Story


Background

I’ve been an athlete for as long as I can remember.

Sport has taught me the impact of intentional leadership, the collective power of the team, the freedom of discipline, the fruit of adversity, and the beauty of human connection. Sport is a stage. An athlete’s peak performance is temporary, but the stage of sport provides the potential for athletes to make an eternal impact, when they leverage this stage beyond their ability to perform.

My M-O is simple. I want athletes to use the stage of sport to set the stage for the rest of their lives. I want them to use all they’ve learned to become the best possible leaders and change agents in our society.

If you go to my LinkedIn, you’ll see that God has blessed me with the opportunity to be the Founder & CEO of INFLCR, as well as the Chief Innovation Officer for our parent company Teamworks. I’m proud of the impact that our team of more than 130 employees, many of whom are former collegiate student-athletes, are having on the sports industry and ultimately, on the lives of athletes. We are the operating system for the athlete.

Elite athletics organizations at the college and pro levels, buy our software to enhance the lives of their athletes. The Teamworks app helps athletes manage their life off the field or court, and the INFLCR app is what they use to build their brand on social media so that they can manage and monetize their personal name, image and likeness (NIL) business.

I’m also an active investor, board member and mentor, focused on helping companies create impactful products and services for athletes.

I love “my job”. God had a plan that brought me to find my purpose early on and it lead me here.

Growing up in Syracuse, New York, sports were a huge part of my life. I had some success on the baseball field and basketball court at my alma mater Christian Brothers Academy, which led me down south with an athletic scholarship to play D2 college baseball at the University of Montevallo (UM). 

Despite my big dreams to get a shot to play pro ball like some of my close friends at UM, it was the failure to reach my goals on the field that created my path of it. God has redirected the passion, discipline and character that I learned from being a collegiate student-athlete, to guide me in every role He’s blessed me with today. I fell in love with entrepreneurship because of my natural desire to create and impact others.

I started my first business in college, an audio-video streaming solution that morphed into a recruiting network for high school athletes and college coaches to connect. NextSpex was my first startup experience that I literally cut my teeth on. All of the highs and lows of entrepreneurship that I could never have experienced from any business course or MBA, all seen in a five-year journey straight out of college. At the same time I was learning my way into adulthood, getting married and building a family with my wife Yazmin, who is not only an amazing mother but also a successful entrepreneur in the beauty space.

My exit from NextSpex came in 2010 with a long list of mistakes that I wore like a badge of honor. I was blessed to connect with a man who would become my mentor and business partner, Forrest Walden. Together we took a gym that he had started in his garage, and built an amazing team that worked together to grow it into Iron Tribe — a national fitness brand with 47 locations franchised across the U.S., in markets like Seattle, Denver, Milwaukee, Houston, Atlanta and Miami, amongst others.

As Iron Tribe’s President, Forrest freed me up to create and innovate. After almost seven years of building a national brand together, I was ready to build something new. I had no doubt that I wanted it to be in the sports industry, serving my favorite group of people – Athletes. I’ve always been a risk taker, but this was a risk so big that even my wife and father (my two closest advisors) questioned me about. We were having success at Iron Tribe and I didn’t even know exactly what I was going to build, how it would work or even what it would be called.

But, I knew that I had built up enough equity with Forrest (literally and figuratively) to negotiate a buyout for my Iron Tribe stock in late 2016, which provided the financial resources to begin building what would become INFLCR (pronounced Influencer). As I traveled for the next six months, processing my vision with anyone who would listen, I learned that collegiate athletic programs were not empowering their student-athletes to build brands on social media and I also new that the 2015 NCAA v. O’Bannon case ruling made it very realistic that student-athletes would eventually be able to profit off of their name, image and likeness (NIL). 

I knew this was my chance.

In late 2017, with the University of Kentucky as our first client, we launched the INFLCR app to help student-athletes build bigger brands on social media. The timing was perfect with the amount of eyeballs and attention that were flocking to student-athletes on social and the looming rumors that student-athletes would one day be able to monetize their NIL. INFLCR grew past 100 college athletics partners, 700 college teams and 30,000 active student-athlete users in less than 30 months, leading to our March 2020 merger with sports tech titan Teamworks.

As two products under one roof, we have majority market share in college and pro sports, with more than 4,000 collegiate teams paying us annually for our software systems, providing our technology to more than 150,000 student-athlete users on our platform, and as of July 1, 2021, student-athletes can now profit from their NIL, positioning INFLCR to be the central solution for these student-athletes to build their brand value and their NIL business.

The pandemic impacted all sports organizations with layoffs and fewer human resources, but an increased digital presence. It has forever changed the sports industry. Showing that it has become crucial these organizations adopt technology in every part of their operation. 

This is a big opportunity for Teamworks and INFLCR as tech platforms, and I continue to chase this down with our team. 

As I do that, I am also proud to be the co-founder of the GLOW beauty on demand app with my wife, Yazmin. Building two companies while raising our three children, Savanah, Sofia and James, makes for an interesting home life, but we wouldn’t change a thing.

So, what’s my biggest lesson learned so far? IT’S ALL ABOUT THE PEOPLE. Surround yourself with great teammates, cast a vision of clarity and go win TOGETHER.

– Jim