Some Seahawks players are spending their offseason learning the ins and outs of today’s business and investing world.
Seattle-based firm Madrona Venture Group hosted a group of local NFL players at its office on Monday evening to discuss “innovation and the future.” Madrona Managing Director Matt McIllwain moderated a panel with veteran tech entrepreneurs like Amperity CEO Kabir Shahani and ReplyYes CEO Dave Cotter. Microsoft Managing Director for Corporate Development Marc Brown and former NFL quarterback — and co-founder of Passing Time Winery — Damon Huard also spoke at the event.
— MadronaVentureGroup (@MadronaVentures) May 10, 2016
— Matt McIlwain (@mattmcilwain) May 10, 2016
The panel discussed everything from the entrepreneurial journey to evaluating business ideas to maintaining and creating relationships. Players like wide receiver Doug Baldwin, who is speaking at our GeekWire Sports Tech Summit in July, were in attendance.
Andrew McGee, who co-founded Seattle-based non-profit GREATER with former Seahawks lineman Russell Okung, told GeekWire that the event was “powerful because it’s basically a collision of two very influential industries.”
“The dialogue exchanged last night creates an opportunity for leaders in sport and tech to recognize the many parallels of athletics and entrepreneurship,” he said. “… The ability to leverage the intersection of sport and tech is huge when it comes to not only raising awareness of the power of tech and entrepreneurship, but providing that access to knowledge to the influencers in the community. It’s an absolute game changer.”
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen folks from Madrona connect with Seahawks players, as the firm held a similar event about a year ago. Madrona Principal Julie Sandler also hosted linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis to help judge a business pitch expo for her University of Washington MBA Technology Management class last year.
The Seahawks, owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, have a number of players with off-the-field interests in the business world. Stars Russell Wilson and Richard Sherman are two of the NFL’s most active players in regard to selling their own merchandise and inking sponsorships — Wilson with companies like Microsoft, Alaska Airlines, and Bose, while Sherman has done work with Oberto, T-Mobile, and Amazon.
Former Seahawks Okung and Marshawn Lynch are also active, with Okung helping launch GREATER and investing in local eSports startup Matcherino. Lynch, who retired after last season, recently started selling merchandise on Amazon.com as part of the company’s “Exclusives” line.