Jim is a serial entrepreneur who has launched a new brand (INFLCR) to equip innovative college athletic programs with critical social media tools to empower their student-athletes to be brand ambassadors on social media. You can learn more about Jim at jimcavale.com or by following him @jimcavale on social.
INFLCR Founder Speaks at First College Sports Analytics Program In America
Being able to discover, interpret and communicate data is everywhere we look in the digital age. Analytics is not only a word for Google, but everywhere you look, especially in sports. The ability to not only discover statistics but interpret their usefulness and communicate it to others can be game-changing in sports – from a “Moneyball” approach to team management to building a market for an individual, team or product.
As the Influencer (INFLCR) brand grows across the nation, founder and CEO Jim Cavale is taking time to speak to some of the best and brightest minds in the world of sports analytics. Cavale was invited recently to give a presentation at the Samford University Center for Sports Analytics, part of SU’s Brock School of Business in Birmingham, Alabama – the only sports analytics program in U.S. higher education.
Cavale shared with these sports marketing students how INFLCR aims to organize, equip and develop the brands of college athletic departments and their teams, by leveraging technology to streamline a partnership with their student-athletes on social media. The INFLCR software provides a CRM database to organize social media and data for college athletics programs and then helps these programs equip their student-athletes with their internal content, to improve the brand of both the student-athlete and the team.
“I see a problem when it comes to, not just sports, but brands in general on social media not being connected to their brand ambassadors. Teams work on distributing content and messaging for their team’s social [media] accounts, but what about the recruits? What about the current players? What about their key alumni? They represent their team as well, right? I wanted to build something that will help teams protect their brand but also grow their brand,” Cavale said.
“We’re here to give them a strategy, including content and messaging, that we’re already investing in our videographers and photographers to shoot. In your school’s case, Samford athletics has videographers and photographers out there shooting content, how can we aggregate it into one place and assign it to individuals who can use it on social media to grow their personal brand while also complementing Samford’s brand? That’s what our technology streamlines.”
Sports brands are the daily market for these sports analytics students, led by Dr. Darin W. White, executive director of the center.
This is a program that is producing sports analytics projects for the Southeastern Conference, Minor League Baseball, the NBA and the Miami Dolphins, among others. They have also worked for companies such as Nike, Adidas, Honda, Blue Cross Blue Shield and more.
Cavale shared that this need is growing each year to study the impact one player or team’s post may have on themselves, their team and their sponsors – especially as social media grows to include live video.
“The player and the team is becoming more of a broadcaster every day,” Cavale said. A good example of this, which Cavale shared, is Pittsburgh Steeler wide receiver Antonio Brown (@AB84) posting a Facebook Live video in the team’s locker room following a playoff win over the Kansas City Chiefs in January 2017. Brown was fined $10,000 by the Steelers for violating the NFL’s social media policy. But as Fortune reported the previous summer, Brown, fresh off a “Dancing With the Stars” appearance on ABC, was one of many professional athletes and celebrities Facebook is paying to use its product in front of his 676,000 followers. That price was later revealed to be in the “high six-figures,” a financial win for Brown and boost in exposure. Deals such as this, and building a following on social media, are just one way athletes have potential to leverage their platform to think beyond ball for life after sports.
Jim Cavale: Yellowhammer Radio Network Interview
In this interview, Jim Cavale, INFLCR founder and CEO, discusses his entrepreneurial journey and his passion behind founding INFLCR.
Eddie George: Faith, Family, and the 3E’s
Heisman Trophy winner, All-Pro running back, entrepreneur, sports analyst, philanthropist, teacher, author, actor, husband and father are all words used to describe Eddie George, who has excelled just as much off the field as he did on the field during his time at The Ohio State University and in the NFL.
Influencer (INFLCR) founder Jim Cavale caught up with George at his son’s football practice at Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville to discuss winning the 1995 Heisman Trophy, and advice for others, including the 3E’s of his post-football career (entrepreneurship, entertainment, education) and his four pillars of life: the physical, the spiritual, the emotional, and the social.
Ever since walking on campus at The Ohio State University, the social pillar – who you surround yourself with – has been a key for George. A native of Philadelphia, George moved from Abington High School to Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia before his junior year. At OSU, similar to his time at Fork Union, his playing time was sparing until his final two seasons.
He says surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals is one of the most important, especially in today’s culture of social media. It also plays perfectly into how he became the Heisman winner, an NFL great and all that has followed.
“The social really defines who you are, whether you have mentors that are older than you, wiser than you, more money than you, more knowledge, or you’re mentoring someone else,” George said. “There’s a give-and-take you have to have. You have to be a conduit to receive knowledge, wisdom, and information and giving your mistakes and so forth and filtering that through to someone else.”
As a senior in 1995, it was a core group of teammates which pushed George to set the Buckeyes’ single-season rushing record with 1,927 yards and 24 touchdowns to win the Heisman, what he calls the greatest team award given to an individual and a title that is forever.
“I was fortunate enough to be around a great group of guys that worked extremely hard and pushed me every day and challenged me every day,” George said. “We would compete on a daily basis … That competitive environment helped me win the award.”
George was drafted in the first round by the Houston Oilers in 1996 and played eight seasons with the Oilers and Tennessee Titans, including the Titans’ Super Bowl appearance in 2000. By the time he closed his NFL career after one season in Dallas, George compiled 10,441 rushing yards and 68 touchdowns.
From day one though, George knew his career would come to an end. That is why he returned to Ohio State to earn his bachelor’s in landscape architecture in 2001. He began his first business in 2003, his eighth season in the NFL, as co-founder of landscape architecture firm EDGE.
“I wanted to use my celebrity, my status, and my network to help me develop a business and build an enterprise and become an entrepreneur,” George said.
In today’s world, he knows that celebrity status includes social media – a tool George says must be managed by filtering your content to make sure it’s authentic and true to yourself.
He says he has uses his 3E’s approach (entrepreneurship, entertainment, education) to pursue his life after ball.
He recognizes that building a successful life after sports can be difficult for some because the results aren’t as instant as they are in football.
“Often what is happening is guys get discouraged, and they say it’s not working,” George said. “The key is to stay persistent at all costs. That’s the driving force -- persistence and faith. You’ve got to walk with that, and you’ve got to have a strong faith in God, a strong spiritual will to get you from point A to point B within the next level of your life because you’re not going to see the small victories often. You have to continue to
Lewis Neal: Investing Early In His Future
Using the wisdom he’s learned from being raised by his grandparents, Lewis Neal has been paving his way to success since high school. Growing up in Wilson, North Carolina (population 49,000), Neal used his first offer from North Carolina State to gain more offers. After decommitting from Ohio State University, he landed at LSU, where he was a four-year varsity player and two-year starter at defensive end.
“I’ve always been self-motivated,” said Neal.
For Neal, the motivation went and still goes beyond football. He took an AVID college prep class while at James B. Hunt High School, where he says he was forced to read Dave Ramsey and learned to start thinking about investing money. After seeing limited playing time as a freshman at LSU, and again as a sophomore, Neal said he began thinking about what he would do if he didn’t see the field. He began using his self-taught business skills to day trading on the Foreign Exchange and purchased a barber shop near campus, Hair Factory of Baton Rouge. His entrepreneurial spirit as a student-athlete was noticed and spotlighted nationally by the Washington Post.
“I always wanted to be innovative and create my own way so that’s what I did and everything just fall into place,” Neal said.
Once he started building his success off the field, his opportunities came on the field. It didn’t come without failures, a lot of work and sleepless nights, Neal said. He finished his LSU career with 47 games played and 24 consecutive starts to end his four years. He had 118 total tackles, 17 for a loss and 12 sacks.
Following the focus of being self-motivated, Neal pursued a spot on an NFL team after going undrafted in 2017. He signed as an undrafted free agent with the Dallas Cowboys, where he has also built relationships with developers during his time as a student-businessman.
Through this, Neal is active on various forms of social media with accounts on Facebook (@LewisMNeal), Twitter (@ImBallinNeal18) and Instagram (@ImBallinNeal18).
“I try to use my brand and my platforms to keep inspiring those people who do great in life. You never know what life you can impact,” he said.
Neal recently visited with Influencer (INFLCR) founder and CEO Jim Cavale on the streets of the French Quarter in New Orleans for an INFLCR athlete ambassador interview. The two discuss Neal’s upcoming business projects (Foreign Exchange trading algorithems, a patent for 360 video and more), as well as Neal’s dream to one day own a professional sports team, as well as advice for current student-athletes to look toward their future:
- Don’t let your school use you, use your school/platform to your advantage.
- Make connections
- Create yourself as a public figure now
- Find what you like and don’t like and how you can make both better
- Be inspirational to build a great brand
Jim Cavale has been an entrepreneur since college, when he co-founded a sports TV/Radio streaming network for his university, and then created a product to sell to other universities to help them stream their sporting events. Since then, Jim has exited multiple businesses, most recently selling his equity as President of Iron Tribe Fitness (http://irontribefitness.com) after more than six years in which he helped lead the brand from one gym in Alabama to more than 40 gym locations across America from Seattle to Miami. He is a three-time INC. 5000 entrepreneur who has recently founded two new emerging brands in the GLOW beauty on demand app (http://theGLOWapp.com) and the Influencer (http://INFLCR.com) SaaS product that empowers brands to partner with their brand ambassadors on social media. Jim is a published author with Entrepreneur Press (https://www.amazon.com/B-S-Guide-Brand-Building-Direct-Response/dp/1599185334), has spoken on stages of all sizes and publishes content regularly at http://JimCavale.com
Cole Cubelic: Universities Need Athletes, Athletes Need Universities
Athletes have been able to leverage their role as a college football player for decades, but some student-athletes have been left trying to figure out life when the game is over.
Former Auburn University offensive lineman and current ESPN SEC Network College Football Analyst Cole Cubelic believes that is where things need to change.
In this Influencer (INFLCR) athlete ambassador interview INFLCR founder and CEO Jim Cavale chats with Cubelic about the relationship and role between conference, school and athlete off the field with topics such as player payment, insurance for life, bartering each other’s brand and using social media.
“There’s a big time barter taking place between brands, colleges and athletes,” Cubelic said. “They both need each other. You may be on one end or another of this one deserves more, this one deserves less, and however you want to negotiate that in your own brain is fine, but the reality is they both need each other to survive and to flourish.”
Cubelic recognizes that when he graduated from Auburn in 2001 with a degree in communication studies and was hired on his first job interview in pharmaceutical sales. The hire was made because the guy knew Cubelic’s name as an Auburn starter, not because of his qualifications or grades in chemistry or biology – he never took those courses in college.
“The platform that college athletes have gives them the capability to do things that regular students or other people who are not college athletes the ability to do after school,” Cubelic said.
The key is learning how to use that platform, which has increased with social media. Cubelic says the amount of playing time doesn’t matter, if you’ve worn the helmet and jersey, you have a step up than the average person.
One of Cubelic’s earliest memories of a student-athlete using social media to enhance his brand was the use of an ESPN live chat by then Virginia running back Tiki Barber (Watch Tiki Barber’s INFLCR interview) in 1996. Barber, who went on to play for the New York Giants, was one of a few nationwide to participate in the chat, which Cubelic believes helped increase his national name recognition.
“He understood how to utilize that tool and that weapon when he was in school,” Cubelic said. “I remember thinking how do those guys even know what that is to do it.”
This was a time when a live chat was cutting edge, long before the days of Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook.
Today, Cubelic sees the value of social media use, especially Twitter, as host of a weekday morning radio show, The Cole Cubelic Show, and as a member of the ESPN and SEC Network broadcast team.
Cubelic says he believes universities have a great opportunity to teach student-athletes about using their platform and how to use their various tools, especially social media.
“I think there is an opportunity right in front of schools and the athletes for further education,” he said. “(If I’d had social media) there’s no way when I was 18, 19, 20 years old that I would really understand how many people were going to see the things that I was going to put out there and how cautious I probably needed to be with what I put out there, and then most importantly how I could have utilized that to better myself after I was finished playing for that university.”
He believes providing that education through means such as Influencer (INFLCR) will provide a recruit edge for coaches.
“For a coach to be able to sit down and say, ‘this is the plan we’re putting in place for you after you’re finished here,’ that goes further than ‘I’m going to get you to the NBA,’ ‘I’m going to get you to the NFL,’” Cubelic said. “This is something that we’re going to help you build, we’re going to take care of, we’re going to make strong and you can take it with you.”
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Tiki Barber: All-Pro In The NFL and Tech World
Being an All-Pro running back in the NFL was not Tiki Barber’s dream job. Microsoft, or another computer programming giant was Barber’s goal until the New York Giants called his name in the second round of the 1997 NFL Draft.
Barber graduated high school with a 4.0 grade point average, played football at the University of Virginia on an athletic scholarship. When he stepped foot on campus, he wanted to be an astronaut, but then found his way studying management and information systems (MIS). The former ACC Player of the Year went on to spend 10 seasons with the Giants, where he set more than a dozen franchise records before retiring in his prime, one year before the Giants’ victory in Super Bowl XLII.
“I was very comfortable walking away from the game when I did because my dreams were going elsewhere and my passion was going elsewhere,” Barber said.
He says it is serendipity that his path took him to New York. The shy boy from Blacksburg, Virginia, who was born premature, was now in the middle of the media capitol. This led to weekly media appearances and host opportunities to help land his first post-playing endeavor as a correspondent on NBC’s Today and an analyst for Sunday Night Football.
But he realized just because media was a common post retirement career for pro athletes, it was not his dream.
Born premature, along with his twin brother Ronde, Barber says he and his brother were always taught by their mother to be their own person, never what someone thought you should be.
“As you get older and you turn into a really good athlete, that’s how people want to define you,” Barber said. “My mother wasn’t going to let that happen.”
In 2012, Barber and business partner Mark Gerson founded Thuzio, an online marketplace for talent booking. A second business, Julius, followed as well as authoring his autobiography, Tiki: My Life and the Game Beyond, and a number of children’s books. He remains in broadcasting as co-host of national CBS Sports Radio show “Tiki and Tierney” with Brandon Tierney.
Barber, a father of six, hopes others realize the same message his mom taught him as they begin their careers, whether it be in professional sports or the finance world.
Influencer (INFLCR) founder and CEO Jim Cavale, a lifelong Giants fan, sat down with Barber at his New York City offices to hear more of his story and his advice for young athletes, leaders and entrepreneurs. In this conversation, Barber gives advices for those pursuing a college athletics career today:
- Have confidence in yourself and learn to be sociable
- Use the access your name will get you to engage with alumni
- Be a self-starter and take initiative
- Think about social media with a purpose to tell your story
- Know your market, your followers on social media
- Have a plan
Follow @TikiBarber on Twitter and Facebook or on Snapchat at tiki.barber.
Jim Cavale has been an entrepreneur since college, when he co-founded a sports TV/Radio streaming network for his university, and then created a product to sell to other universities to help them stream their sporting events. Since then, Jim has exited multiple businesses, most recently selling his equity as President of Iron Tribe Fitness (http://irontribefitness.com) after more than six years in which he helped lead the brand from one gym in Alabama to more than 40 gym locations across America from Seattle to Miami. He is a three-time INC. 5000 entrepreneur who has recently founded two new emerging brands in the GLOW beauty on demand app (http://theGLOWapp.com) and the Influencer (http://INFLCR.com) SaaS product that empowers brands to partner with their brand ambassadors on social media. Jim is a published author with Entrepreneur Press (https://www.amazon.com/B-S-Guide-Brand-Building-Direct-Response/dp/1599185334), has spoken on stages of all sizes and publishes content regu