Calling All Photographers

You know when you tunnel visioned onto your iPhone’s screen locked on a new IG account you just found. You know the kind of profile that has all the best pictures, captions, and overall theme that makes you wipe. You find yourself wishing you could have a clean profile account like them. One that resonates with all the things you love and believe in. You contemplate deleting EVERYTHING on your IG and starting fresh only to realize you have no idea how to make the profile of your dreams a reality.

Well, we have your solution.

At the heart of it, you know that the only way to get the visually stimulating personal brand your account deserves is if you have photography skills. Getting the pics that capture the scenes, the products, and the meals you want to share is going to require you to have some real skills.

Why not own your photo destiny by learning how to become a real photographer?

Fownders is hosting a 2-day workshop with our lead creative team. They’ve collectively worked on Rapper ASAP Rocky, Streetwear brand Black Pyramid, and Gerard Adams’ accounts.

During this workshop, you will learn how to upgrade your photography portfolio, understand how to use your camera ( even if it’s just an iPhone), and get amazing custom Lightroom presets to set yourself apart on social media.

The first day will consist of learning about your equipment functionalities, settings, and how to frame up before you hit *click*. The second day is all about gaining hands-on training by photographing NYC locations. All with the guidance of Fownders’ professional photographers.

The top three most improved photographers of the workshop walk away with *prizes*.

Can this workshop get any better?

If you’re ready to get more double taps than Kylie Jenner, join our workshop going down January 19th-20th.

Get Your Ticket Now.

What Investors Want To Tell You About Your Pitch But Can’t

If you’ve been waiting for a sign to get better connected with entrepreneurs, meet investors, and pitch your start up… THIS IS IT!

Join Fownders X Equal Space at our Pitch Now Event

Since we’re all about helping entrepreneurs succeed, here are 5 quick tips when presenting your pitch to potential investors.

Start with Why

“People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.”

-Simon Sinek

Why have you started this business venture? Were you a consumer who experienced a lack in the market so you created what you needed? Are you driven to make a change? If you have a personal story that can be incorporated into your startup, tell it.

Storytelling gives your audience or investors a background on who you are and your character type. Many investors want to know whoever they are investing into have values they resonate with. Secondly, it gives people a chance to relate to you. If you see heads nodding during your story, that’s a great sign that people are picking up what you’re putting down. Start with why and remember “People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.”

Don’t Drag On and On, Be Laser Focused
Explain the key points with laser focus. Don’t get hung up on meaningless information. Be precise and clear. What is your exact product or service? How does it differentiate itself from its competitors? Who is your target audience? How do they find and pay you? What is your revenue model? What are your sales and profit numbers?

Respect the time you are given and use it wisely by getting straight to the point with clear cut answers.

Practice on Camera and In Front of Others
Yes, practicing your pitch is critical. We all know we should practice but how do you practice? It’s not enough to say it to yourself in your head. Say your pitch aloud. Record yourself pitching on your iPhone. Review it. Notice what works and what doesn’t. Another great strategy is to practice in front of your friends or family. They can pick up on things like if you are missing crucial points, being your natural self, and notice if your body language is off.

Be Enthusiastic And Have A Strong Close
This is your time to shine. All eyes are on you to see what it is you’re putting all your hard work, free time, and passion into. You should be proud and enthusiastic to be sharing your vision with others. Keep that state throughout your pitch, but especially at the end of your pitch. So often people lose their luster towards the end of their pitch.

They end with what can only be described as a throwaway statement that gives away all their power. People have ended a great pitch with a “So yeah.” or “That’s it”. Don’t let this happen to you. Make your last statement a powerful one that lands with your audience just like your opening story had.

After You Pitched Shut Up and Listen
Once your done with your pitch, get ready to stand back and listen. If investors or others give you feedback, value their honest opinion as a way to improve. Feedback is a critical advantage to improve your idea. The points investors give can be the golden keys you’re missing to unlock your startup’s treasure.
Ready to pitch your idea, business, or startup? Prove it.

Join FOWNDERS, Equal Space, and Investors at our Pitch Now Event happening next Wednesday, December 14th. Get Your Ticket Now.

Growth Hacking Your Social Media with Justin Wu

Justin Wu who coined the phrase hackapreneur and is the founder of Growth.ly, is the man to know when it comes to growing your social media at an exponentially faster rate. Justin has collaborated with Fortune 500 Companies like Wall Street Journal, been nominated as Key Online Influencer for CES 2017, and was a mentor for FOWNDERS this past October. He shared his expertise with Fownders on how to initiate and grow social media campaigns for your business. Here are the three takeaways if you want to grow your online presence.

“Care more about the attention of your audience not how you feel about these channels.
A key mistake made in the beginning of creating your online presence is getting caught up in how you feel about a specific channel versus putting the spotlight on your audience members. Perhaps you don’t engage with YouTube, or you don’t check Snapchat very regularly your relationship with this platforms may have you considering that they aren’t valuable to incorporate into your overall business content creation. What to remember is that it’s not about how you interact with these platforms but how your target audience does.

If you want to find more leads, customers, and fans you have to meet them where they are. If they are heavily on Instagram, you have to be there and so on and for forth for each platform. Afterall your business should be focused on your customers, and if they party on a certain platform, you better get there to join them.

Look for Opportunities For Collaboration and Takeovers
Collaborating with others who are in similar fields is a fantastic way to gain access to new communities. If a takeover strategy fits into your company culture Just Wu highly recommends trying it out.

A takeover usually last about a day or few hours. It consists of allowing another expert or influencer login access to your account (usually Snapchat or Instagram). If you can do a complete takeover trade the better.

Your audience will be happy to see that you’re connected with other experts. Bonus is that the person taking over your account has followers who will join them over onto your account allowing you to tap into their network. It’s a win-win.

Leverage What You Already Do by Stacking Context
Review your calendar. Do you have any upcoming events where you are presenting, being interviewed for a podcast, going to any conferences? Leverage any events by stacking them on social media. Talk about the events week prior and prepare the audience for it. Take photos and videos during events. Don’t miss the opportunity to document the event while it’s happening. It’s a great way to capitalize on influencial footage. Recap and repurpose the content you capture into other feeds or on your website.

BONUS TIP: Have appealing imagery
We’re all visual creatures and with social media always pushing out photos, videos, and visuals your brand and business need to have this competitive advantage. Aesthetically pleasing content is what will make your ideal customers stop their endless scrolling and stop on your image.

Wu began making infographics when he first joined Instagram. It was a tactic no one was really using at the time and got him noticed.

Do you have photography skills that capture great pictures to reflect your brand? If not check out our upcoming workshop to gain photography skills regardless of your equipment. (seriously, you can use your iPhone and still win at photography). This workshop will help you customize your own style, adds a real location shoot experience, and will set you apart in a sea of photos. Did we mention there are prizes for whoever improves the most during the class? Check out all the details here.

Of course, Justin Wu shared a ton of other golden strategies that help build your social media following. We encourage you to follow him on Snapchat and Twitter to learn more about growth hacking for your brand.

Dying to meet people like Justin Wu who will sit down with you and give you the strategy you need to take your business to the next level? You get that and more if you’re accepted to the Fownders “Seed to Scale” Program. Apply today.

Stop Whining and Start Hustling

Everybody knows at least one person who is often complaining about their problems. It seems like the world is completely against this person, and despite their best efforts, the world will continue to hold them back.

There’s a good chance that your friend is just complaining to cover up for their own problems. They’re probably afraid of failure and want to push the blame onto something or someone else, or perhaps they just don’t want to put in the hard work it takes to get to where they want to be.

When it comes to building a business, there’s no room for complaining. Making a business succeed is hard work, and it’s never going to be fair. But this shouldn’t stop you from trying.

The fear of failure.

You probably know at least one person that’s been sitting on their million-dollar idea for a number of years. They may have some plan, product or idea that they’re certain is going to change the market and make them more money than they’ve ever had before. Maybe they’ve even shared some of the idea with you, and you agree that this idea has what it takes to succeed.

Then why haven’t they taken his idea to the market?

There are thousands of excellent ideas and innovations that are sitting in people’s minds, just waiting to be tapped. Some of these ideas could truly be revolutionary and could transform the way we interact with other people and with the world. However, an immeasurable number of excellent ideas are never taken to the market. This is because it’s much easier to avoid the risk of failure.

Hindsight can be an entrepreneur’s worst trait. When we look back on everything we’ve done, we will always point back to one moment where we should have done something differently. This type of regret can be stressful and deconstructive to the point that we start to completely give up on ourselves and our ideas.

With this in mind, there’s one common piece of advice from almost every entrepreneur — it’s better to take risks and avoid regret.

While the sting of failure can be painful, there’s nothing worse than the perpetual pain of regret. Windows in the entrepreneurial world open and close quickly. Acting during this moment could be the difference between a life-changing business or a lifetime of regret. Without acting, you won’t give others the chance to shoot down your dream or idea.

However, without acting on your dreams and goals, you’ll never achieve your full potential. When looked at in this way, there’s no excuse not to take risks, and open yourself up to the potential of failure.

Make your idea ready for the world.

There is usually a window where your business can thrive — if you take it to the market. However, you can’t sit around waiting for a window to open.

Catherine Cook is the co-founder of MyYearbook, a company which was acquired by Quepasa five years back for $100 million. Clearly an entrepreneurial success, Cook shared a piece of advice with any current or prospective entrepreneur. “If you want to do it, do it now. If you don’t you’re going to regret it.”

This statement should ring true with most entrepreneurs who would consider themselves successful. At the end of the day, you’re responsible for bringing your ideas to the world. The world may not be ready to accept what you’re doing, and perhaps it never will be. But this shouldn’t stop you. Make your idea ready for the world, and put it out there. It could fail, but at least you’ll know for sure if this is something that would work or not.

The chance of failure for most ideas can be large, but even a slim chance of success should be encouraging enough for someone to commit to their goals. As an entrepreneur that’s started multiple businesses, I can’t express how satisfying it is to see your goals met and watch your business thrive. I’ve had my fair share of failures as well, but my failures don’t define me; my successes do.

Nothing trumps hard work.

Gary Vaynerchuk, one of the most quotable entrepreneurs in recent history, once said, “stop whining, start hustling.” The whining part is too common. People will complain that they aren’t ready to take their idea to the market or perhaps it isn’t a good time in their life. There’s always an excuse for why their imminent success needs to be postponed another week, month or year.

The truth is that there’s never going to be a good time. Life isn’t just going to be about your business goals or ideas. You have friends, family, personal interests and more that will always take up some of your time. How can you be expected to start a business when there’s always something going on?

Entrepreneurs are just like everyone else. We all have obligations beyond our businesses that take up our time. But the greatest entrepreneurs already understand that creating a successful business is never going to be easy.

It may sound cliche, but hard work is truly its own reward. This is because through hard work, your business is going to get life and purpose. The more you put into your business, the more you’ll understand what you need to do to make it work. The harder you work, the easier the work will start to become.

Anyone who has a million-dollar idea needs to stop waiting to take his idea to the market. There will never be a good time, and there’s always a risk of failure. But nothing is better than meaningful success, and nothing is worse than regret.

Endgame: The Data-Driven Decay of Sports

As Digital and Data collide, the forces of global connectivity, digital convergence, and cultural virtualization are fundamentally transforming sports. Newly-empowered by communication technologies and fueled by digital media, the industrial machinery of the Athletic Enterprise has found new life in the emerging Information Age.

But the collision of multiple big data dimensions is generating an exploding atmosphere of athletic data that is more complex, more expansive, and more immersive than any social phenomena ever seen. The Athletic Enterprise is in beast-mode, fueled by social media smokestacks, wearable-devices, and other technologies that pour endless amounts of data and noise into the sports landscape.

In a process that is gradual and insidious, centuries of tradition, athletic autonomy, and cultural integrity are beginning to erode as the inner story of sports becomes subsumed by the outer story of fan-first economics.

Without this inner story, the social economies of Sport cease to create value. Media are reduced to cheap popular advertainment and global spectacle. Athletes are reduced to quantified data sets. Experiences become fast food entertainment.

And the stories that define our identities and shape our values become lost in the darkness of big data.

RE EVOLUTION // HomeRuns - Data-Driven Decay in Sports

Welcome to the Athletic Enterprise

Through the lens of big data, there is no sports industry.

Sport is an essential component of economic society, providing identities, experiences, and narratives that instill values, organize people, and create opportunities for advancement. It is not confined to a single sector, but woven into the very fabric of our civilization.

In this context, there is no “industry,” but rather an enterprise of epic proportions.

The Athletic Enterprise is something deeply-human, brought to life by a culture complex of individuals, networks, and economies that span all sectors of global society.

The primary output of this enterprise is data – from everywhere, everyone, and everything. With big data, the old ways of understanding sports are gone.

But the Athletic Enterprise is complex. Multiple stakeholders, including individuals (participants, personnel, audiences), organizations (teams, leagues, brands), and industries (events, media, retail) operate with relative autonomy in this highly-fragmented landscape, each with different interests and business incentives.

Every entity within this densely-layered web generates massive pools of diverse data, most of which typically remain unconnected in silos or unstructured in networks. Despite this, the Athletic Enterprise’s adoption of technology has always been spectacular – sports are always undergoing waves of big-data-esque transformations (moneyball, social media, wearable tech).

The difference now is these waves are all colliding at once as the digital world converges.

Driven by fame and finance, the quantified athlete seems to be a very logical extension of the quantified self… Professional athletes are the living embodiment of the quantified self in that they are measured, assessed, tracked, tested and monitored on a daily basis.

John Nosta, Forbes

The Dawn of the Athletic DataSphere

The entire athletic experience is now taking place within a massive and explosive evolution in how we use, store, and transmit information.

The Athletic DataSphere has arrived, and it is highly-fragmented, socially-complex, and poorly-understood. This is not just traditional sports data like stats and highlights, but rather an entirely new dimension encompassing everything and everyone involved in the athletic experience.

Dimensions of the Athletic DataShpere include:

  • Videos, Photos, Audio
  • Social, Web, Content
  • Statistics, Scores, Schedules
  • Coaching, Scouting, Recruiting
  • Academic, Student, Institution
  • Healthcare, Medicine, Nutrition
  • Training, Fitness
  • Business Operations, Marketing, Consumer
  • Public Records, Open Data
  • Biometrics, Wearables, Sensors
  • Personal Identity, Social Connections

With multiple big data dimensions exploding at once, there’s simply too much data, media, and information to aggregate, organize, and make sense of.

Despite the big data hype, the Athletic Enterprise is not designed to handle this type of exploding data – it is simply impossible to manually assemble disparate data into actionable assets quick enough to create real-time value or deep enough to create long-term growth.

This is the real “big data,” and it represents a different species of change. This is not television-to-internet big but oral-to-written-history big. It is a transformation of culture, of time and space, of reality.

RE EVOLUTION // HomeRuns - Athletic DataSphere - Big Data in Sports

An Economy of Distraction Provides an Illusion of Depth

Nowhere is the concept of big data more misunderstood than in sports. It’s what psychologists call the illusion of explanatory depth – we think we understand something more than we do. Of course we know sports, they’re everywhere.

But the science of Sport is surprisingly complex and greatly miscomprehended.

Unable to grasp the magnitude of the shifts underway, and unable to see the Athletic Enterprise and DataSphere in their entirety, the majority of people fail to understand that innovation in sports means changing the cultural fabric of society.

In 2014, the World Economic Forum stated that “data are now the equivalent of oil or gold. And today we are seeing a data boom rivaling the Texas oil boom of the 20th century and the San Francisco gold rush of the 1800s.”

But initially, this oil was fueling lamps, not economies. Originally brought to market as kerosene, this exciting “new light” pushed the “night back” and increased the work day. Gasoline was simply a by-product of the refinement process, and the real transformation came many years later with the development of the combustion engine.

This is where we’re at in sports – fascinated by the bright new light, unaware of what we don’t know. And so the conversation about data and sports is always about enhancement, not transformation.

Like oil, data needs to be activated in order to have value. And because information is the raw material of the 21st century economy, technologies and architectures that extract value from data can trigger explosive growth.

But to activate this potential, complex ecosystems like sports need third-party entities to provide critical value-added functions. The only problem: this is an industry of Gods and Gatekeepers.

The effect of nowness resembles the effect of light pollution in large cities, which make it impossible to see the stars. A flood of information about the present shuts out the past.

David Gelernter, Computer Scientist, Yale University

An Inevitable Plateau of Profitability

Sports are situated at the nexus of tectonic shifts in new media, big data, and digital commerce – forces that all experts agree hold massive, transformative potential. But where is this massive growth actually coming from?

How much better can athletes get? Even if individuals, teams, and leagues achieve optimal performance, the Enterprise as a whole isn’t growing. If I win every game and make every shot, my brand value may grow, but the enterprise as a whole isn’t growing.

The best becoming the best reflects efficiency, not growth. Accelerated recruiting, sport specialization, and advanced systems of training have eliminated the hidden gem and optimized talent acquisition and development, meaning the system is already in place to maximize potential.

There is also competition between sports for talent, between properties for attention, and between sports programs and other social services. One more football player means one less soccer player. More watching ESPN mean less watching CBS. Limited resources (participants, attention, capital) mean zero-sum growth.

Sports are already operating at near peak capacity in physical space – “big” growth is not possible from adding new leagues, teams or athletes, building stadiums, or expanding schedules.

Calendar constraints and real-time packaging limit opportunities to expand event-based revenue, monopoly leagues have no threat of competitive entry, and colleges are established institutions.

The fantasy sports boom is beginning to slow, signaling a ceiling to its use as an economic driver, and every brand is becoming a publisher generating additional layers of digital content which, in turn, creates more noise.

Meanwhile, youth participation is declining at an alarming rate.

The impact of the global economic downturn on sport has certainly started, and we find ourselves somewhere in the middle of what is rapidly becoming the most unprecedented situation facing the new world of commercialized, globalized sport.

Dr. Simon Chadwick, Chair of Sport Business Strategy and Marketing, Coventry University Business School

Today’s Athletes Are Tomorrow’s Fans

Declining participation is a death knell for long-term sport equity.

From 2008 to 2012, Twitter went from generating 300,000 to 175,000,000 tweets a day. Combined with Facebook, YouTube, and other new media channels, the DataSphere began to grow.

During that same time, youth sports participation dropped 9%. The combined participation in the four most-popular U.S. team sports – basketball, soccer, baseball and football – fell among boys and girls aged 6 through 17 by roughly 4%. The number of kids playing Little League baseball dropped nearly 7% percent. Football, -5%. Basketball, -6%.

If 6 out of 10 kids play sports, and 6 out of 10 adults are fans, you don’t need a master’s degree in data science to see that declining participation is the canary in the landmine.

Despite the success of major media conglomerates, monopoly leagues, and big businesses at the apex of sports, despite the real-time spectacle and bright shiny objects, the Game is decaying from within as the Athletic DataSphere begins to explode.

With global data expected to grow 40x over the next five years, creating real, long-term, cross-sector value out of information is a serious problem.

RE EVOLUTION // HomeRuns - Athletic Data

Story is The Cultural Technology That Drives Growth

Story is the engine that creates value and drives growth.

Technologies that truly transform sports do so because they increase storytelling capacity. Historically, every increase in the popularity of sports has taken hold through an increase in the capacity to convey stories. Sports and media have a symbiotic relationship, and more storytelling has always meant more popularity and more profitability.

The entire value system of sports, from participation and fandom to branding and business, ultimately depends on one thing: the capacity to produce and consume story. The ability to grow – to attract more participants and fans, to plan more events, to attract more coverage, to increase sponsorship space, to increase brand equity – is wholly dependent on a capacity to generate a individual and collective narratives around the game.

What we’re witnessing is the emergence of a new form of narrative that’s native to the Internet. Told through many media at once in a nonlinear fashion, these new narratives encourage us not merely to watch but to participate, often engaging us in the same way that games do. This is “deep media”: stories that are not just entertaining but immersive…

Frank Rose, The Art of Immersion

Digital Gridlock

Market complexity is inhibiting agility, innovation, and collaboration.

Storymaking (creating legacy), storytelling (crafting legacy), and storybranding (connecting legacies) in sports represent industrial age systems, creating analog value in a new digital world. And because TV is the money game, the entire industry has over-invested in a cultural technology that limits long-term growth potential and is ill equipped to capitalize on emerging technologies.

As other sectors harness the power and potential of big data, athletic identities, experiences, and economies remain linear, analog, and abstract. The industry isn’t calibrated for transmedia storytelling.

While key stakeholders protect their assets in the new Digital Ecosystem, limited resources (athletes, events, attention), digital gridlock (media rights, market complexity, emerging tech), and data-driven decay (more noise than story) signal an inevitable plateau of profitability.

But if sports can make the transition from a real-time entertainment product to a timeless cultural experience, and if big data can be used to create a new, deeper, monetizable story space, then stakeholders have the ability to fuel growth across the full Athletic Enterprise, fostering a new era for modern sport.