The Marketing Haven Podcast

Episode 2

Ahmad Elhawli converses with Arthur Root

Follow the link to listen to the podcast along with a transcript of the podcast below.

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Arthur Root:
Welcome to the Marketing Haven podcast hosted by Nostra. We discuss what it takes to market in today's climate and how to build a killer marketing strategy. 

Arthur Root:
Hello everyone, I'm Arthur Root the host of marketing havens and I'm joined here with a very awesome guest. Ahmad, would you want to give yourself an introduction? Would love to hear a little bit about yourself and you know how are you. 

Ahmad Elhawli:
Hey Arthur, how you doing buddy? 

Arthur Root:
I'm very well thank you. 

Ahmad Elhawli:
Yeah, absolutely. So basically my career started in marketing. I was actually a Digital marketing executive at a finance firm and this was in 2012 basically. These you know, finance firms are very old school and traditional, and they had no digital presence whatsoever, so my job. I just graduated from college. My job was was to come through and really help them build a digital presence and start building different. Uhm, funnels and whatnot. To try and bring in as many leads. Also and then from that take that and also build our social media campaigns. So I started marketing there. Uhm, stayed there for three years helped them build their digital presence. We went from doing literally 250 or $750 million in mortgages over like 15 years. And in the next 24 months I was there we did over $250 million on our balance. So we had great success there and obviously it was purely through inbound marketing understanding our audience, building out a content at customers, and then really bringing through bringing people throughout our different, different funnels during that time. 

Ahmad Elhawli:
Going back a few years probably, I grew up into all the sports very involved in the world of boxing. In my early years in the corporate world I was offered a gig where I could take over the licensing rights of a huge boxing brand. An international one in Australia, New Zealand. At the time I was living there. And I took that on, and then I sort of left the position I was in to, then move onto the move on to build the brand in Oceana, and we were able to take that from nothing. Doing over $1,000,000 year basically and then we moved on from that into the world of sports tech. Sort of what we tried to do was. We tried to build a marketplace for actual businesses, sporting businesses and have everyone on one platform. And we can build a bit of an ecosystem to support one another and give your mom and pop sporting stores or your startups, Sports tech business. Cool so that honestly, it didn't work out too well and during that time I was actually offered a position. At a company where it was a software volunteer management company. And my role was to come in as a product owner, and from that I was dealing with like clients like the FIFA's of the world, the UAFA Super Bowl, last London Marathon. Basically all the big sporting events. And during that time I was always traveling from Australia to the states up and down a fair bit. I was very intrigued with college football. and NFL and so on. And anyway, so. Speaker 3 In 2019 I was trying to purchase a pair of LSU football belts. And I went looking, searching on eBay. And from eBay. I went to Instagram and I was getting shown around everywhere and really it was a bit of a confusing journey. So from that I said, why not try and bring all this college merchandise and college football equipment or even football coming in general and merchandise or one platform. So in 2019 December, I Incorporated Sports Finder, Inc. It was the 19th of December. And basically from there we went on and we launched it just through Instagram communities and in our first year we had over. Sorry in our first month, we had over 500 people sign up. And I started the Sports Farmer podcast. At that time I met an assistant associate athletic director from Penn State and. He sits in there and suggested, you need to start looking into the World of name image and likeness. And basically. from that I that sort of intrigued me are going to inquisitive and started going through that world learning and adjusting and over the next 12 months we adjusted our platform to become what is now the athlete monetization platform.  

Ahmad Elhawli:
In plain words, basically athletes come to sports Finder and from sports Finder we help them monetize their personal brands. And that's where I am today. 

Arthur Root:
Nice, that's awesome, that's awesome. And so you mentioned a little bit about sports finder, but would love to go into a little bit more detail on this kind of what are you seeing in the market today with it with the business? 

Ahmad Elhawli:
Yeah, absolutely. So what happened this year was basically we've seen the historic launch of a completely new industry which was, as student athletes are now able to basically monetize their personal brands. So for the 100 plus years history of the NCAA brand, student athletes have not been able to monetize. And they've lost scholarships for having pay phones paid for basically. So really trivial things, they've. lost call issues and lost the titles whatever. So what we're doing now is our whole focus is we started from the position of community. We looked at the space at the beginning and we could see all these players coming through. When I say players, I mean companies and we said OK, how can we serve this market not be a copycat like everyone else. So what we did was we went and we focused on the community aspect. So how can we give these student athletes, or even athletes in general in underrepresented sports. So that they can go back to their community and basically have them support them by monetizing on these tools. Now, everyone, every athlete has some sort of level of fame in their community because they've seen them grow from the young child into the teenage into the man or the woman and become athletes. Playing Division One, Division two, Division Three, so they always intrigued in their journeys. And always wanting to support them a majority of the time. So that's how we what we did was we went from just simple products that giving them the ability to sell simple products and merchandise to enabling them to auction off memorabilia. Then we thought OK COVID sorta hit last year and draw right in in the thick of it, and we said, how can we add to the platform? So if COVID is a thing moving forward, How can they still monetize without being you know in physical appearance. So we introduced online experiences, so athletes can now sell online experiences to basically their fan base anyway, moving on online and in person experiences. And the biggest project that we're about to launch actually is our NFT Marketplace which is going to pretty much be the solar of our business because we see it as the future. NFT’s is going to change many industries gonna change the way digital trading cards are basically consumed and we're gonna say it incorporated into many different industries and the building of community in my belief is going to be the backbone of that is going to be NFT's. So our focus now is really launching our NFT component and then taking it to to the industry and really thriving over that. But what we're seeing is a ton of companies in the marketplace who are trying to now monetize in a very, very similar manner.

Arthur Root: Awesome, awesome, and so you've seen an incredible amount of success here. And have done so much so far. Is there any pieces of advice that you received, or any inflection points within your career that you know helped get you to where you are today? 

Ahmad Elhawli:
I mean,  I've never really had a mentor. But I've always followed certain entrepreneurs that have that really resonated with me and one of them is Gary Vaynerchuk and I know he's very like he's become a buzzword, it's pretty much everywhere. Basically what I've learned is that throughout this journey the biggest thing that you have to have is Patience and the next thing I'll well one thing before that is always have a vision and an end goal and and don't look for that solution or don't look for that problem to solve, let it come to you. I mean one of the biggest issues is that people go out looking for businesses to build and startups to incorporate and build. But really, if you look at the successful ones it's always been a problem that they've experienced in an industry that they're already in because one of the hardest things is to build a network. In an industry build credibility in an industry. So if you come out of college and get a job, and so for example whatever job you're you're in, always have your eyes open and look for the things that you really hate doing the most in that position and what I could have done a lot better myself is that I didn't do that. I was always looking for the next big thing or the next problem I should be solving. And it didn't matter which industry. So that really made my journey a lot harder than what it should have. When I was in finance, this was 2013. I mean, fintech wasn't even around. It had our focus there and I just looked. And there were now that I think back there were many pain points, but I just never had that mindset. It's a sort of think that way, so that's probably one of the biggest things I would say is go to a get a job in an industry you like. Look for the pain points you experience if you can and look how. You can make those things a lot easier and the journey is very difficult. All these fantasy stories you hear young guys 20 years turned sold exited for billions or I'd go for billions, whatever, whatever, they're like one in three or four billion right? It's like and usually behind in this infrastructure, there's a past. So people get sucked into all this by reading things by reading all these stories, but really, that's not the way it works, it's very rare that these things occur. 

Arthur Root:
And so you've mentioned a little bit about the advice you've received for others you know people who are just starting off people who are just going there. Any bits of advice that you would give them today?

Ahmad Elhawli:
Yeah 100%. Find something you like, find the industry like get a job in. That look for it for the pain points. And try and solve them if you believe you have a piece of technology or product that solves that problem take it to the market and test it. It's not the end of the world if you fail be brave enough to actually try things. What's the worst thing that can happen is you stay in your job and that's it. It doesn't get worse than that, yeah, and be very patient because it's very, very tough journey. It's not easy. 

Arthur Root:
Awesome, well appreciate the time. Appreciate the wisdom and if people want to get in touch with you or they want to reach out in some way, what's the best way to get in contact? 

Ahmad Elhawli:
Just send me an email ahmad@sportsfinda.com 

Arthur Root:
Thank you for listening to the Marketing Haven please subscribe below. 


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