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Volume 21 No. 2
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Plugged In: Jeff Urban

The former Gatorade, PepsiCo and Gannett executive is now co-founder of youth sports content startup The Whistle, which is scheduled for a late-September launch. He talks about making the transition from the established world of corporate sports marketing to an unproven new venture focused on today’s kids.

This idea is so big and with so much opportunity. Our biggest challenge is making sure we come out with the right voice and a fresh perspective for kids. It’s all about putting kids in control of their sports media.

On the value proposition of the The Whistle:
We offer kids an entertaining and authentic sports media experience, and the ability to personalize their experience and share it with their friends. … We offer parents a media experience for their kids that provides engaging sports media content, and a positive focus on sports without scandals or inappropriate adult advertising. … We offer our league, nonprofit and sponsor partners access to kids and parents in a positive, entertaining and values-driven way.

On working with properties such as the NFL and USOC, and earning their trust: It’s about the idea and our mission. Who doesn’t want to do right by kids and deliver them a great sports experience? The pillars of what sports can deliver to kids are so clear: good sportsmanship, critical thinking, a solid foundation of fitness and nutrition. Those ideals resonate across properties, and our mission is to deliver them where kids spend almost a third of each day: on screens.

On developing a startup brand versus a mature entity such as Gatorade: So different, but certainly leaning on many of the marketing tenets from that great brand. Know the customer. Be laser-focused on delivering them what they want. Learn and iterate quickly.

On defining success for The Whistle: We build a brand and experience where kids want to come, engage, personalize and share their sports experiences across a wide variety of sports when and where they want it.