Mac Lackey and Ross Saldarini are serial entrepreneurs in Charlotte North Carolina, they’re also soccer enthusiasts. The pair have started several startups and even had a few exits. Their most notable exits were selling internetsoccer.com to a public European media company, and selling Mountain Khakis to Remington.
Now they’re back at it again, infusing their love of startups, social media and soccer into one new company called KYCK. KYCK is a social network, and community for soccer enthusiasts connecting them to each other and an abundance of great soccer related content.
Through a proprietary content delivery system that Lackey calls “media layers” they are able to offer even the most scrupulous of soccer fans the best possible experience through their own personal soccer focused dashboard.
While we’re all familiar with how popular soccer is overseas, a poll conducted by ESPN earlier this year showed that soccer has climbed to the second most popular sport in the United States behind football among those age 12-24 which is one of the most important demographic for professional sports.
With the vast amount of soccer related content, pouring in from across the globe, and the increase in popularity for the sport, KYCK is poised to become the destination for soccer fans around the world.
We got a chance to talk with Lackey about soccer, KYCK and raising a startup in Charlotte, North Carolina. Check out the interview below:
What is KYCK?
We have a digital media company called KYCK.com. KYCK is focused on one of the largest and most passionate demographic groups on earth – soccer enthusiasts. For these passionate fans KYCK helps them discover and share content, videos, pictures, offers and stories. As much as anything KYCK takes a massive amount of global content and customizes it down to an individual level so that there is a high degree of relevance to what you consume. KYCK is unlike anything in the social space – it’s vertically focused. All we do is help people discover and share soccer vs. the more traditional social networks who are quite horizontal in nature (offering not only many sports but often news, weather, family photos and backyard projects). We offer have a very unique concept I call “media layers” which provides you a simultaneous view of your “recent” feed (posts from from your friends and teams as they happen live/chronologically) as well as a “top” feed (or as we call it, TOP KYCK, which is curated and filtered based on relevancy… it tells you the most important things happening in your network, with your favorite teams as well as general trending. This media layers concept when paired with our relevancy engine provides a soccer enthusiast a dashboard into THEIR personal soccer world. I almost think of it as a personal soccer concierge who is constantly updating you saying “you should read this”, “you’ll love this article”, “check out this highlight video of your favorite player”… powerful stuff….
Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds
Mac Lackey and Ross Saldarini are the founders. Mac is a serial entrepreneurs having built and sold four companies, and has collaborated with Ross on many of those companies. Companies of note include: internetsoccer.com (sold to a public media company in Europe in 2000) and Mountain Khakis (sold to Remington in 2010).
Where are you based?
The company is HQ’d in Charlotte, North Carolina.
What is the startup culture like where you are based?
Charlotte is historically a conservative town, being the second largest banking center in the US… Over the past 5 years Charlotte has begun to embrace earlier stage companies with particular focus on alternative energy. As the banks and other Fortune 500 companies have had tough times there is some great talent migrating out of the larger companies and into the startup pool. We’ve not only created an online/mobile community for soccer fans to discover relevant content and interact with one another (and professional players and teams!), but we also live, eat, and breathe the sport. Some of our staff plays for a local professional soccer team, Charlotte Eagles, and I’ve played soccer throughout my career – including college soccer for Wake Forest University.
What problem does your startup solve?
Currently KYCK is a filter which helps soccer fans ensure they are receiving the content they want based on things that are relevant to them.. With a global sport running 24/7/365 you can imagine there is a tremendous amount of content, so filtering out all the unwanted noise is critical. In addition the platform makes it easy for players, coaches, teams and clubs to better communicate all forms of soccer info directly (think game times, change of venue, videos of drills they need to practice, highlights to consume, etc, etc.)
What is one challenge that you’ve overcome in the startup process?
The biggest challenges for KYCK (like many startups) relate to marketing. When the app store has 5000+ soccer related apps (even if many are unrelated, amateur, bad-quality, etc.) it becomes difficult to stand out above the clutter and reach your target audience. So having already added people in 128 different countries, professional players, top 10 college teams, a top 25 global pro team, etc. on our platform at this early stage is a big win.
Who are your mentors and role models?
I am a big believer in modeling after others who have already burned trails ahead of me. For me personally I have actual mentors who I speak to weekly for both general business advice as well as moral/ethical guidance and then I have a variety of entrepreneurs/thinkers who I respect and study so I can emulate in various ways (Steve Jobs on design and building amazing products… Tim Ferris on managing time and lifestyle design… Steve Case on big thinking and philanthropy… etc, etc.)
What’s next for KYCK?
The next set of technologies and products we are going to roll out are very powerful. Now that we have a basic platform built for communication and a robust relevancy engine driving the experience, our offerings will become more and more integrated with a soccer players/fans life… social commerce (personalized offers based on your interests and those of your friends), integration with tournament companies, camp companies, etc.