July 22, 2020

Haley Rosen — Elevating Media Coverage of Female Athletes with Just Women's Sports

Haley Rosen — Elevating Media Coverage of Female Athletes with Just Women's Sports

Former international soccer player, Stanford alum, and media entrepreneur Haley Rosen joins The Game Plan to discuss her journey which started with her as one of the top soccer recruits in the country to where she is today as Founder of Just Women's Sports.

On this episode, our guest shares how a realization that just 4% of sports coverage is dedicated to women's sports led her to pave her own entrepreneurial path. We dig into the launch of Just Women's Sports and how our guest plans to carve out a niche in a world saturated with sports content, but short on women's coverage. This includes the details of her fundraising journey. We also discuss what it's like to launch a sports-focused business in the midst of a global pandemic where almost all sports have come to a grinding halt.

Haley touches on her playing career where she details the shocking differences between being an amateur athlete at one of the top college athletic programs to joining a lower league futbol club in Europe. We explore what led her to ultimately give up on her professional playing career, a reality many of our listeners will empathize with.

Make sure to follow Just Women's Sports on Twitter and to sign up for the newsletter at https://www.justwomenssports.com.

Special thanks to Milos Ribic for making the introduction to Haley, as well as to our producer Will Richardson who edited this episode.

Follow co-hosts Jay Kapoor (@JayKapoorNYC) and Tim Katt (@Tim_Katt) for all things sports, media, tech, and venture capital.

Follow The Game Plan on Twitter (@thegameplanshow) and Instagram (@gameplanshow) for show news and updates, to recommend guests, and for bonus content!


Transcript

*Please excuse any and all typos, errors and mistakes in the following transcript as an automated service is used to generate this text*

Hey, my name is Haley Rosen. I played professional soccer in the U S and abroad. And I'm now the founder of Jess sports. This is the game plan.

Today we are excited to welcome former professional soccer player and founder of just women's sports, Haley, Roseanne, Hayley. Welcome to the game plan.

Thank you so much for having me. Okay.

Well, Haley, it's great to finally connect our mutual friend. Mila Rubik over at Adidas was kind enough to introduce us and I might be most excited to have you on the show because I think you're going to give Jay a run for his money in terms of naming firms on Sandhill road.

Oh my gosh.

Isn't that right, Jay?

Yeah, no, listen. That's fair enough. I'm sure we could go for hours just given how many new VC funds there are on Sandhill road, but we're going to hold off on that for now. but, but Haley, it's, it's a pleasure to meet you and, for our listeners who maybe are not as familiar with your story, let's start there a little bit with giving us just your soccer career and your experience as a pro athlete.

Yeah. where should we start?

But Haley for, for our listeners who maybe are not as familiar with your story. what I'd love to learn is, you know, from your soccer career, starting in college, at what point did you think about going pro and really see that as a real opportunity?

I don't, I always wanted to be a professional soccer player when I was really young, like seven or eight years old, I saw Mia Hamm play the 99 or is that whole squad. And I wanted to be being a ham. I wanted to be. As like, kind of lame as it sounds, I wanted to be better than me, a ham. She was like my idol and I wanted to go one further.

and I was like totally obsessive soccer kid. Like I was always kicking the ball in the house, getting in trouble, you know, staying out late, running fitness, like I was obsessed and I absolutely loved it and just had huge, huge ambitions. for me, college soccer. It sounds like so weird now saying it out loud.

Cause like, now that I'm older, I have more hindsight, but I always views it, viewed it as like a stepping stone. I wanted to go to a school that would set me up to be the best soccer player at the next level. And so, which sounds like a weird one frame Stanford, cause it's such an amazing school, but that was like, I was so singularly focused, like.

Almost to a fault. Definitely. My freshman and sophomore year, I was so focused on just soccer. I think I missed out on some of the stuff. I think I ended up recalibrating, but it was always my ambition. and I had a, I had a tough go at it because I ended up. Basically having for season ending injuries, which doesn't bode well, and you're trying to get to the next level.

so that was like a really tough journey. And really, I sort of first and only full season was my fifth year. And it's a really weird thing to be the oldest player in the field, but also sort of feel like the youngest, like you're kind of doing it all for the first time. Like having a full season going through what that's like emotionally, physically, mentally, So in some ways, it's like, I almost feel like, I, I guess I'm going down a tangent here, but I feel like my college career, like, it, it almost sort of like derailed where I wanted to go, because I was like really unfortunate with injuries.

Yeah. Yeah. And I know it's no secret. Stanford obviously has a phenomenal athletics program and facilities some of the best in the country. How do you contrast that experience as a student athlete versus some of the things you saw when you were overseas or playing professionally?

That was wild because Sanford is like, you know, you, you go from being a club player, your mom is driving you to soccer practice. You have everything in one bag, all that. And then all of a sudden, like you are a professional, you have the nicest cleats, you have the nicest field, the nicest balls, and you get spoiled really, really quickly.

And it's just also like, it's fine. Like it's fun to be on a beautiful grass field, like kicking the ball on a pristine goal, the best way to the best training. Like. I mean that as an athlete, like, that's really where you want to be and you come out of collegiate soccer, collegiate athletics, and you're going to the next level.

And it really is the next level. Like all of these girls are, you know, they're the biggest, the strongest, the fastest, the most technical, the smartest players. But then the facilities, I don't really match that. And that is like a really weird dynamic to go from the best of the best to like a high school gym.

And, you know, like you're back on turf, which like, I didn't touch her for four years, which was just like a blessing or, you know, the balls, like you're back to like, you know, a certain number of balls at your hand pumping yourself, which it sounds so spoiled, but it's those little things I do let you. Just focus on the training that you really miss at the, like the professional level and having to do your own laundry.

Miss that.

Okay. Yeah, I got to imagine. I mean, well, to that point, I have a follow up there. I know a lot of attention has been paid to the conditions and the difference between the conditions for the men's team and the men's sports side versus obviously the women's soccer team. I guess on that note, I mean, tell us about the difference that you felt playing, whether it was, you know, leaving Washington spirit and then going across the pond to play.

tell us a little about the disparities that you saw when you were playing.

Yeah. So like I had a kind of going back to what I was saying before. I had a really interesting, kind of weird situation. Cause I went into college, very highly recruited. and because of my injuries and stuff, when I came out the other side, I was not a highly recruited, you know, professional player. And I went from being someone who was always.

Top considered written about all that to be in someone that was scraping for opportunities. So I feel like I felt that in so many different ways and it felt that also in the opportunities I had, you know, I didn't have the chance to play on the best overseas team. I had the chance to play for a really great team that was playing in champions league, but they were fighting.

I was fighting. so you know, felt that, you know, sort of emotionally and where I stood within the team and sort of within the soccer world, but then you also really feel that. Obviously in the environment when I was in the UK, you know, we didn't have a trainer, we didn't have a physical therapist. We didn't have a team doctor.

We didn't have, you know, someone to tape your ankles, which like I had gotten very used to someone taping my ankles and all of that sounds like, okay, you're fine. But you know, I had a minor injury when I was over there, slightly strained, my LCL, really small, how they been at Stanford, I would have been out maybe a week.

You know, they would have taken me up. They would have done, I honestly would have done all the stuff they do. I was out for a month and I was trying to do it myself, but I didn't have the care. I didn't have the taping. I didn't have the brace. I couldn't see the doctor. They couldn't, you know, prescribing medication to play through it.

Like there was, you know, all this stuff that you get really used to that just doesn't let you like train at the level. You need to train to really be the best you can be.

Well, as someone who always dreamed of playing professionally and you achieve that goal, I imagine it was really difficult on the other side of it to give up playing professionally. You kind of just hinted at what some of the thinking was in that process. But tell us a little bit more about what led you to no longer playing professionally.

Yeah. that it was probably like, just being honest, probably like the darkest year of my life. I, so, you know, what had happened and with me as I had played a fifth year at Sanford and I had a six year of eligibility, I decided to pursue that. So it didn't enter the draft one is to pursue it.

Draft happened a day after I found out that my, I don't actually have that six year of eligibility, there was a paperwork error my freshman year. So I lost that year. So I went in, I had to try out for the Washington spirit, which, just. You know, the NWSL is hyper hyper competitive for so many reasons, but it is, you know, they already draft more players and will be allowed in the league, not allowed, but then rosters.

So when you're coming in as a, Hey, give me a chance player, especially, you know, to the East coast, they don't have Scouts that are, you know, coming out to the West coast to watch Sanford's game. Most of our games are not televised. You know, exposure really becomes a problem. So I feel like for me, My professional career never really got started the way I wanted it to.

And I became my own worst enemy. I, you know, continued with having some bad luck with injuries, but I've really come to believe. Like for me, it was like my Headspace. Like I. Just got negative. It became an uphill battle. And I lost a lot of like the love and joy I had around the game. And I think that's just like such a bad spiral.

and I still think I was performing at solid levels. I don't think I was tapping into like really my peak, but I was performing at all levels, but I had lost all love and joy and. everything became hard and everything became a challenge. And I was struggling physically with some injuries and stuff.

And honestly, it was a little bit of, you know, being in that bad head space and having this opportunity at a startup that I was really excited about at striver and kind of just made the job and, what followed was a year of an identity crisis.

Wow. And so you just sit on it, you know, prior to launching just women's sports, you worked at STRIVR the virtual reality training platform. They just announced $30 million in new

Yes go guys.

sense it's yeah, it's the quintessential Silicon Valley startup. tell us a little bit about that experience and what it was like working in that environment.

That company was like, that was a great, great experience. You know, Michael Derek, all those guys, like they still, like, we still stay in touch and like, they've been really helpful with just women's sports, which I feel like is like, kind of like the dream, you know, you want like people that you can like work with sort of for life, which is like, awesome.

I had studied virtual reality in school. I did my masters in communication at Stanford and worked in the VR lab. So like, this was my dream job. Like, this is what I wanted to do. you know, we were at the, when I first joined, we're really focused on sports. So we were working with football and you're starting to like work with some soccer teams, which like.

That was like the dream for me. Like we had some conversations with like some pretty big clubs and I was like, just absolutely loving it. but it was like a great experience. I mean, it's my first job and I learned so much and I always tell Michael and Derek, like, I'm sorry that I was such a pain in the ass.

So pain in the bite. Like I, cause I was always like questioning and like trying to learn and push and just really believed in what we were doing. So it was just maybe a nuisance to them, but it was a great, great learning experience.

Yeah. And I've gotten to know some of your friends that as driver through my travels, I think you guys were working with the Rangers at one point when I was at Madison square garden. And that was, I mean, a really cool experience to like, see what it's like to be on the ice with Lunquist

Yeah. Yeah.

cool experience.

So I'm, I'm curious, you know, the company's obviously evolved quite a bit and you were there in some of those early phases, as a venture backed business as a company that's going out there raising capital, growing that quickly. What were some of the hardest things for you to learn being, you know, at the ground floor and then seeing a company grow and evolve like that?

I think the, the hardest thing that I think striver did, or the hardest thing for me as someone that like had my heart in, it was moving away from sports because that was the right business decision to get into enterprise. and I think the product is just as if not more effective in an enterprise enterprise landscape.

So it was absolutely the right business decision, but. I think that was hard, at least for me, who's like, just love that intersection of technology and sports. And I imagine it was hard also for the founders who, you know, have the football background as well. So I think that was like a hard thing to realize that, you know, sometimes you gotta let go of like, What you want and what you love for like, what's smart.

it also, you know, I was like employed number 30 or something. So I was not early, early, but pretty early considered, especially now they're growing like crazy. but also just realizing, you know, from the outside looking in, I was like, wow, striver, like, that's crazy. You know, when you're talking about this 30 million round of funding and all that, and just realize that, you know, Everyone's just trying to figure it out.

Like startups aren't like this, like, you know, it's just real people that are just like hustling and figuring it out. And not honestly, that realization is what led me to be like, I can do this. I can figure this out.

no, it's it's so, I mean, you've touched on too. I think really, really great points there. One, which is just that, which is, I think from the outside, it seems like this black box and then you get in there and it's just like, you know what? You solve one problem, and then you have another problem and you solve that one and then eventually.

You just realized that your whole job is you find a problem and you solve it, that's it, that's what a startup is. And initially you IPO one day, right? And then there's a whole another set of

It's just like that. Yes.

and, and, the other point that you made, which I really love and is something that Tim and I talk about a lot on the show, it's this idea of like, The sports tech company, right.

And, and sports tech companies, you know, what we tend to realize is like, there is a little bit of a ceiling on how big they can get, right? How many professional teams aren't there, maybe 150 in the U S and obviously some overseas. and then what can you charge them for a solution? I mean, you guys are probably a pretty high level solution.

So maybe he was, you know, in the hundreds of thousands or even tens of thousands, but then you hit a cap and you realize there's only so many that we can serve. And you do exactly what STRIVR did, which is realized, Hey, this technology, which had a lot of value in sports. Also can help a lot of people in a lot of different ways.

So I think that's, that's something we ended up talking about a lot. you know, one of the things I'm curious about, and I know you were there for, you know, obviously 30 is still pretty young, early, what, what's it like as an infant employee when you're in there? and you're going through that shift and you're going through that evolution and then also going out and raising funding, like how, how does that affect your day to day and sort of your, your role in terms of like, What you're doing, but then also what you're presenting to investors.

You know, I, I wasn't involved in the fundraising conversations, but, it is weird to when you're pivoting as a company to be like, You know, on one hand, you're sort of working on the solution that's been working that has gotten the business to this point, but then sort of planning for this big pivot. I think that is like a, I give Derek and the team a ton of credit for it managing that, especially because they hired a bunch of people that love sports and saying, Hey, this is still really critical to the business, but yeah, let's all go this way.

And I think they did that, you know, I think they did that really gracefully. Like I don't think that's easy. 

Yeah.

so let's dig in a bit on just women's sports, the company you founded towards the end of last year, tell us what it is and what led you to start the company.

Yeah. So the really quick summary is that 4% of sports coverage is dedicated to women's sports and we think that's crazy. So our whole goal is to change that.

so, Oh, sorry. yeah, no. So, so let's, let's dig into that idea a little bit. Obviously the, the, the vision is there actually, you know what, let let's do this. Let's take that question again. Cause I think we want to set you up to like, tell us a little

Do the spiel. Yeah. Cool.

Yay. The founding

Sorry guys.

that's why I was a little bit cut off. I'm

Well, I didn't know if it was like a quick and then a followup shot was my bad

No. Tell

no, no, no. All good. All

the, the whole,

Okay. All Ron to run it back.

pitch. Give us the pitch.

So let's dig in a bit on just women's sports, the company you founded towards the end of last year, tell us what it is and what led you to start the company.

Yeah. So the really quick summary is that 4% sports coverage is dedicated to women's sports. And our whole goal is to change that, you know, for me, it was really my experience playing professionally. That led me to just women's sports. You know, I was in DC, I was in the UK. I was in Seattle. And, you know, even at Stanford, we were selling out stadiums.

You know, attendance was up, viewership was up, investment was up there's new brands getting involved. There was just so much positive the momentum in this space and it, it didn't seem unique to any one team. It was, it was all over. and then when I did, you know, leave the women or twirled and joined striver and was working in tech.

There was just genuinely no way to follow the space. And, you know, I had heard that 4% number. I knew that, you know, there was a lack of women's sports coverage, but that was the first time I like really, really felt it. And, you know, I loved soccer and I wasn't in that world, but I wanted to be a part of that world.

I wanted to follow my friends that were playing or, you know, playing different sports. I wanted to follow the lead and I just really, really couldn't. And that didn't make sense to me. It didn't match my experience and I felt like. This is a time like someone's going to do this. Like, let's go, let's go capture this space.

Let's go capture this energy. I'm like really do this, right?

Yeah. And it's interesting because, Like Jay was kind of talking about earlier with some of the challenges in starting a company, specifically in the sports vertical and how limited it can be. You know, media is definitely different in that regard and there's plenty of sports, media opportunities out there.

I'm an investor in sports, media companies, myself. What's been kind of your pitch with investors as it relates to taking on something that certainly deserves. Coverage needs coverage, but then also positioning in a way that gets an investor excited about its growth potential and, and what kind of an investment it could be.

Yeah, while you're putting me on the spot right now. you know, for us, like, I, I think, you know, when you say the word like deserves and stuff for us, I don't think, you know, I think for a long time there's been a case around. No women's sports is almost like a do gooder thing. Like we should, we should care about it.

It's the right thing to do. And like, I frankly just say that's total BS. Like I think women's sports is dope. I think these athletes are like total badass women. I think the games are awesome. Like, and that's what we are leaning into. Like, if you don't like it, that's fine. You shouldn't, you shouldn't like it for any other reason that then you like it.

So I think for us, like, I really believe we're sort of the first organization to approach women's boards was sort of like a realness. Like we all genuinely appreciate these athletes and the sports, and we want to cover the space in a real raw and authentic way, which I don't think that's ever been done before.

I think these female athletes have been boxed into. You know, either basically they're people throw a pink and glitter at them and make them, you know, role models for young girls, which they are, and that's important, but it becomes boring to tell the same story over and over again. And frankly, I think it's really, really limiting, you know, these are complex people with like full lies and full stories and to just box them into, you know, what's your favorite color?

How did you overcome that injury? Like that just becomes redundant and I'm interesting. Or on the other side, I think we see basically, frankly, you know, more traditional media brands, just try and plug them into a playbook. That's worked for men's sports. And the reality is, you know, women's and men's sports.

They're just different. They really are. I don't think one is better or worse, like this honest opinion. I just think they're different. I think you watch a women's soccer game. It is different than the men's soccer games. You know, you can call out things that might make it better or worse, but I just think it has to be treated as its own unique things.

Athletes seem to be treated as female athletes cause they are, you know, they're, it's different. so I think like a big thing for us is that our approach to the whole space is very different than I think anything that's been done before. And I think in part of it, you know, we're just trying to authentically sort of cover the world in the community.

I also think like a real advantage for us is. Had a brief and unsuccessful professional soccer career, but I met a lot of women women in this space and, you know, the women's sports world is very small. So we've had, you know, we have brought in the athletes, we have a lot of, we have tremendous access to this world and we've brought in a lot of athlete partners to sort of, you know, help us build, help us grow, help us, make sure our content is real and reflective of the space.

so I think that's also been a huge advantage. You know, we say. We basically, you know, we've waited for traditional media to cover this space. Like we can't wait any longer, we're going to do it ourselves. And like, we mean that, like we're trying to bring the athletes into sort of cover the space themselves and cover it the way they want it to be covered.

I think your question was around how big is this opportunity? I think it's like really massive and you know, people push back when I say this sometimes, but I saw a number that said basically men's sports media is projected to be like a $90 billion industry. And like 20, 21, I think women's sports can be just as big, if not bigger.

I think we give it a real shop and like really give it what it needs and invest in this space. Women control the majority of the spending. Like you're telling me this can't be a huge space. So, I don't know, I'm throwing a lot of shit

no, that's really powerful. And you know, I think you bring up a really good point and it's really exciting to hear you say, like, you know, this isn't just some, Oh, social good. Or like not something people truly care about. I guess then. The question I have is more around how much media has changed, right?

Because even like ESPN model has changed so much since it, it first started and now it's just really predicated on live rights, you know? And, so for you in thinking, you know, what are some of the ways that you've started to test and trial and how are you approaching media coverage differently with that in mind?

Yeah. I think like this evolution of media makes this opportunity possible, right? Like we don't have the resources right now to buy a TV channel, but we don't need to. Right. Cause there's a ton of social media and there's more popping up every day, which is, you know, for better and for worse. but you know, We started as an Instagram.

Like that's how this whole company started. I don't like at the time, I really didn't know anything about Instagram or social media. Like my personal Instagram is just photos of my dog, but I just started reposting, videos, like women's sports highlights on Instagram and it. Totally like just took off.

and I mean that sincerely like no hacks, no anything I like learned about hashtags, like halfway through this process, like, you know, like I was like total amateur hour here. And that to me was sort of, you know, the proving point that I'm not the only one that wants to see this. I think this is interesting and gets excited about this.

So when we kind of, you know, when we initially sort of raised funding and stuff, we consider, do we really focus on Instagram? Do we kind of go more of like an overtime player or something like that? Like, what do we want to be? And what I've come to really believe is 4% of sports coverage is nothing like it.

It's nothing, you know? So I. I don't think we have the luxury of being channel specific. I don't think, you know, I think some of these new social media companies that have popped up like an overtime or the athletic they're able to go super deep on a channel or, you know, at the athletic really premium great writing, because I think, you know, you know, the world, right?

Like ESPN Bleacher report, like. They do a lot of the heavy lifting. Like if I say, you know, a pitcher on the Dodgers, you know exactly what I'm talking about, you know, it's the mob, you know, the Dodgers are like, you might not no the name of the pitcher, but like you, I can, I can place you in that world.

Right? Like with women's sports, like if I say the Washington spirit, you know, a year ago, people were like, Would it be basketball, softball, and WSL, like that's, you know, that's the women's professional league, women's professionally or really like, you know what I mean? So like we just realized how important it was that we have to build the world of women's sports.

So for us, We felt like we couldn't just exist on Instagram. We couldn't just exist on Twitter. We couldn't just be a website or whatever. We really wanted to go across channels and sort of start to lay the foundations of the women's sports world. We want you to know the leagues and know the teams, start to know the characters and the storylines and the drama and all the stuff that makes it interesting.

But we think we have to sort of reach out and meet people where they're at right now. Basically what the goal to eventually, you know, bring them in. But so we've gone total. Totally. Like we're across channels right now, which is a total headache, but, I think it's important for us.

Yeah, no, you're, you're touching on something that I think is a real challenge. And we discussed this with Megan Klingberg, who was on the show recently, and she shouted about this idea of like the personalities. Right. And we see this, we see this in the NBA, especially, and you know, much, I think. More differently than the NFL, where it's so much more team in the NFL.

The NBA is about the players and, you know, people, LeBron from the calves to the heat, to the Lakers and they're LeBron fans. And there's a real, I think, interesting opportunity from that media perspective that I think you just touched on right there is make the people feel real. Make make them feel like three dimensional human beings that have the right aspirations and look, I mean, that's a lot of, I think the crux behind what Tim and I are doing with this show.

Right. Which is, it's not just about what you're doing, you know, in those 90 minutes, it's also about the stuff that you care about outside. So I think there's a tremendous opportunity there. What I'm, I guess a little bit interested in understanding is on that spectrum, you mentioned a couple of different, media outlets, right?

The athletic on one end and ESPN on one end. And then maybe there's, you know, a bar stool in men's sport or there's a ringer. When you look at what's already out there in the men's, you know, brands or just sort of the broad sports brands, what do you feel like you're closest to? Or is there even a parable that you're closest to?

Yeah. Yeah. well, can I just back up really quickly? I just wanted to comment on the personalities. That to me, like I say this all the time, like, I don't think women's sports has a product problem or a content problem. I think they will marketing problem. And you know, I, and that's really where we want to fit in.

And I think that's sort of what I was touching on before, when we force these women to be, you know, what we think a female athletes should be or should represent. We make it uninteresting, you know, like we want the drama, we want, you know, Megan Rapinoe celebrating the fifth goal in the world cup and people debating that like that is sports, you know, like why do we Rob women's sports of all of that, that makes it so rich and interesting.

So I totally agree, like making space for these, you know, athletes to be themselves and to be complex people like that's really important. And I think that's the direction of sports media and like we're a hundred percent leaning into that. When I think about where we want to exist, you know, sort of in the landscape view, I say this a lot.

I think the ringer is probably the closest comparison where we want to go. I also say we really want to be like a crooked media of women's sports. I, you know, I think for us, We're gearing up right now to launch our first podcast. I really believe that audio is going to be a big, big part of our future.

I think it's a great medium to, you know, it's, it's lower costs and video, right. But you hear the voices, you hear how they sound and how they think and all that. And I think that's really, really important. and I think just, you know, we can still continue to build the world with our website and our social channels, but really being audio first.

that's great. That's great to, and I think those are actually really great aspirational brands to, to look to as, as I think that beacon, but tell us a little bit more about that growth plan. So you mentioned the audio side, which I think is great. Tell us about the products that are already out there. And if you can, a little bit about, you know, what you're hoping to build in as part of this.

Let's look, let's call it a community right beyond just a media brand. What are you trying to build with this community?

Our big, big vision is I think women's sports is open for the taking, like we want to own women's sports. Like. If you want to watch women's sports, if you want to think about women's sports, we want to debate it. If you want to know what's going on, you go to just women's sports. We are everything you need to see a no in women's sports.

We're on every channel. Like where are your go to? that's like a really big vision of where we want it, take this. and I think that means sort of different things per channel. If that makes sense, we felt like, you know, We felt like it's really important that we have our brand, we have our voice, we know what we're about and what's important, but that we also are making the user experience like the best user experience per channel.

We want to create content that is, you know, Instagram for Twitter, first website, first newsletter first. so the approach is a little different depending on the medium, but, you know, overall we know, you know who we are and what we want to represent on each channel.

So one big challenge that there's no way you could have anticipated was the fact that basically all sports globally had hit the pause button

Yeah.

a global pandemic.

Yup.

you know, what's that been like for you and how have you gotten creative in finding other ways to create relevant content?

Yeah. So. You know, for us a big part of what we do is the athlete features and interviews. So we've just been really leaning into that and just, you know, talking to our friends, how are you training right now? How are you managing, what are you hearing from the leagues? You know, and there's, you know, coronavirus has impacted so many, so many people, so many different ways, and I do think it's important to have those conversations.

So we've just really leaned into. Our friends, you know, and just trying to feature them and tell their stories and sort of using this pause where there's not sort of a lot of noise and women in sports more generally to sort of share some of these stories, introduce some of these athletes. I also think for us, and this is a little bit of a weird thing to say, but maybe it's like turning lemons into lemonade, having sports beyond pause.

You know, we jumped on a treadmill that was going right, like a hundred miles an hour. Right. And having sports beyond positive, it almost feels like we've been able to sort of take a step back and like really think critically about what we're doing and optimizing our processes and like, you know, deciding key hires and, you know, it was going so fast.

We went too fast and we've really tried to use this time as a chance to like, All right. What do we need to do? How do we prepare? What hires do we need to make for when you know, when sports come back on, how are we going to be really, really ready? So,

Yeah. Yeah. And so coming back to, I guess, on the idea of, you know, building this business and the biggest thing that we can be, we know for a lot of entrepreneurs fundraising, Is one of the toughest things that they go through. And you mentioned that even while you were at a startup before, you weren't necessarily part of the day to day fund raising process.

So tell us a little bit about what that experience has been like for project that, you know, on one hand is solving an important gender equality problem. And then on the other hand is kind of, you know, early product with, you know, minimal monetization, right? So what's, what's the feedback that you've been getting.

What's that experience

yeah. You know, so we, We raised a pre seed round. And we were basically considering raising our seed round. we had our first conversation, like two hours before the NBA decided to cancel their season. So we decided to cancel our fundraising, so bad timing there, but you just, some of them, some of our initial conversations, we tend to, you know, it tends to go kind of like one of three ways, you know, the first way is media.

Sorry, not touching that. Which is fair. I'm like, that's okay. You know, especially in Silicon Valley, you know, we, right now, we don't have a specific innovation on media, so it's like not touching that. Fair enough. another book it is, you know, sometimes we really get stuck at like sort of the first part of the conversation, which is, are women's sports valuable?

Do people care about women's sports and. You know, admittedly that has sort of evolved, you know, I think we've, I think the momentum is like hard to ignore right now, but I still get stuck in conversations where people are like, you know, women's basketball will just never be as big as men's basketball or, you know, women's sports is a capped opportunity.

I mean, I just think that's shortsighted, frankly. And I I've learned with those conversations, like I'm not going to change their mind on that. So I I've learned to kind of just let those go. but we've gotten a lot of really positive feedback. I think people are really. I think we're starting to see the shift in women's sports.

We're starting to see that there's something happening here. And I just think it's inevitable that someone is going to go on this. Someone's going to go do this. So, you know, I think it's, yes.

That's great. That's great. Well, you know, speaking of that attitude, so this next question is not for me, but it's from our mutual friend. Jordan cuts there, and Jordan, Jordan tells me Haley's a true warrior. Her confidence in her ability to work through any problem is what I love

Oh, wow. Wow.

what he wanted to know, what he wanted to know. Was, what is your mindset like when you finally decide to take a chance on yourself and start a company and become an entrepreneur? What are the, what are the things that you have the doubts that you have to fight through to then basically go ahead and take that step to become an

Yeah. I think something I've learned that I really struggle with, and I struggled with this in soccer, as well as just confidence and like belief. I really struggled with that in soccer. And I think part of it is being like a perfectionist, like nothing is ever good enough. You know, you score two goals.

Why don't you score three? And I've taken that attitude a little bit into work as well. so I've. You know, I think what's been done different about this experiences. I really, really believe in these women that we're covering really genuinely think they're just dope athletes and like absolute bad-ass is.

So I think sometimes it's, maybe it's a cheat, but it's easy to, you know, if I have doubts too, I remember, you know what we're doing and like the opportunity around this, So that's been something that I've really leaned on, but I also think, you know, I didn't think this journey would just film in sports would be like such an opportunity for like emotional growth.

And I really had to like spend time working on myself and, you know, being like, no, like. I am the person to do this. I have to believe in myself. What we're doing is valuable, you know, not treating every mistake, like a deathblow understanding, you know, is something goes good and not great celebrate that.

How can we make a great next time? Which is all the lessons I wish I would have applied to soccer. I'm like trying to apply it now to my business.

Yeah, it can be easy to caught up in doing something so perfect that you end up never doing it at all. And when you're building a company, that method doesn't really work too well because you've got to make that daily progress.

Yeah. Yeah. And like that, that is like my biggest lesson. Cause like, You know, you want to launch with something that's like, perfect. You know, but you can think about it and you could put together business plans that you can do all the research you want, but like you just don't know until you test. And so like, my biggest shift is like, I've had to get comfortable with being like, it's not all the way there, but we're going to test, you know, because sometimes you think you have the right idea and it's totally, totally wrong.

And so it's like, Oh my gosh, it was just dumped all this time into something that's like a total width. So yeah, that's, that's been a huge lesson.

Yeah.

well, I'll tell

something that we, Oh, sorry, go

no, go ahead. Yeah.

I was gonna say that that's, that's something that we actually preach a lot on the game plan, where we talk about the importance of sort of listen to customers and we feel like a lot of entrepreneurs, they sort of just jump into something. And you're, you're actually taking it the other way, where you're saying, look, I'm taking a sort of methodical approach and I'm trying to understand like how we build this for the long run.

One of the things that we love to hear when our guests are on the show and they're telling us, they're like, Listen to your customers, go talk to them, go reach them, survey them, and they'll tell you what they want. They'll tell you that they're hungry for your product. And as investors, like, that's the best thing that we can ever hear, which is just, it just points to that like methodical mindset of like let's test.

Let's see what they like let's experiment. And then we'll find the right answer by experimentation.

Yeah, which is not easy to do. Cause like it's your baby. So you want to put something out that's like perfect and super reflective of like your vision, but like, it's just, I've just learned over and over again. Like that is just absolutely the wrong approach. Got to get it out. You got a task, got to get feedback and keep going.

So you've got so much in front of you. What would you say you're most excited about going forward?

I am really, really pumped about this podcast we're putting together. I think it's about to be really, really awesome. We got some amazing guests. We have an amazing house. I think it's about to be like very real honest conversations about, you know, the journey of being an athlete in women's sports. And, you know, obviously, you know, we have all this stuff that like, Any athlete goes through.

Right. But also I think there's a lot of stuff that in women's sports that we don't talk about because we don't talk about women's sports. So I'm like really excited to have those conversations and like touch on, you know, topics or just things that happen in life that we don't think about when we think about sports.

So I'm thinking this about be really cool.

that's awesome. That's really exciting.

That is amazing. And I guess on the, on the flip side of that, you've shared so much great advice with us today, just in terms of both your journey as an athlete, but then also your journey as a founder and entrepreneur, as you think about other athletes who maybe are out there wrapping up their collegiate careers and are in a similar position that you were, whether it's thinking about pro or thinking about, you know, doing something.

Outside of the game. What is advice that you would have for them, or what was the advice that you'd have for your younger self? to be able to enact today?

Oh, this is going to be so, so cheesy, but, you know, touching on like the confidence thing, it's like just, self-belief like, I think my biggest advice, like, and I mean, I'm so early in this process, so I don't feel qualified to give advice at all, but. If I must, like my, the biggest thing, like I think about is like, just go for it.

Like, you have an idea. Like, if you can, if you're in that position, like just go for it and learn and mess up and making mistakes and just have the confidence and self belief to keep going like that. I mean, that's the same thing in sports, right? Like you just keep going, you play the game, you put yourself out there, you make a mistake.

It's the next one. It's the same thing in business. And that's been the hardest lesson for me. It was. The reason soccer fell apart for me. And I've been like really consciously being like, no, this is a mistake that I made that I will never make again. Like I will keep going. I will keep pushing. It will keep fighting.

It will keep believing and I'm just gonna go for it. Cause that's all you can control is yourself in your attitude. So like just stay positive and go. I don't know if that was annoying, but.

no, look, it's not, it's not corny at all. I'll tell you this, for Tim and I, who are very much in the same sense of like starting something from scratch, this is a thing that I think we keep saying to

Yeah,

forth, right. It's like, we just, we gotta keep going. We gotta keep going. We'll figure it out.

We'll figure it out. And I think it's, it's a little bit of like, The cold start problem. Right. Just getting started is such a block for people. And if there's something that, you know, your experience or even our experience can, can help say, it's like, Hey, just the ball starts rolling. Right. You get a couple of months in, you have some episodes out, you have some people listening.

I don't think it's corny at all. I think it is absolutely such an important thing that like for anybody who's listening, the tools are out there for you to take your ideas. And turn them into something and you're doing that and we love to hear the enthusiasm that you have for just women's sport. I mean, it's, it's incredible.

So, one, I want to thank you again for joining us one. Thank you so much for being honest and vulnerable and sharing your stories and your journey with us. And we just can't wait to see where you go from here. So thank you so much for

Yeah. Thank you so much for having me. This was so fun.

Thanks Hayley.

That's great.