(EDITOR’S NOTE: Seven teams competed in the finale of this year’s “What’s the Big Idea” competition sponsored by the Development Corporation of Knox County, Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, Knoxville Chamber and Tech 2020. Sing and Spell won the event, but six other entrepreneurial teams “gave it their all.” This is the fifth in a series profiling the other finalists that competed in the revamped, 48-hour event.)
Kevin White described GameDay Weekenders during the finale of this year’s “What’s the Big Idea” as a making away games feel like home.”
When did you first come-up with the idea that you submitted for the 2015 “What’s the Big Idea” competition?
We came up with GameDay Weekenders last year when I attended an away game, and I realized that many students where very disconnected when at away games. At away games, the interaction between fans for the same team where almost nonexistent. Also I noticed that many of those fans who go to every home game where not there, instead they watched the game on television. When I thought about those two things is when GameDay Weekenders came to me. It was a way to build a sports culture where fans would be able to cheer on their favorite team no matter where the game was located.
Tell us about the original idea. What is it? What market need or deficiency do you hope to address?
The original idea was to get more away fans at away games. When attending home games, there are many die-hard fans everywhere you look, but at away games not so much. The first thing I want to do with GameDay Weekenders is to get fans to support their team at away games. By getting more and more fans at away games, it will solve the away game support from fans. There is nothing more exciting than hearing a fan cheering for their team in a foreign environment.
How did the concept change during the 48-hour weekend of intense mentoring and advice from others?
The concept behind GameDay Weekenders did not change much, instead over the weekend we were able to drill down into exactly what we were providing. The service that GameDay Weekenders provides is much more than traveling and lodging, it is the full experience. GameDay Weekenders strives to give the sport fan the ultimate away atmosphere. This atmosphere includes: tailgates, parties, social events and more.
Who were some of your more valuable mentors/advisors and how did they help you get ready for that Sunday night finale?
On my team of mentors and advisors where Shawn Carson, Kellie Crye, and Colin Thomas. Throughout the weekend, each one pushed us to think critically and learn the business inside and out. From Friday evening up until the finale Sunday, they all dished-out questions to make sure that I knew exactly what I am proposing but also to help me hone in on what is important to the business and what is going to inevitably bring profits to the business. Shawn Carson was our lead mentor and was the one who was with us for the entire weekend. He gave great insight that allowed us to find our niche as well as our total addressable market so we would know exactly our revenue and profit goals over the next years. After turning in our presentation, Shawn also did an amazing job preparing me for the presentation. His tips and techniques for giving pitches where very helpful and carried me to give an amazing pitch.
Although you did not win the up to $10,000, you were on stage before an appreciative audience. Do you plan to continue working on the idea?
Yes, I definitely plan to continue working on GameDay Weekenders. The weekend did nothing but motivate and excite us to continue to strive to bring that home game atmosphere to away games across the nation. Over the weekend, we were able to solidify our plan and what exactly we needed moving forward to get GameDay Weekenders up and running and over the next months, we’re will be working tirelessly to achieve that goal.
If you could wave the proverbial wand and get one wish for something to help you move forward, what would it be?
I would wish for a tested marketing plan. Having a business where we are reaching out to students across the nation in different locations marketing can sometimes get too broad. By having the detailed marketing advice, GameDay Weekenders will be able to find that target market and be able to provide a great service to those customers. (EDITOR’S NOTE: You can contact White at firstname.lastname@example.org.)