As a kid, I knew I would play college football. That’s how I discovered our game and ultimately founded my lacrosse company, Signature.
In eighth grade, my football coach came into the locker room and dropped a bunch of lacrosse sticks on the ground. He informed us there were new plans for our off-season training.
That was when I first learned about the fastest game on two feet.
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Tackling The Future
I immediately fell in love with lacrosse but stuck with football, too. I was bumped up to varsity football as a freshman, lining up at running back and corner. Football is king in Palm Beach County. A lot of guys I played against have been in the NFL, like Matt Elam, Nick O’Leary and Lamar Jackson.
In high school, Elam played running back, and in a game that season, I was tasked with handling him. He came around on a sweep, and I hunkered down for the hit. Elam lowered his shoulder and tore my rotator cuff, running through me like the human speedbump I was. He carried me 10 yards before falling to the ground, which means I can say that I tackled Matt Elam.
That was my moment of realization: if I wanted to play college sports, lacrosse was my path there.
I remained a three-sport athlete through high school, though lacrosse became my number one. Through the sport, I achieved my goal and joined the lacrosse team at St. John’s University. That’s where the final transformation of my passion took place.
My First Lacrosse Company
I always knew I wanted to provide for myself and not have to rely on anybody. As a kid, my brother and I would do anything to make a buck. We were landscapers, odd-job doers, whatever it took. One of our more lucrative ventures was a mango stand, sourcing our product from our neighbor’s trees.
In high school, I joined forces with some friends to build a lacrosse training business. Soon, we grew from three or four customers per week to 40 or 50, and we expanded our employees, bringing on other young lacrosse experts to do the lessons for us. We provided checklists and a roadmap while handling all the scheduling and behind-the-scenes work. All they had to do was follow instructions, show up and teach lacrosse.
It was my first exposure to management, and it was a nightmare.
They never read the checklists. They’d arrive without balls and without goals. It was ridiculous.
I knew from that point on that I wanted to start a new business and scale it with a smaller team.
Innovating The Lacrosse Ball
During a practice my senior year of high school, I was stretching off to the side. The goalie was getting warmed up, and the ball pinged off the post and hit me in the back. I picked it up, and a lightbulb went off in my head.
Lacrosse balls had been the same since forever. If a better ball could be created, then players could get more out of every rep, coaches could get more out of every practice, and the sport would be improved overall.
I found a rubber chemist on LinkedIn and we got to work.
We discovered what makes a ball go bad: friction. Friction from hitting the back of the net, skimming against the grass or turf, coming out of the mesh, it all adds up. Then include UV rays from the sun, and the ball will be torn away.
We improved the manufacturing process and chemical composition of the ball. Our work helped solve a problem in lacrosse, and it’s what led to Signature.
I first launched the company in the spring of 2014 while still playing at St. John’s.
I quickly knew I wanted to pursue it full-time, but I also knew that was incompatible with being a college student and Division I athlete. That’s why I transferred to the University of Tampa, and eventually dropped out of school; I knew Signature was my passion right away.
My plan was to build Signature up to a point, exit and begin a hedge fund. But in 2016, someone asked me why I couldn’t do that with Signature? I couldn’t find an answer. I began to think much bigger about what Signature could be. We were already developing our Quick Connect Goal and Complete Lacrosse Sticks as I thought about how we could become a global brand.
I realized what, at our core, we were really good at: finding problems and solving them.
So, we began our search for a great problem to solve, and we found it. Our lacrosse company cold called youth sports program directors across the country, and we discovered their largest gripe was uniforms and fan gear.
The process was too convoluted. The program director would take orders from all the parents, have to hunt them down for cash prior to ordering or front the money themselves, send the order forms to a retailer, then they’re sent to a sourcing agent, then they go to a factory that probably doesn’t have the required software, so everything is done in paper and likely not in English.
Next, the retailers get the goods and blindly send them along to the program director. The director, who then hands them out at the field, is the only outlet for parents to complain when the size, color, numbering and more are wrong.
We cut the program director and sourcing agent out of the process, allowing a higher quality product at a better price and limiting human error. We have 24/7/365 team services and take care of marketing. Textile manufacturing is domestic, and there’s a 21-day standard turnaround time for everything. We’re the only lacrosse company offering a 100 percent replacement guarantee.
When a team joins with us, we set up a team store with 30 custom products on our site. Parents put their order in through Signature’s website, and the order drop ships to their front door.
Paying It Forward
Growing up, my dad used to say a prayer every night that all he wanted was for my brother and me to make a positive impact on the world. It’s something that’s never left me.
At Signature, we solve problems that make the world more positive. We also develop influential leaders who will develop more influential leaders. These qualities are personally important to me, and I know my teammates feel the same.
My fiancée, Maddie, is a youth lacrosse program director. She has helped me get involved with coaching young laxers, too, and it has become one of my favorite activities. Sometimes, after working long days on my lacrosse company for weeks on end, it can be tough to be up and at the field early on the weekend to set up for games and tournaments. Whenever I put up any resistance, she reminds me how fortunate I was to have the experiences I had growing up; this is an opportunity for me to give that back and pay it forward.
It works every single time.
I am incredibly grateful for lacrosse and sports. They have given me everything I have, providing me with the lessons, relationships and moments that have shaped me into who I am now.
Through Signature, through coaching, through athletics, and through leadership, I will answer my father’s prayers and make a positive impact.
Right now we’re raising capital for Signature through the business crowdfunding site, Start Engine. We’re doing this in order to raise the bar in the industry and to create the next generation of lacrosse gear that provides a better player experience.
It’s been a thrilling experience since we launched the campaign, and I’m enjoying the process of meeting new investors. There are so many brilliant people who are part of the lacrosse community!
Interested in starting your own company?
The least I can do is offer help, be it doling out advice or connecting you to the right information, so please don’t hesitate to reach out by commenting below with any questions.
Interested in investing in our lacrosse company?
I’d be happy to connect. The best way is to reach out is through LinkedIn, or you’re more than welcome to comment on our Start Engine page: StartEngine.com/Signature.
I’ll be back on Lacrosse All Stars soon to report about how it went.