This week, I was invited by Kevin Washington, Director of Player Development, to go talk to the University of Texas at Austin football team about what it takes to get a business successfully off the ground. This was part of UT’s commitment to exposing athletes to opportunities outside of sports and giving them the tools and knowledge to seize those opportunities. What a wonderful program and what a wonderful group of people!
It was on short notice, so I sat there the night before trying to figure out the best way to get some key considerations across in the time that I would have. And then it hit me. I pulled out an old PowerPoint deck that I had on how to put together a successful pitch deck for VC’s. All the things that I looked for when I was evaluating companies were the same things that any savvy investor will look for… which are the same things you need to consider when thinking about starting a new business.
Come Wednesday evening, I found myself before 75 assembled and expectant Longhorns. My fellow presenters were former NFL’ers turned entrepreneurs Mike Griffin and Brian Orakpo and former UT basketball alum and Hat Creek Burger Co. founder Drew Gressett – all super guys who served as an inspiration for the assembled Longhorns. After a very kind intro by Kevin, we each took turns presenting to the team and then regrouped for Q&A and parting words.
Many of you know the drill that I went through with the team… define your solution, understand your market, understand your competition, understand your financial numbers, etc. But I think the most important point that I pushed on them was that success in business comes from the management team. When we were investing in companies, that was always the most critical component that we looked at. As a founder, you will have certain strengths, but you will also have certain weaknesses. So pick team members that are strong where you are weak. And most importantly, pick carefully and pick team members with integrity. Because the team that you surround yourself with will determine your success or failure. Guess what… the Longhorns got that and appreciated it.
My parting words of encouragement to the team resulted in claps, finger-snaps and cheers, so I think we did something right! Their experience and discipline on the gridiron will serve them well in their business endeavors down the road. What an exemplary group of scholar-athletes. And what a pleasure it was to present to them. Thank you Kevin. Go Longhorns!