Thinking Differently: isplack Signs Story and Pederson

(Welcome to our series on Thinking Differently, a collection of real-world experiences that illustrate Albert Einstein’s belief, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”)

Illustrations by: Gail Folwell

Illustrations by: Gail Folwell

At Black Lab Sports, we like to think differently.

Rather than doing things the conventional way because it’s simple or safe, sometimes we take a step back. We challenge the system. And we improve on it when we can. It’s not about disrupting the status quo for the sake of it. It’s about identifying areas in need of growth and creating space for bigger wins all around. isplack’s recent endorsement of two hot pro baseball players—Trevor Story and Joc Pederson—captures that way of thinking and doing.

As a sports-focused venture capital firm, we feel it’s important that Black Lab Sports includes star athletes as part of our brands’ growth and marketing strategies. We also feel that the traditional sponsorship model doesn’t work the same for all brands. Big-time brands pay big-time athletes significant amounts of real dollars in endorsements. Most start-ups simply can’t compete with that.

The Black Lab Sports team took an inventory of what we do have here: a growing company, a vibrant ecosystem, and brands in exciting stages of development. And we designed a new endorsement model based off that. We want our athletes to be not just representatives of a brand, but part of the whole entrepreneurial process. We want them to learn about what it takes to be an entrepreneur and what it means to be an owner. It sounds like a win-win, and we believe that it will be.

As of last week, that model is no longer just an idea. isplack has implemented the new model by signing Trevor Story, starting shortstop from Colorado, and Joc Pederson, starting centerfielder from LA, as the first official isplack pros. We’ve entered a new phase and we couldn’t be more excited for them to be part of it. While an endorsement on paper, we see our relationship with Story and Pederson as so much more: an opportunity to support athletes in an untraditional but powerful way that allows us to maximize their best interests (both now and in the future), while also building our own framework for integrating star athletes into all of our future brands. We are looking for individuals who are not only phenomenal players, but who also align with our core culture, who are excited about being involved in a start-up, and who are capable of thinking and acting like owners and not just stars. With Story and Pederson, we ticked off all those boxes, and we’re thrilled to bring them on board.

Final Thought

At Black Lab Sports, we believe that resilient, mindful people, even in hard and uncertain times, will make a better world for all. And we are on a mission to identify, develop, grow, and support these unique people. I know that "Thinking Differently" is often an overused cliche, but the practice of challenging the status quo and thinking differently is at the very core of making valuable and positive change. Thinking differently opened the door for isplacks’ first pro athlete endorsements, and we see these endorsements as just the beginning. Stick around for updates on Story and Pederson and our collaborative efforts in doing things differently.