The Latest from The Lab: August 21, 2018

Here's a recent snapshot from our ecosystem. If you want updates like the one below to land right in your inbox, please subscribe in the upper righthand corner of this page. We're grateful for your involvement!

 

Peyton Manning x Will Day Documentary

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A project that has been in the works for the better part of a year is finally being unveiled this weekend. We hope you'll tune in and celebrate with us!

Last fall, fine arts painter Will Day (whose studio resides in the heart of Black Lab Sports) was commissioned to portray Peyton Manning's window of success with the Denver Broncos on canvas. Day ran with the challenge. First meeting Manning at Mile High Stadium, then putting paint to canvas over the next several months, Day ultimately created a masterpiece called "Omaha" that wowed us all. A documentary capturing the journey, challenges, and interactions between Day and Manning is airing this Saturday, August 25, at 6:00 p.m. on Denver's Channel 9 (NBC). Don't miss it!

This project captures the essence of Black Lab Sports. We connected our local NFL team to our resident artist, and used our Media Lab to document the journey. Their collaborative effort is now being broadcast on tv, and the finished painting is on display at Mile High. It's a win for Will, it's a win for the Broncos, it's a win for the Media Lab, and it's a win for Black Lab Sports.

Friends of Will Day and Black Lab Sports are invited to a celebratory watch party: 5:30 p.m. this Saturday at Black Lab Sports. 

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Techstars Startup Weekend Recap

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The Lab was full of ThinkerDoers last weekend, thanks to Techstars Startup Weekend Boulder and Grow with Google. The event, which attracted dozens of participants, mentors, and volunteers, was a "3-day long sprint to launch new products and services that solve real-world problems."

Between Friday evening, when 36 ideas were narrowed down to 10, to Sunday evening, when final presentations were made, participants were incredibly productive. They developed raw ideas into pitch-ready startups, applying input from local mentors along the way. 

Congratulations to the winning Flick Books team, whose goal is to make reading more interactive and engaging for youths. And thank you to everyone who supported these budding entrepreneurs in some capacity. We had a blast and hope you did too!

 

SFIA Industry Leaders Summit is Coming

The Sports & Fitness Industry Association is heading to Denver next month for the 6th annual Industry Leaders Summit. Spanning September 26-27, it is a great opportunity to become informed, learn from high-level decision makers, and network with individuals from across the sports and fitness industry. We have a small block of discounted tickets, so let me know if you're interested in attending.

 

Calling all Trainers!

Black Lab Sports is growing in all directions. Part of that growth entails a search for more independent trainers to join us. If you know of or work with a trainer that might be interested in joining our ecosystem, please help us spread the word.

 

BLS Growth Division Update

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Last week, our Growth Strategy Division launched the new iSplack.com. As the brand moves to expand on its product suite to bring to market a full line of natural skin care products for performance athletes, the Growth team has worked with the iSplack and Madwire teams to build a recurring revenue model, as well as launch a new eCommerce platform. Stay tuned over the coming months as new products are added to the lineup and some exciting new brand partnerships are announced.

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And soon after, the Growth team launched the new Onxsports.com. They worked with the Onx crew to completely refresh all content, design, and UX to build a full custom site designed specifically with the combat sports industry in mind. Onx believes in a curated experience for the customer as well as the trainers they use and gyms they work out in. Hence, they sought to build a site that fosters the integration and growth of Onx's Ambassador network. Besides, who doesn’t want their own set of fully customized gloves?  

 

JP Morgan Chase Holiday Event

Save the date! On November 15, for the second consecutive year, Black Lab Sports will be hosting the JP Morgan Chase Holiday Kickoff Party. We'll send out more information in the coming months, but we hope you'll be able to join us for an evening of eating, drinking, and socializing. 

 

 

The Latest from The Lab: July 31, 2018

Here are some recent highlights from the Black Lab Sports ecosystem. If you want updates like the one below to land right in your inbox, please subscribe in the upper righthand corner of this page. Thanks for tuning in!

 

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isplack Fundraising

isplack is about to enter phase 2 of the company's growth, and we'll be raising a bridge convertible note into our series B. We’ll be reaching out to existing investors about opportunities. If you’re not an existing investor but are accredited, let us know if you’d like to receive more information.

 

 

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BLS x VaynerMedia

We were excited to spend a few days in LA recently with Gary and AJ of VaynerMedia and VaynerSports. We learned a lot about what they're doing with both the sports and media side of their business and are looking forward to building our relationship with them in the future.

 

 

 

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Techstars Startup Weekend

Next weekend (August 10-12), Black Lab Sports is partnering with Google to host Techstars Startup Weekend Boulder. A three-day crash course in startups, it's a unique chance for future entrepreneurs to learn what it takes and gain valuable experience.

Learn more and RSVP here. Please help us spread the word!

 

 

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Flywheel Update

Flywheel Project's summer of learning and doing continues, with several recent field trips around Denver and Boulder. Here are some of the places they've explored as part of their deep dive into startups and entrepreneurship:

 

 

  • At the new ONX Sports facility in Denver, Flywheelers witnessed how passion and determination helped a combat equipment business grow from a small basement operation into a thriving company. Thanks for showing them around and sharing the ONX story, Limey!
  • The Denver Outlaws gave Flywheel Project a tour of Mile High Stadium earlier this week, while also teaching them about the business of sports through the lens of some of their executives. Thank you for making this happen, Jared!
  • TechStars Boulder offered another opportunity for Flywheelers to see some behind-the-scenes action of various local startups. Managing Director Natty Zola generously offered his time and insights on what TechStars is all about. We appreciate you, Natty!

 

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Ariana to Worlds!

On a personal note, next week I'll be in Moscow to cheer on my daughter, Ariana, in the International Federation of Sport Climbing Youth World Championships. Ariana placed top 5 in Speed climbing at the USA Climbing Youth National Championships earlier this month, earning her a place on the USA Climbing Team and an invite to the World Championships. I'll be out of the office from August 3-13, but checking email periodically.

 

The Latest from The Lab: July 13, 2018

We hope you're enjoying your summer! Here are some recent happenings at The Lab. If you want updates like the one below to land right in your inbox, please subscribe in the upper righthand corner of this page. Thanks for keeping tabs on us!

 

Support Flywheel on Prime Day

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Amazon's annual Prime Day is just around the corner: 3pm ET on Monday, July 16 through Tuesday, July 17. While you take advantage of the great deals, why not make one extra click and donate to a worthy cause at no extra cost?

Simply shop at www.smile.amazon.com and select the charity of your choice. If you're looking for suggestions, Flywheel Project, our 12-week internship program, would make an excellent pick. Click here to make it happen! Thanks, as always, for your support.

 

Google x Techstars x Black Lab Sports

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Black Lab Sports is excited to partner with Google and Techstars to host Techstars Startup Weekend Boulder on August 10-12. Please pass this on to people in your network (like the college students on summer break) that are interested in entrepreneurship and learning how to launch a startup.

Startup Weekend is the best place to learn how to build a startup in one weekend. Through Grow with Google, Google aims to help everyone in America access the best of Google’s training and tools to grow their skills, careers, and businesses.

Entry is free to the first people who register. Learn more and RSVP here.

 

BLS Sponsors SFIA Start-Up Challenge

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The Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) is hosting the 3rd annual Start-Up Challenge in Denver on September 26, and we're excited to be involved! The grand prize consists of an all-expense-paid trip to spend the day with the Innovation Team at Under Armour Global HQ, as well as $15K that will act as a catalyst for the winning team.

All sports and fitness start-ups are encouraged to apply. Find more information and apply now here

 

New Faces in the Coworking Space

Our coworking space has never been about filling desks. It's about surrounding entrepreneurs with the peers and environment they need to thrive, and growing our community of ThinkerDoers. Each newsletter going forward, we'll introduce you to a recent addition to our community. When you see them, please help us welcome them into the fold. First up...

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Mike Green: A performance coach for 20+ years, Mike spends his days in service to his clients' goals and higher performance. He found his calling as an Outwards Bounds instructor and still helps individuals escape comfort zones and recalibrate all over the world. His next adventure is a month-long trip to Alaska, which he'll spend rafting, fly-fishing, backpacking, and more. We're excited to catch up with him after! Connect with Mike here.

We want to give first dibs on the remaining coworking desks to members of the Black Lab Sports community. Find more details here and let us know if you're interested!

The Latest from The Lab: June 25, 2018

Here's what we've been up to lately. If you want updates like the one below to land right in your inbox, please subscribe in the upper righthand corner of this page. Thanks for keeping tabs on us!

 

Experiential Peak Performance Program

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Last week, members of our TPM community had an amazing opportunity to learn all about peak cognitive performance and how to obtain it in any endeavor. Mental training experts Mark Williams (USAF, Retired) and Bill Kipp (US Marines, Retired) led the way, spending the first half of the day instructing in the classroom before taking the lessons to the field for the afternoon. After we'd learned about the mechanics of nervous system regulation, situational awareness, and the optimal performance zone, the ropes course that followed offered a great platform to put our learning into action while under extreme duress. The real challenge now will be to apply our takeaways from the whole course to our daily lives.

I want to thank Mark and Bill for sharing their wisdom and experience with us, as well as those of you who blocked out a workday and endured some serious discomfort in the name of peak performance.

 

Did You Vote???

On a related note, I'd like to share my endorsement for Mark Williams, who is running for Representative to the 116th United States Congress in Colorado’s 2nd District. I've been working with Mark over the past 9 months as he heads up our Cognitive Performance Institute, and I can attest to his character and intentions. It's his real world experience, service to our country, knowledge of human performance, and willingness to stand up to career politicians that has me. Read Mark's story here.

Regardless of your choice, be sure to vote by TOMORROW (Tuesday, June 26)!

 

Flywheel Project Turn 3

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Flywheel Project Turn 3 is under way! For three months, nine ambitious interns from six colleges across the US will receive a fast-paced introduction to startups and entrepreneurship, entailing hands-on experience in The Lab and with some BLS portfolio companies. One of their first challenges was to help me identify ten potential partners in the human performance space. Read more here

 

Boulder Innovation Venture

The Boulder Chamber recently released the Boulder Innovation Venture Report, an initiative launched by the Boulder Economic Council last year. The goal of the report was to capture metrics and stories surrounding local innovation that can be used to elevate Boulder's status as a leading innovation city. 

As part of our ongoing commitment to the Boulder startup community, Black Lab Sports was a proud sponsor of the Boulder Innovation Venture.

 

Coworking Space: Help Us Spread the Word!

There are still desks available at our coworking space, featuring adjustable standing desks, natural light, free parking, and one of Boulder's most dynamic work environments for entrepreneurs.

Find more details here and please help us spread the word!

Flywheel Takes on Human Performance Challenge

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It’s week three for Flywheel Project, and the heat is on! In addition to starting their projects with entrepreneurs in the Black Lab Sports ecosystem, the nine interns from six colleges across the U.S. have already accepted and responded to a time-sensitive challenge from Black Lab Sports CEO JP O’Brien.

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JP kicked off the exercise with a presentation on what the future looks like—from energy and transportation to education and health—and what kind of person will likely thrive in the coming years. Essentially, those who are ThinkerDoers, who maintain a beginner’s mindset, who practice conscious leadership, and who live according to their core purpose will be the ones to adapt and contribute to the rapidly changing world around them.

From there, JP dropped a challenge on the group, along with a strict deadline to complete it. He asked the interns to identify the top ten potential partners for Black Lab Sports, who both align with the Black Lab ethos and who are “really looking to play in human performance” today and for years to come. Once divided into two teams, the Flywheelers had 45 minutes to complete their initial research and report back to the group.

Upon regrouping, both sets of interns got a few minutes to present their early ideas and strategies to each other. When given the choice to remain in two halves or to work as one large unit, the preference was a quick and unanimous merger. Back to the drawing board they went, this time for a mere 30 minutes. This would be the team’s last opportunity to nail down its search criteria, land on ten solid potential partners, and prepare to defend its choices before JP.

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Less than two hours after he made his challenge, JP returned for Flywheel Project’s final presentation. With 15 minutes on the clock, the eight interns took turns presenting and backing up their findings. The main criteria they had used were: Mission Statement (Values and Purpose), Size, and Partners. And the categories they had considered included: Education, Wellness, Food and Beverage, Community / Lifestyle, Sports / Fitness, Technology, Innovation, and Cognitive / Physical Performance. With those as guideposts, the group had eventually agreed on ten companies that they believed would make a good fit with Black Lab Sports’ commitment to pushing human performance, while also prospering in the future.

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In the end, Lacey, Kody, Ryan, Ben, Thad, Karson, Andrew, Blake, and Sophie came together to deliver a thoughtful and convincing presentation. Even with the time crunch and stress associated with public speaking, they were able to synchronize their individual approaches and agree on ten promising partners for Black Lab Sports. The message of JP’s talk was that the future belongs to those who are willing to create it. Based off their first few weeks in The Lab, it appears that this summer’s Flywheelers will be in on the action.

The Latest from The Lab: June 5, 2018

Here's what's happening lately. If you want updates like the one below to land right in your inbox, please subscribe in the upper righthand corner of this page. Thanks for your involvement!

 

Black Lab Sports Studio Reveal

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After a few years of dreaming and a couple months of construction, Black Lab Sports Studio is finally a reality! Complete with a white cyc wall, full-length curtains, private parking, restroom and changing room access, and all the amenities of a professional studio, our massive sound stage will host photography and videography shoots by talented production companies and individuals such as Dallas Barber ProductionsWaypoint Films, and Brook Aitken, as well as set the stage for special events. We have some exciting projects lined up for the months ahead, so stay tuned! For booking requests, email studio@blacklabsports.com.

See more photos of our transformation in this blog post.

 

Coworking Space: Desks Still Available!

Speaking of new elements to Black Lab Sports, there are still desks available at our coworking space, featuring adjustable standing desks, plenty of natural light, and one of Boulder's most dynamic work environments for startups and entrepreneurs. We're renting out desks by the month, so please email Becky if you're interested.

 

isplack at Derrick Morgan's Football Camp

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isplack's Olja Ivanic and Aaron Beach recently had the opportunity to participate in Derrick Morgan's All Pro 2.0 Football and Tech Camp. Along with several of his Tennessee Titan teammates, Morgan offered on-field coaching and motivational speaking to over 125 campers in grades 6-12.

Campers also got a glimpse into emerging technology behind the game, including remote control drones, 360 Virtual Reality, and Play Impossible.

isplack ensured that the campers, counselors, and organizers were all sufficiently decked out in Ice Blue and other Titan-colored isplack throughout the camp.

 

Accelerated Mind Performance Training

The BLS Neuroscience Lab is kicking off its Accelerated Mind Performance (AMP) training on June 12th. Led by cognitive performance experts Mark Williams and Jamie Bartlett, AMP training develops mental resiliency and agility and gives individuals the skills to perform at their peak. For details and to sign up, please go here.

 

Growth Division Launches Wearbands

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Our growth division continues to build momentum, last week launching its second brand, Wearbands: Functional Resistance Training System. Wearbands is a unique fitness product used by some of the world’s best athletes to add resistance training to any sport or fitness activity. Consulting on everything from business strategy to logistics to communications, our growth division has devised a go-to market strategy to be deployed across a multitude of channels and sports.
 
Check out the new Wearbands site to see the new brand identity system and content developed by Black Lab Sports. And for those of you wanting to enhance your current workout regime and get in shape for summer, try the complete system risk-free for 30 days. Use code SUNNY20 for 20% off anything in the store.

The Transformation

This spring has seen a total and exciting transformation of our space. From adding two rooms and a media lab to the warehouse and dividing our big conference room into two rooms, to building out the neuroscience lab and creating a coworking space, we are not what we once were! We're psyched about the people and possibilities that these changes will make room for as Black Lab Sports continues to grow. We hope you're able to see our new look in person, but in the meantime, here are some before and after shots:

Warehouse:

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Media Lab:

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Coworking Space:

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Neuroscience Lab:

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The Latest from the Lab: May 21, 2018

If you want updates like the one below to land right in your inbox, please subscribe in the upper righthand corner of this page. Thanks for your involvement!

 

Boulder Startup Week Recap

As Boulder Startup Week comes to a close, we want to thank everyone who joined us in The Lab, especially our mentors who agreed to be panelists. We were honored to host this year's Adventure Track and psyched to have so many bright and curious people on stage and in the audience. Here are some shots from our five panels and two workout sessions:

 

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How to Launch, Scale, and Survive in the Adventure Market ft. Jeremy Balboni of Brooklyn Boulders and Ian MacGregor of Skratch Labs; moderated by Sue Heilbronner of MergeLane

 

 

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The Adventure Within: Pushing the Limits of Human Potential with Neuroscience ft. Alex Racey (Global Director of Executive Protection and Travel Security, former US Army Special Ops Command) and Joanna Zeiger (Race Ready Coaching, World Champion Triathlete); moderated by Mark Williams (head of BLS Neuroscience Lab, former F-15C Pilot)

 

 

 

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Charting the Course: What Innovations Will Drive Growth for 2020? ft. Trent Bush of Black Diamond and Shelley Dunbar of Sea to Summit; moderated by JP O'Brien

 

 

 

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Prepare for Your Next Adventure ft. Sky Van Horn of Element 6 (pictured)

Optimized Training for Your Next Adventure ft. Brian Briggs, Dane DeLozier, and Matt Smith of Revo Physiotherapy and Sports Performance

 

 

 

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Technology & Adventure: How Does Blockchain, AI, 3D Printing, and IOT Change the Game in the Adventure Space? ft. Kyle Lefkoff of Boulder Ventures and Meridith Unger of Nix; moderated by Justin Bannan

 

 

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Boulder FitTech Meetup moderated by Robbie Jack of Fitbot and Young Kim of Boulder FitTech

 

 

 

 

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New Coworking Space

Our new coworking space is up and running, featuring 22 adjustable standing desks, plenty of natural light, and one of the most dynamic work environments you'll find. We're renting out desks by the month, so if you're interested, please send Becky an email here.

 

 

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Accelerated Mind Performance

The BLS Neuroscience Lab announces the kickoff of its Accelerated Mind Performance (AMP) training, beginning June 12th. AMP training develops mental resiliency and agility and gives individuals the skills to perform at peak levels across every aspect of their lives. For more information and to sign up, please click on this link or refer to the attached document.

 

 Climbing Addicts. Climb Consciously.

Climbing Addicts. Climb Consciously.

Climbing Addicts Launch

Our growth division just launched its first client: Climbing Addicts, which offers eco-conscious colored climbing chalk. They've reimagined the entire Climbing Addicts business, from logo, identity, positioning, website, packaging, and product strategy to negotiating corporate and athlete partnerships with Leave No Trace and paraclimbing champion Maureen Beck.

For the climbers among you who want to minimize the trail you leave on the environment, Climbing Addicts is offering a limited time offer on its 3 color bundle. Visit Climbing Addicts and use code GET1FREE at checkout.
 

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Paintballing with the Green Berets

Ever wondered what it might feel like to square off with a Green Beret? I had the opportunity to go paintballing with ten of them recently, and I'll just say this: their advantage, even while facing twice as many opponents, was almost comical. But what an awesome (and humbling!) experience. 

The Latest from The Lab: April 26, 2018

If you want updates like the one below to land right in your inbox, please subscribe in the upper righthand corner of this page. Thanks for your involvement!

 

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Boulder Startup Week is Coming!

Boulder Startup Week is almost here (May 14-18). As part of our continuing TPM series, Black Lab Sports is honored to host the Adventure Track series. Sessions include:

  • The Adventure Within: Pushing the Limits of Human Potential with Neuroscience, featuring:
    • Mark Williams, Former F-15C Pilot, entrepreneur, and now heading up Black Lab Sports' Cognitive Performance Institute
    • Alex Racey, Former US Army Special Operations Command and now Global Director of Executive Protection and Travel Security
    • Stay Tuned - To be Announced! 
  • How to Launch, Scale, and Survive in the Adventure Market, featuring:
    • Sue Heilbronner, CEO, MergeLane
    • Jeremy Balboni, CEO, Brooklyn Boulders
    • Ian MacGregor, CEO, Skratch Labs
  • Technology & Adventure: How Does Blockchain, AI, 3D Printing, and IOT Change the Game in the Adventure Space?, featuring:
    • Kyle Lefkoff, Founder & General Partner, Boulder Ventures
    • Meridith Unger, Founder & CEO, Nix
    • Justin Bannan, Founder & Director of Pro Advisors, Black Lab Sports
  • Charting the Course: What Innovations Will be Driving Growth by 2020?, featuring:
    • Trent Bush, Vice President of Apparel, Black Diamond
    • Shelley Dunbar, Founder & Owner, Sea to Summit
    • JP O'Brien, Founder & CEO, Black Lab Sports
  • FitTech Meetup
  • Prepare for Your Next Adventure

We want to pack The Lab with as many people as possible, so we encourage you to register here for the sessions that interest you ASAP. Please pass the link on to friends and family who might want to join as well. When it comes to sharing knowledge and building the Boulder startup community, the more, the merrier!

 

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Inaugural TPM Forum

Our first TPM forum on AI, Big Data, and Machine Learning was a success! Thanks to everyone who came and to panelists Aaron Schram, Nate Sammons, and Greg Greenstreet for sharing their insights and framing our discussion. Stay tuned for news on the next forum!

 

Thank you, Trimble!

Trimble, one of Boulder's largest software companies that's doing amazing work around complex systems, sponsored last week's TPM forum. Many thanks to them and to Black Lab Sports mentor Chris Keating of SketchUp for making it happen!

 

Cognitive Performer Summit

As the Black Lab Sports Cognitive Performance and Training Institute becomes a reality, we're trying to be exhaustive in our research and networking in this field. Last week, Mark Williams and I attended the Cognitive Performer Summit in San Francisco, hosted by Dr. Andy Walshe and Logitech. From the vantage point of esport pros, cognitive innovators, and data breakthroughs, we explored ways to support and train those whose mastery is dominated by the cognitive realm. We can't wait to start sharing and applying our takeaways!

 

Dick's Sporting Goods Visit

We recently visited the Dick's Sporting Goods HQ in Pittsburgh to meet with the executive team and introduce them to several brands, including Ball Aerospace, Skratch Labs, and playPORTAL. It was a productive trip all around and we'll continue working closely with Dick's to explore potential options for later 2018 and 2019.

 

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VaynerMedia Partnership is a Go

We're happy to announce that we officially kicked off our relationship with VaynerMedia, a high-level, full-service digital agency. isplack is partnering with a bunch of VaynerSports (an athlete representation agency) clients this summer and is already off and running in preparation.

The Latest from The Lab: April 5, 2018

To help you keep up with everything going on at Black Lab Sports, we'll be posting regular updates from our ecosystem and community right here on the blog. If you want to receive these updates by email, you can subscribe in the upper righthand corner of this page. Thanks for your involvement and interest!

 

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Welcome, Glenn and Sara!

We're thrilled to add two members to the Black Lab Sports team: Glenn Maddocks and Sara Duncan. These two have started our Growth Division and are off to a great start with their first clients: WearBands, Climbing Addicts, and ONX Sports. Say hello when you see them around!

 

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Dynepic Investment

We also want to welcome Krissa Watry, Jacqueline Arn, Jett Black, and Dynepic to Black Lab Sports! Dynepic, our newest investment, is a women owned and veteran owned business, funded by the National Science Foundation, that aims to inspire and safely connect the next generation to the digital world.

 

Flywheel: A Call for Projects

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We're happy to announce that we have 11 interns joining us for the summer session of Flywheel Project starting June 5. They attend 8 colleges and have many different interests, but are all excited to spend the summer here at Black Lab Sports. 

We will be assigning the interns specific hands-on projects so they can both learn and deliver results to our companies as well as organizations outside of The Lab. If you have a project that would provide a great learning experience to our interns while also filling a need at your company, please send details to Michael O'Brien.

Thanks to all of you who helped us spread the word and attract quality applicants. We have high hopes for this next cohort!

 

When UFC, ONX, & BLS Collide

The UFC recently visited the ONX Sports studio inside Black Lab Sports. Take a look at the video that resulted and tune into this weekend's heated rematch between Rose Namajunas (defending strawweight champion) and Joanna Jedrzejczyk (former strawweight champion).

 

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VaynerMedia Partnership

We're currently talking with Gary and AJ of VaynerMedia about becoming a media marketing partner. If you have experience working with them, I'd love to get your feedback and recommendations. If so, please drop me a line!

 

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Boulder Startup Week

We're closing in on Boulder Startup Week (May 14-18), and are excited to host some sessions at Black Lab Sports! Thanks to everyone who has stepped up to participate so far. We're up to four panels and counting, so if you're interested in getting involved too, please email Chris Edmonds.

 

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Wade Competes Internationally

BLS team member Becky Wade is chasing big goals on the global stage this spring. She recently placed 41st (2nd for Team USA) at the World Half Marathon Championships in Valencia, Spain, and is 3 weeks away from racing the London Marathon.

 

BLS Named Innovative Company of the Year

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The Boulder Chamber of Commerce recently bestowed a great honor upon Black Lab Sports when it named us Innovative Company of the Year. Two companies and four individuals received leadership awards, which were presented during the annual Boulder Chamber Leadership Celebration, held this year at the Dairy Arts Center.

This award is humbling and exciting- validation of everything we're building here- and it's something for you to celebrate too, since each of you plays a role in our ecosystem. Thank you so much for your continued involvement. Here are two short write-ups on the award ceremony: Daily CameraBizWest

The Latest from The Lab: February 27, 2018

To help you keep up with everything going on at Black Lab Sports, we'll be posting regular updates from our ecosystem and community right here on the blog. If you want to receive these updates by email, you can subscribe in the upper righthand corner of this page. Thanks for your involvement!

 

The Black Lab Sports Neuroscience Lab Initiative

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Our next big initiative is an exciting one: The Black Lab Sports Neuroscience Lab. Combining leading thinkers, cutting-edge technology, and the emerging field of brain technology, our vision is to lead the current paradigm shift towards brain engineering and pave the way for the next evolution in peak performance.

We'll begin by offering a suite of services and products for improving mental performance, tailoring programs to elite individuals across the spectrum of human activity: sports, business, and the military, to name a few. Then we'll take our learnings from these high-level performers and create an offering for the wider marketplace.  

Mark Williams, an F-15 combat vet and mind training expert, will be taking point on this effort. If you have ideas, technology, resources, or an interest in the topic, we'd love to talk more about our concept and explore how you can participate in this new BLS initiative. Please reach out to Mark: mark@blacklabsports.com

 

UFC Visits ONX Sports

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Last week, ONX Sports had some very special guests visit the studio! Representatives of the UFC stopped by to film the UFC Countdown show in advance of Trevor Wittman-coached Rose Namajunas' big fight on April 7. They spent some time learning about ONX and the purpose behind the company. 

We are on a mission to help people turn their thoughts into reality, and Trevor Wittman epitomizes what that looks like. We couldn't be happier for him and his team, and we're honored to be part of the journey. Big things to come!

 

 

2018 TPM Kickoff

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We recently kicked off the 2018 TPM series, which is a passion project of mine that stands for Truth/Trust, Purpose/Plan, Mindset/Mining. It's all about developing and growing as individuals and leaders. It's part self awareness, part CEO forum, part education, part mastermind group, part practice, part support, part give, part take.

My vision is to grow this community of ThinkerDoers from 100 this year to 10,000 in 2020 and 1,000,000 in 2022. If this sounds like something that might interest you, let me know as we look ahead in preparation for our third iteration later this year.

 

Flywheel Graduate Looking for Next Thing

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Chris Edmonds is wrapping up his stint with Flywheel Project and searching for his next opportunity in the Denver-Boulder area. Upon graduating from Williams College in 2011, Chris worked in finance and technology consulting in D.C. before joining Black Lab Sports as an intern last fall. His main interest is consumer tech and he would love to continue supporting entrepreneurs and working with early-stage companies.

Having worked with Chris for the past few months, I highly recommend him. His positivity and eagerness to learn and contribute will make him a standout team member wherever he ends up. If you're interested in talking with him, or know someone who might be, please connect with Chris here.

The Latest from The Lab: February 12, 2018

If it seems like Black Lab Sports is a little different from one visit to the next, you're right! We're growing quickly and we know it can be tough to keep track of it all. To help you out, we'll be posting regular updates from around The Lab right here on the blog. If you want to receive these updates by email, you can subscribe in the upper righthand corner of this page. Thanks for keeping up with us!

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Help Us Support Flywheel Project

We all use Amazon. But did you know that Amazon donates a portion of its sales to nonprofits through AmazonSmile? Flywheel Project, our internship program with 501(c)(3) status, is an eligible and worthwhile beneficiary.

If you'd like to show your support at no extra cost, go to AmazonSmile and select Flywheel Project. Amazon will then donate 0.5% of every dollar spent on eligible AmazonSmile purchases to our in-house nonprofit. Thank you in advance for your support! 

Flywheel Project Applications

On a related note, Flywheel Project is now accepting applications for summer interns at Black Lab Sports. We're looking for college students and graduates who are interested in film and video production, software development, legal, entrepreneurship, and learning what it takes to bring a brand to market.

Black Lab Sports houses a dozen independent and portfolio companies. This diverse ecosystem is the ideal place to develop an understanding of business, art, fitness, sports, and technology. Our leadership program is designed to provide students with the experience and network needed to thrive in a future career. For more information and to apply, please go to Flywheel Project. If you know someone who might be a good fit, please share the link!

 

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Boulder Chamber Leadership Awards

The Boulder Chamber of Commerce recently announced its 2018 leadership awards, and Black Lab Sports is honored to be on the list! We were selected as Innovative Company of the Year, which "recognizes a business that demonstrates the innovative spirit, creative problem solving, and pioneering approaches to organizational success and industry growth that exemplifies the character of Boulder's business community."

Congratulations to our good friend Sharon Matusik, the Dean of Leeds School of Business at CU, who won the Rising Star Award.

On Wednesday, March 7, from 5:30-8:30pm at the Dairy Arts Center, Boulder Chamber is hosting a Celebration of Leadership 2018 to honor all award recipients. If you want to join in the celebration, learn more about the companies and individuals who were selected, and mingle with members of Boulder's thriving business community, we encourage you to register here today.

 

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Find Us on The 'Gram

We know, we know... it took us a while. But Black Lab Sports is officially on Instagram! We'll be sharing daily snapshots from around The Lab as well as some thoughts on business, sports, art, and more.

Let's connect! @blacklabsports

 

 

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Harig Joins Black Lab Sports

We're delighted to welcome Rick Harig, who works for the St. Louis Cardinals in baseball operations and as a minor league pitching coach, to Black Lab Sports! With over 30 years of experience as a baseball coach for amateurs to pros, he'll be helping young pitchers reach big goals. Say hello and introduce yourself when you see him around!

 

 

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Folwell Receives RAGBRAI Commission

Congratulations to Gail Folwell on her recent RAGBRAI commission! She was hired to commemorate the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, a non-competitive bicycle ride organized by The Des Moines Register and going from west to east across the state of Iowa. Dating back to 1973, RAGBRAI is the largest bike-touring event in the world. We can't wait to see what she creates!

 

 

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Day in Cherry Creek Lifestyle

Fine arts painter Will Day got a nice write-up in a recent Cherry Creek Lifestyle issue: Painting a World of Emotion with Will Day by Kelsey Huffer. Click the link to learn where Will sees his career going and why. Be sure to scroll through the photos of him at work in his Black Lab Sports studio!

The 2017 Black Lab Sports Holiday Gift Guide

Overwhelmed by holiday shopping? Looking for that special gift and out of ideas?

Black Lab Sports has got you covered! We rounded up some of our favorite sports products on the market that we think make perfect presents. Even better, these products are brought to you by companies that we think are worth getting to know. So make a dent in your holiday to-do list, and knock out some shopping with our suggestions below:

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1. isplack: ($8.99) Whether on the field or in the stands, help someone get their colors on with one of 13 colors of high-quality eyeblack. From Back in Black to Power Pink, isplack is the perfect stocking stuffer.

2. IRON GRIP Iron Olympic Plates: (call for pricing) With fully integrated handgrips and a 12-sided design, these Olympic plates are ideal for the lifting enthusiast with home gym aspirations.

3. Soccer Sidekick Training Ball: ($54.99) Shopping for soccer players? Give them the Soccer Sidekick training ball, which allows for game-like passing and receiving with every part of their body—without a partner.

4. Pure Cycles Original Bike: ($329) This best-selling bike combines speed, style, and affordability to create an exemplary riding experience. Choose from several models and colors, and give someone special a gift to remember.  

5. Epoch Lacrosse Hawk Sequel Head: ($99.99) The Hawk Sequel men’s lacrosse head was inspired by Italian supercars and engineered for two-handed dodgers seeking maximum speed, power, and control. Check out the Prequel for the one-handed dodger, and the Purpose for the female player.

6. RAD Roller Rounds: ($16.00) Give the sore, tight, or tense person on your list these three balls (small, medium, large) that offer targeted release for tight spaces. Who doesn’t need a little tension release this time of year, after all?

7. Epoch Lacrosse Dragonfly 8 Lacrosse Shaft: ($139.99) Help a friend or family member take his lacrosse game to the next level with an Epoch Carbon Fiber/Composite shaft (see the Purpose for females). Better yet, combine it with the Hawk Sequel or Purpose head, and gift a winning stick.

8. IRON GRIP Dumbbells: (call for pricing) Help the weight lifter in your life complete his or her home gym with a set of these superior dumbbells. Choose from the Urethane and Solid Steel models, and customize the handles for maximum comfort.

9. RAD Roller All-In Kit: ($140) Unsure which recovery tool to gift? Go for the works! The All-In Kit includes the RAD Roller, Rounds, Rod, Helix, and Block, and is meant for head-to-toe treatment and recovery.

10. CAN-ICE Synthetic Ice System: (call for pricing) Endorsed by Hockey Canada, CAN-ICE looks, feels, and performs just like real ice, indoors and out. Customize the rink size to any space, and make a hockey player or figure skater very happy for seasons to come.

11. Play Impossible Gameball: ($99) Named one of CNN’s 14 hottest toys this holiday season, the inflatable Gameball has a small “brain” inside that connects via Bluetooth to the Play Impossible app. Use the app for progress tracking, score keeping, game playing, and more.

12. Pure Cycles Nightlight: ($9) Another great stocking stuffer, these nightlights add extra visibility and a splash of color to any ride. A set comes with both front (white) and rear (red) lights, and is the perfect addition to a Pure Cycles bike.

13. ONX X-Factor Training Gloves: ($269.00) Engineered by an 18-time world champion coach and worn by two world champion fighters (and counting), these gloves combine performance, protection, fit, and feel to improve performance and keep hand injuries at bay.

 

Gift talk aside, whatever you’re celebrating right now—whether a religious holiday or the start of a new year—I hope it’s a special one, full of family, friends, joy, and reflection.

Thanks, as always, for being part of our community. We’ll see you in 2018!

The Inaugural Black Lab Sports Investor Showcase

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Not too long ago, Black Lab Sports was an empty warehouse and a big idea. We knew we wanted to build something great inside these walls, but we didn’t know exactly how it would roll out, who would contribute, or what shape it would take.

Fast forward a few years to Tuesday, November 13, 2017, at our inaugural Black Lab Sports Investor Showcase. A group of investors gathered in that same space (which is now part of a vibrant ecosystem) to learn about the future of Black Lab Sports and how they might get involved.

Justin Bannan and I set the scene for our guests. We described our successes to date and presented our plan for Black Lab Sports Fund II. We demonstrated why now is a great time for startups and entrepreneurs to enter the sports market, and why our unconventional investment process is working. Instead of taking a product focus, we start by identifying the right founders. Then we surround them with a great team, we invest our time, energy, and money in them, and we coach and develop them to achieve greatness. We understand investing, and with Fund II we will invest in 15 to 30 companies whose founders are what I call Thinker-Doers. Our goal is to set them on a trajectory to do what they love and to provide superior returns to investors.

Next, four founders that operate within the Black Lab Sports ecosystem (and three of which are part of the Fund I portfolio) spoke about their journeys so far. If you want more than the snapshots offered below, I highly encourage you to connect with the founders:

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1.     Aaron Beach (president, co-founder, and COO of isplack): After launching at the 2014 World Lacrosse Games in Denver, the isplack team learned that getting into major retailers was really hard. But they had a product they believed in (high-quality, colored eyeblack) and a mission they felt strongly about: uniting athletes, teams, and fans through color. Three years later, isplack is the #1 eyeblack sold in the US, an Amazon bestseller, and on the shelves of big retailers including Dick’s Sporting Goods and Academy Sports. isplack has a new product line in the works and exciting plans to go global in 2018.

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2.     Trevor Wittman (founder of ONX Sports and an 18-time world champion coach): A former pro snowboarder, Trevor was constantly seeing new innovations on the slopes, but none to speak of in combat sports. He decided to fill that void with improved design and technology. First prototyping more protective gloves in his gym and basement, Trevor recently moved his workspace to Black Lab Sports, where he can be found developing and marketing the next generation of combat equipment. He’s just beginning, but his gloves are already in 11 countries and protecting the hands of two world champion fighters.

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3.     Ryan Woltz (founder of ēdn, Techstars alumni, and SharkTank guest): After a start in a traditional engineering job, Ryan took inventory of his life and reemerged as an entrepreneur. With ēdn, he’s now on a mission to “bring life to where you live” by making growing easy, beautiful, and automated. His world-class and beautifully designed SmallGarden is already making waves in the home gardening industry, and it will soon be joined by the WallGarden and other high-tech, low-stress growing vessels for herbs, vegetables, and flowers.

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4.     Meredith Unger (founder of Nix and a college basketball-player-turned runner): By and large, people are guessing their fluid needs—unfortunately, with little accuracy. Not only is even mild depletion performance-compromising, it can be dangerous. Thankfully, those negative effects are 100% preventable, and Nix is committed to spreading that message and the tools to achieve it. The solution is an affordable and disposable patch-based hydration sensor. From endurance athletes and team players to military members and laborers, Nix has tremendous potential to change the hydration game.

 

Finally, we were privileged to hear from John Peters, one of our executive mentors and a senior director of SFIA (Sports & Fitness Industry Association). All the way from Washington, D.C., John stopped by The Lab to talk about SFIA and why it matters to founders and investors in the sports space. SFIA is the trade association of leading industry sports and fitness brands, suppliers, retailers, and partners. From bat specifications to safety gear rules, SFIA helps sports companies and all of us involved in athletics navigate these important implications. SFIA is also the ultimate source for research data on sports participation, market, and more. Even if you didn’t know it, you’ve probably benefitted from SFIA at one time or another!

That’s a wrap on our first Black Lab Sports Investor Showcase. If you were present for the event, thank you for being with us and expressing interest. For those of you who could not make it or are not already part of our community, we’d love to have you join us. If you’re interested in learning more about our Fund II or any of the founders mentioned above, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Fear vs Purpose - Your Move.

Twitter, social media, and the media in general have become a dumping ground for fear driven messaging. Have you noticed?

The only thing we can ever truly control is our thoughts and how we choose to respond to any input. Inputs come in two forms: externally through our 5 basic senses (sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste), and internally through our 6th sense, our creative imagination, or our emotions, which are often triggered by an external input. 

We cannot control these inputs. They happen every second. From the weather, to your family interactions, to politics, to violence, to work interactions, to the stock market, and the list goes on. 

But we each have a choice.  We can choose how we react to each input and how we act based on our situational awareness. We act based on fear or purpose, there is no alternative. 

Every action you perform, starts with a thought. Without first having thought, your brain cannot instruct your body to perform an action. Writing this blog, for example, came from a thought, and now I am typing these words. Each finger press into the keyboard is a mini thought processed and executed. This is why thoughts are so powerful; and control over your thoughts will change your life.

Thoughts are created through the catalyst of the inputs we experience, some we generate, but most come from our environment. Our thoughts are either purpose driven or fear driven.

Let's examine fear based thoughts first. There are six basic fears that we experience:

  • Fear of Death
  • Fear of Ill Health
  • Fear of Old Age
  • Fear of Loss of Love
  • Fear of Criticism
  • Fear of Poverty

When we stand on the edge of a cliff or have a gun pointed at us, our brain tells us there is danger. This is a natural result of the Fear of Death. If we receive a call from the hospital telling us that our parent is there and we should come right away, we experience the Fear of Loss of Love. If we lose our job or the stock market crashes, we have the Fear of Poverty. 

We cannot control those external inputs, and we should not try to ignore the fear that they generate. The fear is a signal that you care deeply about something.

Most people react to fear and create thoughts that are fear-based and fear-motivated.

Very few people actually view fear in the correct manner. We should view fear as a signal to tell us that what we really care about is in danger, and we must create new thoughts in response. 

If you have identified your core purpose, you can learn, through lots of practice, to transform every input into an action that is driven by your purpose. 

I believe that with your core purpose in mind, you choose to create thoughts that lead to actions that direct you closer to your core purpose, not reactions to fears based on inputs out of your control.

Tis the Season to be Grateful

We saw snow over a month ago, and have been hearing Mariah Carey’s Christmas album pour from department stores for weeks—but we still feel pretty on top of it. Last Tuesday, a full nine days before Thanksgiving, Black Lab Sports officially kicked off the holiday season the best way we know how: a party!

Thanks to our friends at J.P. Morgan Chase, who hosted their annual holiday party at Black Lab Sports, we celebrated the start of this special time of year with good food, plentiful drinks, live music, fine art, and first-rate company. It was a joyful evening and a timely reminder that we have so much to be thankful for.

As the holiday madness approaches, we want to take a moment to let you, our community, know that we value and appreciate you. Whether you’re a founder, investor, executive mentor, pro athlete advisor, family member, intern, colleague, or simply a friend of Black Lab Sports: Thank you. Without all of you, we might still be dreaming rather than doing.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Enjoy these shots from the holiday kickoff party:

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Real Talk after a First Round KO

 The Staredown: Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Rose Namajunas. (from mma-core.com)

The Staredown: Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Rose Namajunas. (from mma-core.com)

At Black Lab Sports, we spend a lot of energy identifying and investing in the right people. Beyond sales growth and business accomplishments, what matters, and what attracts us to certain founders and their teams in the first place, is the values and work ethic on which they operate. Trevor Wittman of ONX Sports is a perfect example.

There’s no question that Trevor is a phenomenal coach. Currently an 18-time world champion coach, he’s creating quite a legacy in the world of combat sports. What’s cool about Trevor though, is that his legacy is equal parts record and character—and the same goes for the athletes he trains. Last weekend’s UFC World Championship match, featuring his own Rose Namajunas in the strawweight class, was a great representation of the type of camp Trevor runs and the kinds of athletes he invests in.

Rose was a 6-1 underdog the day before the event. She was up against Joanna Jedrzejczyk of Poland, the #1 pound-for-pound female MMA fighter in the world. Joanna had been verbally vicious all week and postured herself as the heavy favorite going in. Take a look at her pre-fight staredown with Rose, and note the stark difference in their words and actions (3 minutes):

 

Now watch what happens in the ring (4 minutes). Imagine the kind of poise and self-belief that Rose needed to face an opponent who’d been thumping her chest all week long:

 

But most importantly, see how Rose handles the outcome and the message she sends afterwards (2 minutes). Rather than soaking in individual glory, she exudes humility and grace and uses her platform to do good.  *If you watch just one video, make it this one!

 

Thanks, Rose and Trevor, for using sport as a conduit for self-improvement and connection. We’re proud of all that you do, but especially the way that you do it.

We All Need a Team

By Becky Wade

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Eight days ago, I toed the line at the Chicago Marathon. After several months of focused training, many weeks over 100 miles, a few positive races, and hardly any setbacks, I felt ready to go. I was rested, my workouts indicated I was in personal record shape, and I was prepared to dig extraordinarily deep.

The race did not go as planned. A stitch that lingered for most of the race, making it hard to breathe and take fluids, derailed my breakthrough and tested my pride. Instead of blasting the last 10K—the way I’ve run my best marathons—I was the one staggering toward the finish line, trying to stay upright and praying no one else blew by me. Ultimately, I finished in 10th place (in 2:35). Though I matched my ranking going into the race, my performance and result were tough to swallow.

The texts and e-mails started rolling in soon after I finished. And right up in there, along with my extended family and former teammates (my immediate family was with me in Chicago) were notes of support from my Black Lab Sports colleagues. Having followed along my build-up for the last few months, they were intentional about tracking the race or looking up results, and they let me know that they cared how I did. None of them are distance runners (though there are collegiate swimmers, lacrosse players, and football players among them), and they didn’t yet know how the race unfolded or how I felt about it. But receiving their messages and returning to work a few days later to a whole lot of support, tons of questions about my experience, and a much-needed sense of normalcy, meant a lot to me.

It’s moments like these that I’m especially thankful for my life outside of running—where I do work that challenges and excites me but isn’t really about me; where I have more structure and balance in my life than I would were I just running; and where I’m part of two teams (Black Lab Sports and isplack) that value me equally for my work in the office and on the pavement. So thank you, JP, Justin, Peter, Aaron, Olja, Zach, Cooper, Steve, Lindsay, Michael, Jen, and the many others who work at or visit The Lab and have shown me support in some way. I appreciate it all, and am already dreaming about my next crack at 26.2.

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Denver Startup Week Show Notes

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By Becky Wade

Thanks to those of you who joined Black Lab Sports at Denver Startup Week last Tuesday! We enjoyed interacting with you all and hope you gained some insight into what it takes to make it as a sports startup. If nothing else, hopefully you were inspired to take massive action towards turning an idea into reality, no matter how formidable and daunting it may seem.

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In addition to sharing the Black Lab Sports story, JP and Justin were joined on stage for a Q&A session by two special guests, professional sportsmen, entrepreneurs, and friends: Jake Plummer, former NFL Quarterback and co-founder of Readylist Pro; and Trevor Wittman, 17-time world champion coach and founder of ONX Sports. JP served as moderator while Justin, with a 12-year NFL career, represented isplack. If you missed the presentation, here are a few quotes that stood out:

 

JP O'Brien and Justin Bannan, Black Lab Sports:

"We go through this six-step process: Decide - Envision - Believe - Act - Gratefulness - Awe." - JP

"Instantly with Black Lab Sports, I found I had value I could bring to the table. And I was on a search... I knew I had something to bring to the table while I could learn." -Justin (before becoming a co-founder of isplack)

"You've got to love the hard work. Just because we're here and we've done these things doesn't mean it was super easy. It was really hard, right? ... It's all about understanding the struggle is a necessary ingredient. You have to have the struggle." -JP

"We have two major rules at our company: Give First, and No Assholes." -JP

"We are really interested in building and investing in leaders who understand and practice this concept of turning thoughts into reality." -JP

"Not to be cheesy, but 'you build it and they will come.' We created this ecosystem and we have a true, live vision of what we want to create and how we want to impact." -Justin

 

Jake Plummer, Readylist Pro

"More than anything, it's surrounding yourself... coming back to a team. Because I never would have done anything that I accomplished as a football player without my trust in my guys on my team... So having guys around you in the business world, finding the right ones, that's been a big challenge... you've got to find ways to vet them and have people you can trust."

"Some of the challenges are just getting over your own ego and getting over your own doubts, and making those calls. And hey, if they hang up on you, then call the next guy."

 

Trevor Wittman, ONX Sports:

"I fell in love with chasing what scared me."

"I never cried after winning a boxing match. But almost any time that one of my athletes won a fight, or even the people that I'm working with that are in the gym but aren't fighting... it would make me emotional."

"(JP) asked me about my purpose... and he helped me find that externalizing the internal champion is really what my purpose is. Once I really found that, everything fit together... everything in my whole life has been about it."

 

Justin Bannan, isplack:

"It wasn't about the eyeblack; it was about the mindset, the concept, how (JP) approached it."

"The ups and downs of football... it's a lot like entrepreneurism or starting a company."

"It's very important to me that people believe in me in this new route in life. It's powerful."

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Again, we really appreciate everyone who joined us at Denver Startup Week. It was great to gather in a room full of people eager to learn, innovate, and do great things. As always, if you're interested in continuing the conversation, please contact us here

See you next time!

Black Lab Sports at Denver Startup Week

Curious about what it takes to make it as a sports startup? Interested in hearing from pros from both the sports and business worlds?

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You’re in luck! Justin Bannan and I will be representing Black Lab Sports at Denver Startup Week on Tuesday, September 26, and we'd love to see you there. Our session is called "Building an Ecosystem for Success in Sports Startups" and this is the premise:

Building a sustainable business in the sports industry is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs, athletes, and investors alike. The diversity of the customer base and multiple verticals for growth make the sports industry engaging, exciting, and profitable. But the opportunities are balanced by their challenges. Black Lab Sports is a sports-focused venture capital firm building an ecosystem where sports startups can avoid the pitfalls of the industry. Hear from those who are building, thinking, and doing in the space: from professional athletes turned entrepreneurs to sports industry veterans to professional team executives. Speakers include:

 Jake Plummer

Jake Plummer

 Trevor Wittman

Trevor Wittman

Here are the details:

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We hope you’ll join us on Tuesday!

Be great.