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SBD Global/May 30, 2014/People and Pop Culture

Hangin' With... You First Sports CEO Juan Aísa



Juan Aísa said You First Sports will focus on markets in China, Americas.
JUAN AÍSA is the CEO of You First Sports, a Madrid-based global athlete representation and sports marketing firm that represents 520 coaches and athletes. Aísa, a former pro basketball player who played in Spain and France during the '90s, helped found You First in '02. In addition to the services the company provides as an agency -- its clients include 35 NBA players through associate ASM sports/Andy Miller -- You First also provides marketing consulting by employing what Aísa called a "different model," providing clients advice without owning properties.

On the inspiration for creating You First ...
Juan Aísa: In 2002, we realized that the services being provided to professional athletes outside of the USA were not good enough and the organizations providing them did not follow high standards of quality and professionalism. There were needs on the side of the players and clear ways to improve the response to such demands. We decided to jump into the market guided by three strong principles: hire the best talent to work for us; provide an excellent level of service; and develop a global structure to be able to serve our clients in any part of the world. Twelve years later, and we are proud to say that we correctly identified the opportunity and that we have executed according to our plans. We are present in 10 countries, represent more than 500 athletes, have an excellent team of 114 employees, and provide marketing consulting services to more than 100 companies. We have strong relationships with organizations such as the NBA, Euroleague Basketball and some of the top soccer leagues in the world.

On the regions You First considers priorities for expansion ...
Aísa: Our priorities are to consolidate our basketball business and to keep growing in our soccer and marketing services business lines. We have extended our footprint in Europe in the last few years (openings in Italy, France, Turkey, Lithuania and new openings coming soon). We see strong growth potential through our operations in China and in the Americas and we will focus on those markets in the near future. Once we establish the geographical priorities, we place great emphasis on finding the right people to make our business grow. We are a service company and we differentiate by being very close to our clients, which enables us to understand their goals, values, and core objectives. Finding people who can do precisely that, who can be responsible, knowledgeable, team oriented and who can share our strong culture has been and will be the key to our success. We devote many of our resources to accomplish this.

On expanding the business into the marketing sector ...
Aísa: Despite the continuous growth and development of the international sports markets, many companies are still trying to find the right way to utilize sports as a means to communicate, to reach their potential customers and to ultimately increase sales and brand awareness. That's where we come in. We make sure to understand the company's goals and we understand how they can reach them through sports. We also realized that many agencies which were providing consulting services were, at the same time, acquiring rights, which could raise doubts about their independence. We've built a different model. We don't own properties and our advice to companies is driven solely by their needs.

On social media's impact on the industry ...
Aísa: We’ve tried to anticipate the demands of our clients and identify improvements in our services driven by new technologies and new communication platforms. We help our athletes to shape their image and reach new audiences through social media. If it’s done in the right way it is an asset for their teams and sponsors but also an asset for themselves, enhancing their influence and legacy. As for the marketing services, the new platforms have evolved from being a new opportunity for our clients to being an indispensable tool. A creative and efficient use of the social media in the activation of their sponsorship investments is now a fundamental step of our service.

Hangin' With is a weekly feature that runs Fridays in SBD Global.
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