By day Russ Scibetti is a rising star in the analytics world of Sports Business. As President, KORE Planning & Insights and Founding Editor, TheBusinessOfSports.com, the Arizona State and Rutgers grad works with teams and companies of all sizes to better use data to drive their business intelligence strategy.
However one passion project Scibetti has championed is #SBWeek, a global series of sports business networking events designed to casually bring industry parties of all levels for some drinks, and snacks and a night of personal interaction. Held this year the week of September 11, the events will also have a cause marketing element, with the minimal entry fee of $5 going to The V Foundation for Cancer Research.
We caught up with Russ to find out more about this year, and how #SBWeek became a hit.
How did the original idea for SB Week come about?
Several years ago when I still worked in Philadelphia, I wrote an impromptu post on my site about being in NYC one evening and seeing if anyone wanted to meet up for drinks. We had eight people attend, and had a nice hour or so of conversation with folks we hadn’t met before. So I did it again a couple months later with more notice and more people came. Each time we did it in NYC, more folks came and then friends in other cities wanted to do the same thing. Eventually it made sense to try and coordinate them all at the same time, which became Sports Business Night and in turn Sports Business Week.
Walk us through the growth year to year.
In New York specifically, we quickly went from 8 people to 40 to 80 to 100+ each time. As far as cities, once we started coordinating them, we had 14 cities in 2013, 31 cities in 2014, 39 in 2015 and 50 last year, and over the year’s we were also able to add cities in several other countries
This year, we’ll likely have less cities, but we still wanted to keep the overall initiative going and keep growing the cities that we do have participating again.
This is a passion project for you. How long does it take and why do you continue to do it?
Sports Business Week does take a decent about of time to coordinate and promote, but I really believe in this industry, networking is incredibly important, so I love being able to create something that helps others advance their career. The fact that we can do it while also supporting a great charity is even better.
What are some of the causes that have been helped through the years?
At first we changed the charities each year and we’ve also had some local one-off events with different charities, so we’ve helped Team Rubicon , Good Sports , The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and UNICEF . The last three years, we’ve established a relationship with The V Foundation for Cancer Research and we are working with them again this year. Over the last two years, we’ve been able to raise over $16,000 for them, and we only ask for $5 per person to participate in #SBWeek17.
Are there one or two networking stories that stand out from all the events?
I’ve heard some anecdotes about how people were able to connect that ultimately led to new job opportunities. I’ve also met a ton of folks myself over the years that have become good friends, including folks I may have only know via social media before meeting face to face. The best story may be the first – one of the original eight was Joshua Duboff (@joshuaduboff on Twitter) and he was really enthusiastic about the idea of these events, suggesting that we should do it again. Ultimately that helped pave the way for how this has grown
We talk a lot about the value of showing up. For people on the fence or think their skeds are too full, how important is showing up vs. Social interaction?
It is incredibly important. This is such a small industry that knowing a few more people and building those relationships through quality interaction could easily be a difference maker down the road. I know everyone is busy, but you’re talking about giving up a couple of hours vs. making genuine connections with new people and the value they can have in your network, so it definitely worth it.
You have a day job with KORE Software. Tell us about that and how it has grown as a business?
KORE has been around for over a decade, creating business management software for sports and entertainment organizations to maximize the value of CRM, data warehousing and business analytics. We’ve had a lot of success over the years and now work with more than 100 teams, which is fun because we have this great community of customers that all have different challenges and push the products in different ways.
In addition to the software, we just created a new division of the company called KORE Planning & Insights that can provide business intelligence consulting services across any combination of software products for teams, leagues, colleges, theaters and more. I’m going to me leading this new division, which I’m quite excited about.
How do you balance the business work and staying immersed in all else around you?
I actually try not to look at them as two separate things. Especially in the data, analytics and technology space, the only way to stay on top of things is to stay immersed – it’s essentially a prerequisite for the business itself. For me that means attending conferences, using social media, reaching out to peers at teams and league offices and running my blog/events, in addition to my “day-to-day” work with our customers around CRM and analytics.
Lastly, what are the expecting for numbers and backgrounds of those who will be at all the SB week events this September?
It’s probably too soon to tell – my guess is we’re end up with around 30-35 cities by the time #SBWeek17 starts, and we usually get great turnouts. The size of the audience depends on the city – some get 50-75, others draw 100+, and we always get a great variety of backgrounds and experience levels. We really do try to encourage people across the entire industry to participate. You can learn more about the event at www.sportsbusinessweek.com and via the #SBWeek17 hashtag on social media.