Beginnings: The MidState Years

May 2nd, 2012

I’m not a very reflective person. I tend to take moments for what they are, and then I move on from them as I look forward to what is coming next. Usually, I am so caught up in the next phase of whatever project I am working on that I rarely get to sit back and think about what I may have experienced or been able to accomplish. Now that I’ve taken my talents to Corporate America, I am completely removed from my prior projects, and I have found myself a bit more thoughtful about those earlier days lately.

I can remember my friend telling me he wanted to start a website and he wanted me to partner with him on it. I was totally down, but I told him if we were to do this it had to be done right. Super official, completely legit. He agreed and we got to work on what would eventually become MidState Hoops LLC, my first venture. We were just a couple of kids. I was 16, he was 15. Our goal was to do something the state had never seen before in regards to high school basketball.

Our presentation was motivated by innovation. We believed that if we covered the sport and the state in a way it had never seen, we would grow our audience. Sure enough, our audience grew, as did our influence, and business opportunities. The latter was a bonus that we never thought about when we started. The opportunity to generate revenue was an afterthought in 2004 at inception.

From an early age I believed I would run a company, but I never thought about starting multiple companies. I did not realize that was something that would interest me. Looking back I clearly was developing a serial entrepreneurial pattern that I can’t say I realized about myself until my early 20s. I believe the earliest signs of this came from the iterations we were always going through with MSH. It seemed like every 10-12 months we were trying to refresh our brand, image, features, and products. We were never content with what we were doing. We were constantly evaluating ourselves in search of what we could do next, and how we could build on our success.

Our desire to do something new was an early indication of a desire to do different things in different categories beyond basketball. Constantly trying to improve something is only one step away from applying the same thought process to anything else that may come to mind of interest. These miniature idea blitz must have progressed my thinking beyond what I was currently working on into the possibilities I could reach out and grab.

MSH taught me a lot of things. I believe it is during this time I began to learn what to look for in a business partner; what type of people can work well in certain roles and situations.  This was instrumental in my later projects where I had to find talent to help me operate the companies.

I also learned that acting on ideas is important. Doing what everybody else is doing does not guarantee success. At most it offers an opportunity to function in a stable environment, with no chance to survive in a highly evolving one. Whether it pertained to high school basketball or something completely unrelated I learned that I should pursue the idea if I felt strongly about it, and its viability.

This is probably one of the most important lessons from the MidState Years. When people ask me how to start something I usually tell them if they believe in what it is they want to do then they should try to do it. It may work, and it may fail. At least you will know, and the lessons that will come from that experience can’t be taught in a classroom, from a book, or from a public speaker. Even if you fail you’ll be glad you tried, and the next time you have an idea you will be that much closer to knowing how to make it work.

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