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Global Sport Innovators Venture to Adidas HQ

Part 3 of 3: Winners of the Global Sport Venture Challenge meet with the global brand for a formative experience
August 13, 2019

At the center of the Global Sport Institute’s mission is “to support interdisciplinary research and innovation that examines critical issues impacting sport and all those connected to sport.” We have remained strongly committed to the pursuit of inspiring innovative thinking to positively shape the future of sport. Our work in the space is best exemplified through our venture funding opportunities and partnership with ASU Entrepreneurship + Innovation and Venture Devils.

Our two main venture competitions are the Global Sport Social Impact Challenge (GSSIC) and the Global Sport Venture Challenge (GSVC). The first challenge was created to support cultivated ideas that positively change the world using sport as a platform. Whereas, the second challenge is designed to help ASU-affiliated entrepreneurs grow their early-stage, sport-related product or service ventures. Winning ventures from each are eligible to receive grants and guided mentorship through our partnership with ASU Entrepreneurship and Innovation. In addition to the chance to compete for seed grants biannually (each fall and spring semester) on ‘Demo Days,’ students pursuing this track who become ‘Demo Day’ winners also qualify for a coveted chance to win a trip to the adidas North American headquarters in Portland, Oregon for an immersive experience. 

Venture winners along with partners at ASU E+I look on as they hear about adidas’ unique partnership with the Global Sport Institute and ASU.

 

Our 2018–2019 winners took their trip in early June with a total of three teams spending two full days at the adidas Portland, Oregon campus. Trip highlights included a behind-the-scenes tour of the national headquarters, one-on-one coaching sessions with adidas executives matching their interests, and a guided “creator experience” in the adidas Makers Lab.

Two of the three selected ventures surrounded our 2019 academic theme of ‘Sport and the Body,’ while the third focused on a traditional regarded international sport looking to grow and break into the U.S. mainstream sport market.

To learn about their time with adidas, we asked each venture to share a little bit more about the valuable takeaways from the visit. Below is our Q & A with one of the three winning ventures, Keep the F.A.I.T.H, from JustKTF group. 

Photo courtesy of Keep the F.A.I.T.H, KTFGroup.

 

  • 3rd place winner at 2019 Global Sport Summit. Awarded a trip to adidas, North American HQ.
  • Bio: JustKTF is a player development program committed to improving young athletes physical, emotional, and well being. Through partnerships we provide services and resources for psychological, educational, financial, and compliance needs.

Our readers know the basics from your organization’s bio listed above, but can you shed light into the beginning stages of how you founded Keep The F.A.I.T.H. to fulfill a gap or need?

I founded Keep The F.A.I.T.H. (KTF) in 2008 from a personal experience that I saw needed a remedy, but I only jotted the ideas or issues in my note section in my iPhone. Since then it has always been something I wanted to implement but needed funding and the time to do so. The concept of KTF came from being a former athlete. Prior to me attending a division one school, neither myself nor my dad were familiar with the recruiting process. I was being highly recruited but never knew what being a student athlete entailed.

Nor did I know the magnitude of preparation for life after sports. Too frequently, athletes engage in bad behaviors that damage their reputations. There are news headlines repeatedly mentioning players, coaches or athletic departments who are facing violations or misconduct. Hence, there is a need to have adequate resources and guidance into player-engagement from personnel who can provide essential tools and framework to sustain player well-being on and off the field. The best way to prepare for adversity, which is anything that threatens a player’s development, is with an innovative strategic plan.

Keep The F.A.I.T.H (Fighting Adversity in the Hardships) is a player development program committed to improving young athletes’ physical and emotional well-being. Young players will be provided a benchmark for their development, where they should be, and how to cultivate growth through the program’s four pillars; psychological, financial, educational, and compliance. Through partnerships, we will provide services and resources that will effectively influence athletes in those four areas of need. The outcome will be to empower, educate, prepare and develop the youth to be future leaders and sustain life after sports. 

At what stage of development would you categorize your venture in and why? (Concept, Start-up, Growth, or Late-Stage)

KTF is in the start-up stage of development. My business plan was finally created when I procured my Masters at Georgetown. I used some of my personal savings to create my images. Now as a current law student, I secured funding from ASU E+I and GSI to form the business file entity and legal papers. I also filed for a federal trademark for Keep The F.A.I.T.H.

Now that the program is formed I need to build the web-based interactive platform for members to create a profile and have access to resources and tools the program provides for development. The program will be heavily based online so the reach can be global, targeting middle-school aged kids and their cohorts such as parents, guardians, coaches, trainers and mentors. On the web-based platform, members can have interactive lessons that educate them on financial literacy, amateurism (how to be recruited and the do’s and don’ts of recruiting), behavioral skills (warning signs of mental health, depression, bipolar, etc.) and learning skills (negotiating and logical reasoning). We are in active talks with brands for partnerships for each of these pillars. 

How has Global Sport Institute and your trip to adidas impacted your venture’s journey? 

Taking KTF to Portland opened the door for more growth within the program. I was given the opportunity to travel to a city I have never been to, to speak with adidas executives, and to have one-on-one meetings with executives and associates that provided insight and feedback on how to strengthen the program.

It was good to hear and see the individuals that were placed in the room with me were also former athletes and went to big power five schools. The discussion even got so personal that the adidas executives shared their personal experiences of being student-athletes. It was a great dialogue and it was perfect to hear that others had a similar journey, emphasizing further the importance and necessity of this program.

It was almost like a mini focus group. An executive shared his withdrawal transition from being a student-athlete to transitioning into a career after sports. He said that all he knew was playing the sport, and when you get to college you’re playing with other elite players, you may not be considered not as an elite of player as you thought you were. You may not start or you may lose playing time. Because of that you may face psychological issues. Self-doubt. Depression. Insecurities. But how does one cope or manage those issues? This can play a major role in a player’s development in detriment and not growth. This discussion allowed us to deep dive into possible strategic planning on how to educate younger athletes on these issues, developing them as they go further in their journey with or without the sport.

The trip also impacted KTF with the “adidas village,” and its exemplary sports family. I looked at the trip as if I was a prospective student-athlete on an official visit. We were shown where adidas’ professional athletes would experiment with their products in the science lab to the brand center where the apparel is arranged in store displays or for future apparel lines. It felt as if I was at home and could see a future for my program members to be affiliated with the adidas family. The welcoming has impacted KTF’s journey because adidas is a partner I would like to align with my program. The transferability of brand association would be a major move and KTF could use it as a recruiting tool to procure more members. Moreover, adidas, could procure more following through our program whether it be the players or parents. The sooner we can enhance visibility on the youth, the faster the brand attachment they will have early on. 

Founder, Ceci Shell, used her personal savings for the graphic imagery above after obtaining her Master’s from Georgetown. Photo courtesy of Keep the F.A.I.T.H, KTFGroup.

 

What was your biggest takeaway from your visit to the adidas, North American HQ campus? 

The biggest takeaway was creating a t-shirt in the adidas Makers Lab. KTF started with creativity and innovation at the heart. Just from my brief talks with executives during my trip, they mentioned to me that creativity was a major core value to the company. At first, I was very bummed that I couldn’t place my logo on the shirt, but just like life, things happen and you must find the alternative that will get you the same result.

I was already wearing a black shirt that had a red stripe on the front with white letters “JustKTF.” I noticed red heart patches that were iron-on and decided to cut those into a stripe shape to place on a white adidas shirt in the same manner it was on my already made t-shirt. Once I cut those up and placed on shirt, I found letters that I could use to write “JustKTF.” I mimicked my previous shirt the exact same way but more creatively by utilizing the material that was given to me. It ended up being amazing! I loved it and the executives loved how I could be creative and use what I was given to make something so cool… and that’s what it’s about! If life hands you lemons, make you a lemonade! And I did just that! I can truly say I went to adidas HQ and created a t-shirt in the same lab where they design all their products in stores now. The shirt was so cool that I wore it to NBA Summer League games in Las Vegas and many people wanted to know where I got the shirt from and I shared the story! Now, that’s marketing…people want to purchase one and now I have them attached to my brand and even more, the adidas brand.  

KTF Group, creator & founder, getting creative in the adidas Maker’s Lab making a tee that cross pollinates with the three-stripe global brand. Photo courtesy of Keep the F.A.I.T.H’s official instagram: @ktf_group.

 

How do you plan to capitalize on the connections made or things learned from this experience to reach your goals?  

I plan to capitalize on the connections I made by following-up with all the executives I met in my on-on-one consultations. They all had insightful feedback and suggestions that I plan to implement; such as creating a YouTube channel. Their stories help shed light that a player development program such as KTF and learning skills are key to a young player’s development. Moreover, I plan to continue to maintain the relationship with adidas to secure them as a future partner with KTF. 

Room for anything else you’d like to share? 

The only other thing I would like to share would be when the door opens for you, take advantage of the opportunity. The door may be opened for one reason, however, that may not be the sole reason. There could be more. So, my advice would be exploring it and capitalize on the resources that are given to you , create your own lane, and Just Keep The F.A.I.T.H.

For more on Keep the F.A.I.T.H, visit their website. 

Do you have a business idea that can change the world of sport? For more information on how to participate in the Global Sport Institute’s biannual venture challenges with ASU Entrepreneurship + Innovation, visit the Global Sport Institute website, or check out the links below:

https://entrepreneurship.asu.edu/launch/global-sport-venture-challenge
https://entrepreneurship.asu.edu/launch/global-sport-social-impact-challenge