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At MediaJobs.com we have established our mission of Finding the Great Companies First. In keeping with our mission we have created this interview series with some of the newest startups in the New York City market area. We encourage you to learn about some of the newest companies and think about what might be a good fit for you.
What is the name and location of your company and who are the founders?
We are The Shadow League and we are based in New York City. We were founded by media veteran, Keith Clinkscales.
How did the idea for your start-up come about?
After working in sports for many years, we recognized that there was a void in the world of sports journalism- that of the cultural perspective. Race and culture is a major part of sports that wasn’t being properly addressed and we consider ourselves to be at the intersection of sports and culture.
Of the key people involved what is everyone’s experience and background?
Keith Clinkscales, founder and CEO, is a successful entrepreneur and award winning producer with a lengthy background in media. Some of his successes include creating Vibe Magazine and Savoy Media and developing ESPN’s highly successful “30 for 30” series. Yussuf Khan, GM and SVP, is an experienced media executive who got his start at ESPN and went on to hold senior sales roles at successful start-up ventures including CSTV, Interactive One and Big Lead Sports.
How do you see your company creating value or disrupting an existing market?
Our value comes in our unique position and voice. We are honest and independent and the first, and only, company in the space focusing on sports and culture. Our concentration is on perspective, commentary and opinion as opposed to scores and statistics, all through a cultural perspective and we stand alone in the market through our position. As no other company has this concentration as their primary focus, we have been able to stand out and establish a position for ourselves where we are respected and trusted by athletes, teams, publicists, conferences, leagues, fans, journalists and other publishers.
When was the business founded and how are you being funded?
We were founded in 2012. We are self-funded and funded through premium brand advertising.
What is the current size of your business, number of employees?
We have 7 employees
If you are seeking further funding, how much and for what purpose will the new funds be applied?
We are looking to work with investors interested in working with us to expand our staff (sales, editorial, and audience development), product offerings (content and technology based) and presence in the marketplace. We look to expand our operations/offerings in these areas, particularly in our original programming series, events and Shadow League Films division. These areas have produced the greatest ROI for us and we look to continue and grow the great success we’ve experienced in these areas so far. We are looking for partners with a long-term outlook who understand the direction of the company, the value of our proposition, the importance of our position and necessity in the marketplace, and how our long-term strategy will create great value for their investment.
What is the product and or service you are providing?
We offer brand partners the ability to interact with sports fans, particularly multicultural fans, through culturally infused sports content, content which is professional, positive, informative and inspirational. We provide fans with a new perspective on sports; not news, but rather commentary, opinion and narratives that bring them closer to their favorite sports, teams and athletes. We are a multi-media company with digital, video, radio/podcasting, event and film offerings, all of which retain our unique voice and perspective. We also develop content for other publishers, particularly original video content.
Explain how you are seeking entry into your marketplace.
Through our experience, mission and success, we have already entered the marketplace. Now we look to strengthen and expand our position in the world of sports.
What seems to be the biggest strength of the team so far?
Our ability to create successful original content sponsorship opportunities for premium brand partners without compromising our unique voice or mission. We have successfully created original content series and programming that provides great value and return for our brand partners while also providing a trusted platform for athletes, teams and organizations, one that they feel very comfortable working with on a continual basis. To date we have created four features content series and two video programming series, three of which have been sponsored, two of which have seen sponsor investment triple from 2014 to 2015.
What was your greatest “Ah-Ha” moment to date?
We knew we had a powerful concept that could be successful, but when we had multiple brand partners working with us and expanding their partnerships with us, we realized that we had something special that we could develop into a successful, long-term business.
What was the funniest thing that has happened?
Not sure about the funniest thing, but the most rewarding thing is seeing us exist and grow over three years, proving those that doubted us, and those who said we wouldn’t be able to succeed, so very wrong.
If you can only do one thing in your industry what would that be?
Become the premier, independent, minority owned and operated, and multi-media company in the sports marketplace.