and I. Into whatever sport we had interest in plain so long as there was a path to getting us in there and we played majority of our ball in wreck. Lacrosse. So I played soccer basketball. My brother played baseball. I Swam I ran track cross country and there was a point as I was improving as a young athlete. I was twelve and I kind of shudder saying that. Because there's so much pressure on sports specialization for young kids today. But I was growing fast and I was talented in basketball and soccer in both my coaches wanted me to play basketball a you and soccer club soccer and I wanted to keep playing both so I told them no and then my neighbor at the time was playing the Cross and he came to me with his backup equipment. Said Hey why you put this on and fill that void you have in the spring. I what the hell across was despite being from Maryland a lot of people think Maryland and New York are the two hotbeds. It's actually Baltimore in. Long Island saw about an hour and a half from Baltimore and at the time in the early nineties wasn't much lacrosse. Oh I struggled for the first couple of years and then over time really felt like I was excelling plane that game more than I was in basketball and soccer so when I got into High School. I began really focusing on the prospect of skill acquisition. So I could play in college. And what did that look like when you were in high school? A lot of time against the wall. A lot of time creatively trying to improve this was early. Two thousands pre youtube around the turn of the Internet age and so we were getting a lot of our inspiration as young athletes through imagination and on occasion while actually once a year there would be Lacrosse on television. That was at the final four. And it'd be on. Espn two so. I would have those VHS tapes and rewatch those games to understand where and how the game was played at the highest level. And I would try replicated in my backyard I think now there's more time allocated to scrimmages and practices and there's seemingly year round across. I was watching a piece from Wayne. Gretzky who references this with his dad to his time out in the backyard on the ice by himself where he was just working on his skill and doing so creatively was the most valuable and probably seminole time in his career and he worries that fewer kids are doing that. So you go through college and you start playing pro lacrosse yet. First of all I. I didn't really even think about pro across too much when I was in college at the time I even when I was fourteen and then through high school. I viewed the gold. Standard in Lacrosse is played at the National Championship game in College. And so all of my focus and attention even my senior year was. Let's win a championship. And how do we get there? It's different in college basketball and college football and even baseball and hockey and big four sports. And it's Ok that a kid is like Zion Williams talking about is competing for an ACC championship and an Ncaa Championship his freshman year. But he also says he's going to go to the NBA. That's okay right. Realistic and practical. That was completely non existent for me and then when I did finish my senior year we lost the national championship game to Syracuse. I was bombed and the NFL draft took place. I was drafted I there's a scheduling overlap at the time. Which is something that we've solved for and we'll talk about that with the PO L. But the NFL season had started in April. So they're already six games in so you feel distant from the team in the league coming into a season where they're almost halfway through. But I had a job in real estate as an analyst for an investment sales team. That's what my predecessors had done that played in both pro Lacrosse but had started their careers in Wall Street a real estate or legal entertainment etc. So I did all my internships leading into that graduation year and then I took a job in DC and my bosses knew who I was and they were okay with me taking off Thursday nights after work and flying up to Boston to practice on Friday and playing in the game that weekend and coming back on Monday nicd up but that got old pretty quickly combined with that being two thousand eight so the pit of the economy especially I was in investment sales that we were trading buildings and no buildings were being traded so I was just thumbing around on August trying to figure out how to model and wreath releases and then got to a place though at the time where facebook had just launched its fan pages so I was on facebook and I adopted it in college when it was a college exclusive program and then after that championship game my junior year and then certainly after the championship of game my senior year I was always accepting inbound friend requests because they had lower the age barrier to get in down to thirteen plus so by the time I senior came around I attend thousand friend requests because I was capped out at five thousand friends. That's actually the impetus why facebook created athlete pages because some arbitrary person behind the scenes said no one should have more than five thousand friends. It's unrealistic anyway. So let's have a cat but for athletes that may have millions of fans. What's allow them to start a business major? So I started an athlete page. They converted all those fans so out of the gates. Fifteen thousand plus fans that I was communicating with and I was like wow. This is really interesting because this is now direct communication from a pro athlete to a fan base. That didn't exist. When I was twelve looking for that and searching for that imagination or skill acquisition that we talked about so something clicked for me shortly thereafter instagram lodge twitter launched snapchat and accelerate. But I was always an early adopter but with that did is got the interest of some sponsors that came to me because they were like this person's marketing himself and part of this new sport so nine months into my real estate career. I got an endorsement with under armour. I was the number one pick. I was playing. Well got an endorsement with a. Lacrosse company called Maverick. That was enough runway for me to decide to leave real estate and then supplementary start a camp clinic business to offset a low wage. Which at the time for rookies with six thousand dollars for the whole season. Yeah show I have to think that they're very few players at the time that would have been able to make lacrosse there fulltime work. Yeah there were a few Karl Harrison. Who was a senior captain? My freshman year at Johns Hopkins. He was doing so through his hybrid sponsorship Employment Agreement with S X. So they brought him on and he was the face of. Spic was creating hard goods soft goods with them but he also had health insurance through the business and he was helping on the creative side. It was a big value. Add for that company but he was also given a ton of autonomy to train as if he was a fulltime pro athlete because they needed him to continue to play at the highest level so that was one example and then the gates had done at previously but they were playing both indoor and outdoor and there was a lot of stuff that they helped pioneer the Powles as well they had taken attempt at it but sponsorship revenue is critical for non big four sports. And then even if you look at the big four sports athletes. If you're Lebron James Sponsorship Revenue Far exceeds is on court on an annual basis and so part of that is lock part of it is timing and then part of it is ingenuity by the athlete foresight and willing to do a lot of work to try and benefit these brands. Me Good partner. Yeah so as you're playing 'em. Ll and running these camps. What was the evolution of that kernel of business in two? Where it went contribute. Until now we'll talk about now. Well aside from my focus on the cross which was playing in both Mo an ano so now all of a sudden I had a seventeen thousand dollar wage plane no L. I had that six thousand dollar which Plane Emily L. I had sponsorship income coming from under armor and Maverick and I started a campaign clinic business so that was how I view Lacrosse and then next to that I had an older brother. Who's also an entrepreneur and we started building companies together and we were building gyms at the time because he played football at Dartmouth. I play the cross at Hopkins felt like we knew a little bit about fitness and then our third business partner at the time was an analyst at summit partners and they had just acquired the majority stake of snap fitness so we had an inside route to a franchise business that was pretty lean from an operational stamper for cost structure standpoint. They could operate on its own and we felt like hey this could be something that is in our wheelhouse from intellectual competency standpoint. We had inside knowledge around how these businesses are successful through the angle of summit in the acquisition and must try to scale these at low touch point so I was flinging gym memberships in joppa Maryland. I was living in Baltimore train in the morning with my Disney coach. J. Dire or drive up to JOPPA sell memberships from ten. Am to eight PM. I would take breaks to post on social media and I would come back reset and then on weekends I teach camps and clinics. I was getting a ton of exposure and business through my brother and we were building multiple properties. And what happened from that as speed? Up as we self funded the build out of these Jim Coz they were essentially like Sixty K. to one hundred twenty k. You could build them out pretty quickly because they're small and they were targeted in neighborhoods. That didn't have a competitor in a two and a half mile radius and what were twenty four access keycard gems. This is before. Like planet fitness surged and before the twenty four hour fitness. And all that stuff and their neighborhood gyms in that your customer had a key card and they could scan in. There didn't need to be an attendee. There they had this twenty four hour security system that kicked back to H. Q. So that's why I was really lean and we could operate these things and get them up to two hundred fifty five hundred members they spit out cash and it was a cool idea so that was how that was functioning and we were learning. But because we had to self funded. We prefer not to wanted to get some debt out from a bank so we could have a better. I are that turned into the thought of. Hey there's a lot of folks that can guarantee leases out here. There may be too young to have a strong enough fico and all the other reasons of being in two thousand eight to two thousand ten. We're not getting any debt from a bank. Let's start a small business lending company. I was a passive investor in there. That was more my brother Mike and their business partners but we started endurance lending network so he shifted his time full-time there. That got acquired by funding circle when we were out for our series A. That turned into funding circle. Us moved out to San Francisco in our paths. Were on both coasts. And that's how I was building so that's a little bit more of the background of how I got here. I was always like getting a lot of learning experience and business and building operating and then I was taking a lot of that insight into how I was forming the structure around camps and clinics and managing people that I was bringing onto my payroll and then the last piece. I would say that really helped me understand. More sports business in media is I would take out my calendar every year and marked down the major sports conferences and I would pull on the relationships to the hat in the industry to say. Hey can I get into these events? In some cases I couldn't I'd book a flight and pay for a ticket to get there and it's a south by South West Sports. This is World Congress of Sports. This is slow in sports analytics. This is GSP's sports innovation. And I would sit and I would listen to executives talk now take notes and I always viewed myself as an athlete. The had the opportunity to monetize to grow build and potentially do something. Great in a sport that was really primed to be commercialized. So was there a moment or a day when a light bulb went off? And you said okay. I've been preparing. I'm not sure for what but now the idea that became the PL. No there wasn't a day. There were a lot of conversations I was experiencing equally some small success in some small failures and because of the accelerated platform. I had which was an audience. It was now tipping seven hundred thousand followers aggregate if I launched an Ott instructional platform which did call the poll rebel experience. I could onboard customers much easier than Joe Smith Launching Lacrosse instructional. Ott even if Joe Smith's Ot at a better you. I I had greater reach. That's why athletes are now really valuable for early stage startups as small investors. That can if you're the entrepreneur and you carved out well get access to their audience like immediate customer acquisition. Did you find of the social media platforms? Was there a bigger impact on one or the other Kansas? All going back to it. A chemist all of it but those were different times these platforms are evolving their algorithms daily. And I would actually say if I were building now and I was a young twenty year old. I would think about you spray. Then you figure out which platforms best for your skill audience. Reciprocity and so on and you just go long there. There is overlap but there's not full overlap so there is value in being on multiple platforms but understanding that value. So if you're an athlete right now. I think the biggest platform to be on instagram. If you're a chief investment officer like yourself or notch Noor or an analyst or journalist twitter right that's where conversation lives live in it's viral and smaller user base but really compelling content that goes on there and then if you have the resources and the creative know how and the ability of cashews and edit youtube can be an incredibly valuable platform and has been for a lot of millennials and who have evolved into these influencers of baked huge audiences. So those are those are. I would think about it now if I wasn't building the PO L. Right now in just long on media still I would probably tighten more around whether I'm going to go for example video exclusively on instagram or youtube. I'm on both right now and I love twitter. Shaw always be there but with instagram out there. Tv and stories. I mean it's no secret everyone's competing against each other. So that's what I would say there. Okay so we'll circle back to the founding of P. L. L. Yeah so we were having a lot of conversations around. Hey emits all the growth. I've had as a personality in sport and that's captured by total followers and so on endorsement revenue was going up for me camps clinics. Were selling out. There were other players that were just as big if not bigger than me coming through the college system. That weren't doing what I was doing. And as a result weren't catching the fire that I caught so I started spending a lot of time with younger guys and saying like. Hey here's how think about it and a lot of them were just reaching out to so there. Was this really hot lamp. That was on around players at the time that was because new media new technology and then next to that was the emergence of non big four sports because of new streaming platforms the evolution of media. Ott On demand instant replay could even call it but that was there when when I was growing up but this is no longer traditional media back in the first Major League baseball days. Were just print radio locally and your ballpark so you have the emergence of the UFC. You have the emergence of Croff it drone race league your PBR Street League Skate X. Games all these properties now have been hitting on the right messages the right technology and the right media and they're growing. This is all post two thousand eight so we just kept thinking why not across. What are we doing wrong here and I was working really hard as a number of guys with our teams to try to address that but as a player you're just you're limited so is about two years ago Mike. Can I got together and Mike at the time is kind of backwards. Who's run revenue at funding circle? And then he had a like a lot of executives in Silicon Valley had a really strong about seven year. Run and said okay. I'm now reenergize again to go back and build from scratch so he was going to begin a search fund and he had some overhead capital the support him and go do an elbow of a five to ten million dollar business and Mike was like. Hey what are you doing Paul? Your time thirty one and you're picking up a lot of lot of skills so why don't you come out to Silicon Valley with me and let's go to a search on let's talk about cross so he said? Okay and we rolled our sleeves up for a few months as part of that sleeve role. We were meeting with them all and we were trying to understand where they work because at the time they had just announced the step down there commissioner and so Mike and I were going insane like hey what's management. Look like something that you'd be interested in US looking at her taking a swing at that take place but the more we were digging in the more we looked at those other leagues samples and me as an athlete other athletes. There's something here so about six months later. We went back to Mo L. With overhead capital that we had acquired at the time is primarily private equity and we proposed a number of different scenarios of essentially buying them or rolling them up and keeping them involved from an equity standpoint but essentially like. Here's why like any entrepreneur would and there's a level of confidence that you have to have but there's a lot of humility say like here's why we think we're best fit to operate the saying. Here's some of our ideas. What do you think and so we spent a lot of time talking about it? Couldn't come to a a solution but through that time we had you're so much conviction around where we think pro. Lacrosse could be. And I'm sure we'll get into this but our league is tour based model so the model is completely different than attritional team sports league and so had we agreed to some form of. Mna really roll up. Roll out tour even with allow had that taking place. So let's go right there. That crux the difference between team. Based in a touring model we had the benefit of starting a major team sports league from scratch in two thousand eighteen. What would that look like and mentioned Major League Baseball because you look at consumer trends? You look at? That's across the board from the way that they consume sports but also their behavior in market externally and so on and then you look at available resources so Major League. Baseball was founded at the time of linear media. Bean local newspaper local radio as television evolved into local and then national instant replay on demand. Ott that whole fifty seventy year span Saul Sports. Consumption changed drastically so while people used to grow up in the same market where they live the rest of their lives and go to the local ballpark and they had that geographical affinity because teams and leagues were far bigger than athletes. You fast forward to where athletes are now a social media and there's plenty of data and that's been aggregated across Google facebook and now the SF. I and so on that athletes following our Ford sometimes eight to one the size of their teams and leak and because of that instantaneous access that fan can have to watch Christiane and all those live games overseas or if they're on the east coast favor. Lebron James and the Lakers are steph curry and the Golden State Warriors because they watch all their games and then follow them and communicate with them on social that the connection has changed and the leverage has changed. And that's why I was talking about this yesterday. Receive Free Agency the way it is in basketball leverage change the athletes have the leverage. The teams don't anymore and that's even circulated in the NFL which is biggest anomaly and very few leagues if any should try to compare themselves how the NFL sets trends so we were looking at that as as a case study and then we were looking at operational optimization. So if you're a non big four sport traditionally you go out and try to find owners and you franchise it and oftentimes those owners don't venues most times. If you don't own a venue in a city based model you have to then become a tenant on a lease and a Lotta Times your de prioritized and then you have to every year. Try to create your schedule even the MLS has challenges with schedules. And they own their venues. So if you don't own it then you and you're saying okay. We need eight home games from June through August. Give us the options. They give you the options and then you go cross compare with all the other teams and you scrap everything you do. What you end up with is very few optimal times to host games. Moreover when you're a ten on a lease very few non big four sports are playing an NFL venues or mls venues just really expensive. So we looked at that saying at. This doesn't feel right individual. Sports seemed like they get it right with the tour based model additionally in model like Nascar if all the best racers in the world descended upon a major city or a major venue and the racing over of course of the weekend services fan festival component. You're bringing corporate partners to life. You're actually optimizing the spend on production because you're not sending production trucks all over the country to capture multiple races of the course of the weekend. There's only one group they're capturing the race and so there's that moment but will we looked at two if we were go war base in all of our teams coming in the same market. We ran out of venue for the weekend. The most important thing that second to having the best players in the world in any sports league is you have distribution. Sports are consumed through media less than five percent of sports fans. Actually go to games consuming it through your mobile device. Your tablet your television circle of conversation. So if you don't have distribution you might as well just chalk it up a loss and so if you're going back to that least structuring if you then have limited times that are de prioritize then you go to your network and you say here's when we're playing games and they don't have open programming windows. Which by the way oftentimes get booked two years in advance? You Ain't getting a network even if they're interested rather if you go on a tour base model and say hey. What are your open windows on Saturday and Sunday and they go? We have a four o'clock this time. An eight o'clock on Sunday we go done and done because we control that whole weekend. So that tour base model solve for distribution out of the gates and distribution as table stakes and sports leagues. So that was where we are. Then if you look at the last factor that I'll share with you as if you're a non big four sports leak typically you look at all these leagues whether it's National Women's soccer league the WNBA has gotten a big an injection of growth from the NBA owners. Doing the right thing. Which is owning the W teams and Joseph and his group. Just purchase the New York Liberty. But if you look at water polo rugby or Lacrosse. Your and fewer than typically twelve markets. You have ten or less and for us. We said okay a sport that's growing east to west. It's the fastest growing team sport in North America at the youth level. Over the last fifteen years it just got Olympic recognition at the international level so book ending International to youth. I gave its recognition to participate as an Olympic sport. There are two more steps but that recognition is really difficulty at that came last November. There are sixty countries that are nationally sanctioned playing Lacrosse right. Now it's the fastest growing team sport in the NCAA level both men's and women's. This is the oldest sport in North America. We were like this thing. Has Product market fit all right but if we're launching the league and in our case we have six teams if we tie each of the sixteen to a city actually very very local and we're exclusive and by going tour based and not attaching a city to the front of Jersey. Yes it's more challenging and it's more abstract based on how consumers are used to consuming team sports leagues but when we go to our thirteen markets all over the country over fourteen weekends. And we'll go to one twice and that's in New York. We all of a sudden our national sport and fans all over the country can choose their allegiance base going back to our point of favorite player favorite player and coach. Combo favorite team Combo or even the culture that we better on teams. So there's a lot of yeah been talking for ten minutes. Here's some of this is. This is awesome when you get started. So you're going to have to rent out big stadiums. You gotta figure out that distribution you start with funding and concept do you start by trying to get distribution locked up. How did you put those pieces of the puzzle together so we started with a seed round just like any founder or co Founder Group? You've got put in a lot of work leading into any round of financing Scott. Galloway says you've got to be willing to sign the front of a check not the back and it gets even more dynamic than that because very few people in the US will work for free now. Imagine working for free eighty hours a week and then writing a check to the company that you're working for hard but you have to build your investment thesis. You have to create an. You've got gotTa have the right conversations with the players and the networks to that point and the stadium you gotTa have all the case studies and the cops and got put forth the effort so we did that first and then we took the investment opportunity to some venture capital because the time to acquire emo had gone so you shift quickly from private equity venture because this was certainly venture investment so we raised a small seed round and the goal of that was to allow us to anchor a network deal secure venues get. I leads in on sponsors. Sign up players hiring executive team so small in the scheme of sports it was a healthy seed around but so we had about a six month period. You're execute reflecting on this. Mike and I have to be confident and passionate about your concept but we had an opportunity at one point to just raise a ton of money in one round. Tricky around valuation and this is a pre revenue baton at sports sports have major evaluations because of fan attention and viewership sponsorship future revenue so we decided to Parse it out photos healthy to do that with our investors but we did all of that ramp up in that six month and then had our series eight done. Because there's basically Ken these two guys go out and do this and it was daunting we were certain we were. GonNa get a network deal. 'cause we had all the interest from CBS NBC Fox Turner ABC. Google Amazon facebook and twitter. And so then it came down to because of our tour small. There was that interest in what we were building. And then the excitement around the cross and then the other macro trend is that the NFL NBA League Baseball. Nhl Rights are up in twenty twenty one twenty twenty. Two so brands are trying to position themselves. You saw the W deal get jacked up because these audiences are continuing to grow. And they're very sticky. Ufc rights went up. So lacrosse can can be a big one. If done right so there was interest. Goes to timing weird secure an NBC. Deal they were the best partners that offer the best deal at the time that was John. Miller has president. Programming people was President of NBC. Sports Group and Mr Lazarus who's in the room now who's running NBC so we're talking at a major partner level and really excited about it because we have nineteen games on television three of them on NBC May Network. Sixteen on NBC. Sports said jumped. Espn two last year and total viewership. This is on par with while we have fewer games in the NHL. I mean this is a game played broadcast schedule on par with some of the biggest sports leagues in the world. So nineteen on television. Nineteen on NBC Sports Dot Com and NBC. Gold makes it a hell of a lot easier to launch a product. When you have a network partner you get the network partner to imagine. Now got the facilities to do figure out where you're gonNA play the weekends yet. So we had was a pool of probably thirty cities that were interested that had availability. So certainly wanted to target premium venues the have fiber technology connectivity to make the broadcast. Not only easier and functional. But we want to elevate the broadcast for this game is not going to be three to four camera. Broadcast is going to be seven to ten and that's huge for Lacrosse. Which is a big field in the small ball? That moves really fast. It's tough to track so we were doing it all simultaneously. I mean we were doing our. It's like everything from VIP wristbands on site. We have a group of working with called prize. That does the do tour. And all the red bull signature series and staffer event activation partners. Our main thing is player competition distribution corporate partners. That's all in source star Beatty team and merchandise as well and then we have a lot of outsource strategy. But it's a major lift ankle through some of the subtleties in how you actually then form the league in the team so I start with. How do you pick the players? What we looked at was with our players and this is why was really attractive and having been there and we talked about the six thousand dollar wage in two thousand eight is. It's just not enough to be a sport that produces the top quality competition on the field. You need your players to be full-time or about his full-time as possible. And I say the last part of it because our players are still because of haven't lot of them have jobs or a coaching. There's going to be probably a three year transition. We're not saying. Hey leave your job on Wall Street tomorrow. Income take this wage that we elevated from what Mo L. formerly distributed but. There's certainly a demand around attention during film and practice time scheduling and all that stuff so we elevated the wages. We also saw for challenge that I had experienced in some of my peers. Were fulltime Lacrosse players. In that we were sourcing our own healthcare to challenging time matter who you are in the US so we said okay tracing Leonardy League we can open up healthcare to our players and so they can opt in and then the last one which is I think the most transcending is we viewed ourselves as an early stage Silicon Valley startup venture backed from folks like Joe Cy and and Joseph Sports Rain Ventures. Caa CHURNING BLOM. We have an individual. Who's one of the most successful Hedge Fund Operators Breath Jefferson? This is a group of investors and advisors that expect and are working with us to build on that same trajectory. And what you have in. Silicon Valley is a treatment of your employees where they get stock options of the business. And that's carved out in your employees Cap table so we carved out a portion of that for our players since our players have options in the business going along with where we're seeing trends in sports is players become by far and away the most valuable asset league is. How do we all row in the same direction? So as they're building value for themselves they're also generated an enterprise value for the business and they're receiving a return on that as we continue to grow this thing this how we did it now to your question around picking players with that environment the last thing we wanted to do was make this exclusive so we had conversations with who we deem the top players at the time which was based off of tenure and Pro Lacrosse. Usa team Canada Team All star nods. Mvp's to build a list of about fifty guys that we had first level conversations with and frankly the first ones that we were had. We weren't sure if they were just going to say flat out. No because a lot of athletes. If they're like me they grew up watching Michael Jordan and now Tom Brady and they see that kind of city. Based model this is asking someone to think creatively and try to align with our vision like ten out of ten. Everyone's like love this and then from there we built our player. Relations team is led by Carl Harrison. And then Tom Schabowski. And when you have Karl Harrison who had mentioned earlier and Tom Schreiber's rainy. Mvp like having conversations with players is pretty good so we created a structure around. Okay we have six teams twenty two active roster players per team twenty eight total per team. So they're six inactive roster players and we're going to have a player pool we came up with that number and the player pool is whoever wants to kind of opt in and be accessible to coaches. Who essentially driving the competition on field. That was based off of data to so over the last five years in Pro Lacrosse. Any given team typically dresses upwards of thirty three players on then and nineteen man roster so that accounts for trades injuries inbound college players. Like me back in two thousand eight and then even inbound. Nfl players which is the indoor league because of that scheduling overlap so the latter two won't be as maybe as abundant as the last five years because we adjusted the schedule which is another benefit. I didn't mention the tour based model. We could say okay now. We want to start in June when colleges done but nevertheless we came up with that pool of one hundred sixty to one hundred eighty guys that will be plane at some point on data form teams. There's no draft no individual owners. I had put that together. Yeah myself in my brother Mike. Our Co founders of this business. I'm our chief strategy officer Mike CEO. So I work across essentially media and corporate partners then I chip in around and rules and innovation and product on field from time to time but it was critical for us that we bifurcated are Oregon built out a Lacrosse unit. They could focus on competitive integrity management of coaches operation of weekends management players so are player Relations Team. Tux Lacrosse Award. And so we brought on Josh Sims. Who's our head of across is about a fifteen year professional in sports product management technology. He was a three time first team all American at Princeton one of the best players that the game has had over the last few decades and he was constantly watching. Us paying US around. Hey this is really interesting what you guys are doing. I've been distant from the game since I retired. Pro Lacrosse without the like entertained coming back so we through the course of interviews and so on brought him on as our head of across so he oversees all of what I had mentioned and is also currently building out his team of operational managers and so on so he helped hire our head coaches which are all world-class kind of led by stars who who's arguably one of the best lacrosse coaches in the game's history. And then when we talked about forming our teams it was a combination of getting feedback for players who are option holders in the business and then also how we can attention hack or gather the right response from the market they could get a nascent stage league off the ground faster in starting lane three or four verses one or eight. The feedback from the players in hindsight was fairly obvious which was we. Don't want to draft. No players went drafts. Unless you're drafted I you know so so that was cool to hear and we were originally saying. I mean. We talked about everything Ted. We talked about a traditional draft. We talked about creating draft that was based off of fantasy auction. Ugc draft from fans and so on but what we kept coming back to was gold standard in the sport. Going back to my experience college Lacrosse. Then we look at the player pool that we have now and how there's twenty three guys. It played for Maryland. There's over a dozen played for Duke and there's this organic competitive alignment in Chemistry. That's already there. And when you talk about best sports in the world you look at teams that have that chemistry in that competitive fire that sometimes has been built over a decade between the coach creating culture there like a Gregg Popovich or other times three to four years with the player duo that continue to build that chemistry in the locker room on court so it was clear to us that we had an opportunity to not only have best product on field through that baked in chemistry but also aggregate a fan base. That Loves College Sports College across specifically so one of our levers that we looked at and building. These teams was college alignment between our current player pool. The second was if you look at guys like myself in Karl Harrison Joe Walters who've been playing pro over a decade. Is that even more impactfully than college. We've played with certain guys for ten years versus four so we looked at former pro team chemistry and then we pulled out the data around skill in age and we did awaited basically awaited scorecard. So Josh lead that adjacent to Josh. We had built a Lacrosse advisory board. Because we wanted to be as objective as possible the second CISA folks like Dave Petro Ma and John Denounce Katie. It's chaired by Seth. Tierney has jen Levy on the board. Has Someone like Paul Carcass? Tear on the board on the announcement side and analysts side of across Gen. Levi's one of the top coaches in the women's game both with e Team USA North Carolina. And so we worked with them to say okay. What do you think basically does this past sniff tasks they came back and gave feedback around certain players here and there? And that's how we form teams. And what do you do over time? If if they're just imbalances will there be trades. Two guys retire from the League. Have you thought about that? As a multi year period goes on. Yeah definitely so. In addition to form I mean these teams which by the way. They're six of them and we have the best players in the world so the competitive parody is just absurd right. I mean if you look at. I would be willing to wager a lot. That no one's going undefeated but yes from the moment. We formed teams which was two weeks ago. From the time we're filming. This is in the hands of the coaches. So we haven't unveiled publicly. How Trades Look? We announce that we're doing a college draft. We haven't unveiled the order of the draft yet but yes just like any team sports league. We only have this moment once in our life cycle and from there on out these teams will take their own shape based on how the coaches interact with the players and adjust through trades or college drafts or dealing with injury a retirement and subsequent years. They're going to be building to win. And this team dynamic is kind of interesting in a tour based model. I'm imagining that. The players live all over the place. How do you form and build the chemistry of a team? And some of you mentioned that it may already exist with some of the players when it's not like a bill checks football team. Were starting on Monday morning. They're getting ready to practice for the Sunday game. Yeah exactly right so the first thing is eh. The cadence of practicing is pretty close to mirroring. How Pro Lacrosse has existed in that. There's a couple practices. Maybe three depending if your son game a week that these guys get and it's jammed inside of a seventy two hour window but that's how these guys are used to it and frankly like if you zoom out and you mentioned bill. Who's a friend of mine? I've gotten to know him for the last decade in half because he grew up playing across in the Maryland. Area like me football. They don't actually practice during the week during the season. They ain't suiting up. They'll go through skeleton offense and defense but it's a lot of film work. It's a lot of rehab strategy conditioning conversations and all that in person experiences very valuable but understanding where we are at this stage in. We'll get there in a future stage but add the technology and tools that are available. So there's a lot of software services that allow coaches to host video conferences with players. Every night during the week they can send out scouting reviews. They can sound out tape to players. They can monitor viewership from players that type of scouting and video. Prep and work. That gets done remotely. That's easy and then it's our job. As the League different than what? Pro Lacrosse players have been afforded formerly to make sure that our players have the right resources when they are in their home markets to train to have access to PT. And we do that through our medical partners to Australia conditioning. Partners and so on among the other media venues you've touched on the one we didn't mention. Was Your podcast suiting up. Why don't you just talk a little bit about the last couple of years of that and what it is sure what you learn from it if your audience as an know by now they're still tuning in and they know that? I talk a lot so this medium is great for someone like myself likes to air it out with someone else but I grew up with learning differences. I had auditory processing challenges at Adhd. I was an early adopter of a program called Kerr's well it's still in schools now but essentially you scan your reading material or now you can just online and it can read it back to you and you can click and highlight and my very visual and audible learner. And so I was always attracted to podcasts. And a few years ago I found myself part personality type just so obsessed with the medium and the way that I could satisfy a lot of intellectual curiosity and learn. I mentioned going to sports conferences through my first decade as a young professional sensually getting that information on a daily basis depending on who is subscribing to and listening to through this forum and my friend at the time WHO. I was working closely with on a few projects. Who's now our manager of content and a savant when it comes to digital social and frank widely technologies names Tyler Steinhardt. He was tapping my shoulder. New my relationship with someone like Bill Belichick and Venus Williams and Steve National folks he was like. Hey you love podcast. We're always talking about sharing podcasts. Why don't you start your own in share some of those conversations? You have with those guys like Jeremy Lin and stuff like that and I thought about it because at the time I was getting approached by a lot of networks. Do lacrosse specific show. I was doing enough across stuff and I just enjoy sitting down with people like you and talking. So that was the impetus of watching the show but as you know. It's a ton of work. My podcast is called suiting up with Paul. Raval we've done seventy plus shows. I was doing on a weekly basis for the first year and a half then we started building the PO L. and Turns back to your other question. Like how do you think about social? So podcasting is a form of social network now and I think there's properties right now. They're trying to synthesize the tools intact like spotify and apple pod and those revolving and so I decided to relaunch the show on a season based strategy so twelve episodes will be starting in June have already begun recording with some guests. And what are the most important lessons you learned from the interviews? Did on your podcast. There are fantastic lessons from each of these conversations. And whether that's again with the folks I had mentioned Tony Robbins or Scott. Galloway the professor of Business Marketing. Nyu Stern nine. Time Entrepreneur. Two-time Time New York Times bestselling author Ryan Holiday to give you tactics when you sit down with them but at a really high level and we all hear this but it's great speakers can frame things really well they resonate as a result but to create something meaningful. That has an impact. And a legacy. There's literally no way around the work that's required to create and it's time consuming. It requires an insane level of endurance and speed partially talent but mostly endurance and we often romanticize successful entrepreneurs or athletes or entertainers but behind the scenes urges full immersion and real sacrifice. And so it's motivating for me and it also gives me a concrete episode to go back to on a random basis because they all talk about it when times are lonelier darker struggling and building. This things like everyone goes through it. That's great you mentioned. You're learning differences and it's one thing to have gone through it. Battled figured out how you learn but you also created a foundation focus on. It's only touch a little bit about the rebel foundation. Yeah so we started that in two thousand eleven twenty five at the time and was just catching momentum from social media as we had talked and I had come off my first mvp year and probe across. And I felt like because of. And I'll say really fortunate to have parents. That constantly instilled humility and gratitude. That I was at a point where I could impact and it probably came from the interactions that I had an abundance through the camping clinic side of things with Youth America that there was an opportunity for me to reflect on how I was able to get to this position and that was mainly through support. And what I could do now with the opportunity in the kind of platform that I had Try and contribute. And so I sat down with my folks and few other mentors and we decide to launch the poor able foundation and the goal was to at first provide LACROSSE EQUIPMENT. Educate coaches to schools. That didn't have access to the sport that were focused primarily on educating children with learning differences. And there's a much larger conversation going on in the US and particularly around public schools that have LD departments but of a handful of states. Most actually don't recognize specific learning differences and as a result because of that govern recognition. All kids with different whether it's autism to dyslexia to adhd to auditory processing disorder. They're all put the same classroom. It's not a conducive learning environment. And so there's challenges and that's why private school education for children with learning. Differences is really helpful. But it's expensive and just like any private school. They try to allocate the resources to their teachers and they don't have much extracurricular so we sat down and said Lacrosse was a huge confidence. Booster for me. Who struggled with confidence in the classroom? Let me try to start there. And then the more we dug in and the gratitude that came from our school partners the more we said okay. Let's use this platform to raise money in start scholarship fund to so we give. Mark Grant Scholarships to families and kids in need of that financial aid to go to those specialty programs. Integrate asked right now. When is the first weekend? Yeah Yeah Great. Yeah Yeah June first is when we play our first game. That's let stadium so right now. We're that we've been announcing our venues over the last month and a half on a chronological order. So we're starting at Gillette. So that's June first and second two games on Saturday one on Sunday they'll be on NBC. The second week is going to be read born in New York. The third week is going to be at the new seatgeek venue which is formerly Toyota Park in Chicago. Cmo venue. They're the fourth weekend. We announce it's going to be at actually John Hopkins Home Field so it's one of our to college venues and the fifth weekend. We just announced yesterday is at Georgia State. Which is former. Turner field in Atlanta Georgia. So right now we've been getting a lot of conversation around tour base and approaching new markets. And we're in a lot of east coast markets per announcement and we'll explain more when we finalize the announcements of our schedule in its entirety but no different than NAS car or the wwe. You gotTA synthesize the process through business ops so it doesn't make sense for us as a company to be in New York one to be in California week to to Philadelphia Week three to be in the Pacific northwest country. Yeah I mean. This is a big operation right. We have fifty five foot trailers going from one market to the next. But these are also venues that are working with us very closely and committing resources and and support through everything from security inventing in parking to actual marketing to sales so this is a very collaborative experience on a week to week basis and I will give a quick shout out to our our S. VP of strategic operations Anderson Sandberg was an early employee at Spartan race and then went to Wharton School of Business Helps Kale Berries. He's one of the sharpest people I've ever been around and does the work output of probably three people on a daily basis. But he leads those ops and he was. Mike and Mike is second employees. The first Kyle Harrison so he's been in the trenches with us for a long time and knows a tour base product very. Well I Paul you gotta run but we have to have some time for these closing question. What's your favorite hobby? Your activity outside of work and family. It changes part of my obsessive compulsive personality. But my mom's an art teacher. My Dad was a paper salesman now. Our Dad works for the PO L. And he helps lead our youth efforts through Peel Academy going back to my mom. I took her art classes growing up and I love the arts and an art scholarship in high school. And I've got back in art so I'm painting a lot acrylic painting. What's your biggest pet peeve? Well I'll say this it might be crewed for the podcast but as an athlete. You're always kind of like back and forth in the locker room and I really dislike when there is a team mate. Who Goes to the bathroom? Leaves the seat down and pees all over the toilet search rushing right? And you're like hydrating during the day because you have a big sixty minute match. And so I'll sometimes I put a sign up. I don't know why the case I go back to that. Ocd around cleanliness. But so this is interesting for you. What's your favorite thing to read? I've become very fond of what's categorized and. I'm not sure this should be the case. Things should change in a barnes. No or bookstore is self help. Books are referred them as self growth. Is I love reading about the human psychology. It's beneficial to me personally to people that I work with professionally to investors. We interact with into my ability to lead on the field or interact with teammates. So the first real self growth book. I read was daring greatly by Bernard Brown. That's caught fire over the last few years but Harriet Lerner Esa Perot those are all Great authors of books elected what teaching from your parents as most stayed with you. They've taught me a lot. I would probably say always saying thank you and understanding that there are patterns that have developed and opportunities that have opened up that. I'm getting access to because of my brother. My younger sister my mom and dad or people with Internet with our outside of our work so be very aware of that and then work ethic but the one that they continue to harp on now is kind of relaxed and smile and enjoy the moment as I think. Feel probably pretty good about what Mike and I are doing from an effort and comprehension sandpoint. Tisch. WanNa make sure. We're not get into carried away last one. What life lesson him? You learned that you wish you knew a lot earlier in your life empathy. I would say I think it's probably the most powerful skill that any person can have no matter what you do and I wish I had it. It's hypothetical in that it requires experience and failure to really learn in maturity so love do have had it when I was younger unrealistic. But what I have now and what. I'm trying to continue to improve. And strengthen is my ability to empathize. It helps you as an executive helps you as a player helps you as a friend and a son and a partner and I think a way that I least share with folks are my podcasts. And we'll have some of these conversations. It empathy often gets framed in the way of something. That's negative or sad or challenging. So can you empathize with this person? And the next question is well. If you've never experienced that moment it's difficult to be in that person's shoes and so that's like empathy at its best is if someone can be in the moment with someone else who suffering but what you can do to work on. That skill is actually in the inverse caught positive empathy. Empathy isn't just around something that's challenging and I'll give you an example in sports if you have a team mate who makes a game winning goal and we're all competitors and we'd all love to have the game winning goal if you find yourself actively kind of shunning or saying. Hey I'm pumped cut one but I would love to have. I missed that last shot. It's not the right mindset. Celebrate others victories. To celebrate others wins. If someone in your workplace gets promoted try to really be with them. Nba excited positive. Empathy is a lot easier. But if you're not good at that you're definitely not going to be good at consoling in times of struggle call. This has been awesome wishing you the best of luck we watch and and thanks so much for taking the time. Thanks for having me. I really appreciate it. Thanks for listening to this episode. I hope you found a nugget or two to take away an apply in your besting and your life. If you'd like what you heard. Please tell a friend. And maybe even writer review on I tunes. You'll help others discover the show and I thank you for it. Have a good one and CNN dot.