…How important it is to have a staff that is passionate and committed to your business. It is hard early on as a CEO to allow others to work on things that you have been envisioning from day 1. You are the one that has been thinking about the business 24/7. So, it becomes hard to let other people come in and take the role of executing your vision. Then you when you get rolling, you realize that their ideas might be better than yours. At that point, it gets easy.
Kevin Davidson or “K.D.” as he is affectionately known, is the acting CEO of Orlando based DS Sports Ventures, LLC, and the visionary behind the groundbreaking new software, BaseballCloud. KD is a graduate of Rollins College (’02) and spent the better of 7 seasons in the Houston Astros organization as a catcher. When an injury cut his career short in 2007, he embarked on a new career as a financial advisor. KD eventually made his way back to the diamond, but this time as a manager in the Florida Collegiate Summer League, of which he is now the Chairman of the Board. KD has been recognized and honored by being named to “Orlando’s Top 40 under 40” businesspeople and helped raise over seven million dollars for local charities. KD’s mark on the game of baseball in the state of Florida is undeniable and has quickly expanded to a national footprint as he leads DS Sports Ventures to the forefront of the data revolution in baseball. BaseballCloud was born from KD’s goal to change the way data is viewed, processed and utilized by providing players, coaches, trainers and scouts a platform to access data in a centralized and resourceful location. Educating the sports market on how data can revolutionize talent and performance is the foundation for creating this groundbreaking software. Over 60 major colleges in the United States have implemented the technology that DS Sports Ventures and Baseball Cloud are responsible for developing, with demand growing daily.
Thank you so much for joining us KD! Can you tell us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Yes, thank you for having me. I found this path by accident, actually. After my professional baseball career, I was managing money for a lot of Major League players. While doing that, I started seeing data playing a role in the way the teams were paying my players and determining the lengths of their contracts. So, I reached out to a guy in my network that knew the most about data, Wes Johnson. I knew Wes for a few years at that time, because he would send me some of his players during summer ball while coaching in the Florida Collegiate Summer League for fun. Wes started showing me “the data” and I was so confused because it was just an excel spreadsheet. My ah-ha moment was then. That’s when I learned the difference between data and software, then BaseballCloud was created.
Can you share one of the major challenges you encountered when first leading the company? What lesson did you learn from that?
The biggest challenge has been deciding what data sources to prioritize. There are so many great data capturing tools out there that we had to really get focused and master the digestion of them. While doing that, it ended up being a positive situation. We got a chance to really learn what these organizations and colleges want on one interface and how they wanted it represented. Now, we are going through that all over again as we are building out the player portal.
What are some of the factors that you believe led to your eventual success?
My team. My team is why we are here. They are rock stars. I am so thankful for the group of people I have with me every day. They are as passionate about our company as I am and that is a big deal in this industry.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO”? Please share a story or an example for each.
- How much planning and detail you must have prior to starting your first line of code when starting a software company. I was thinking it was going to be as easy as creating some cool charts and graphs with all this data. I quickly realized how much I take technology for granted and what all went into building out those products we use on a day to day basis. Every day we push a button and that button redirects you to another location and you do it repeatedly. I mean, someone had to say when they push this button, go here or go there. It is amazing. I find myself watching Netflix now and click fast forward on a movie and think someone had to engineer this system to allow us to push this button and stop at this point. This stuff is nuts.
- How much work really goes into starting a business. I learned very quickly that having an idea and then executing it involves much more than I had imagined. None of it is rocket science really, just time consuming and requires a certain type of skill set. Once I realized that I did not have that skill set, I went out and found the best person I knew that had it. She is now our COO and we would never be where we are as a company without her.
- How important it is to have a staff that is passionate and committed to your business. It is hard early on as a CEO to allow others to work on things that you have been envisioning from day 1. You are the one that has been thinking about the business 24/7. So, it becomes hard to let other people come in and take the role of executing your vision. Then you when you get rolling, you realize that their ideas might be better than yours. At that point, it gets easy.
- I wish someone would have taught me about the term garbage in/garbage out. That is a term used in the data world that essentially means if you put low-quality data in, you are going to get poor quality results. But the problem is, with the volume of data that we deal with, it is very hard to go through all that data to scrub it before putting it on BaseballCloud. So, in our case, my partner Corey Whiting had to spend months developing code to automate the data quality control process. That was a massive headache, but at the same time we were able to build out a whole new product, that many of the MLB teams and even data capturing companies are licensing from us now.
- How to manage your staff. I always thought I would be somewhat good at it because I have been a catcher and a manager in baseball. Both of those require managing people. As a catcher, you are managing your pitching staff and as a manager, you are managing the team. Both are baseball players. Pretty simple stuff. Well, when running a business, you are doing the same, but now the people you are managing range from a 22-year-old male college graduate analytics junkie to a 55-year-old mother of 4 who loves to manage events. That was eye-opening.
What advice would you give to your colleagues to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
I am probably not the guy to ask this to. I do not have an off button. When you are passionate about something, I don’t think that it is possible to burn out. But we will see what the data tells us. LOL
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story? Well I have two. My partner Joe Sleiman for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to pursue this opportunity. The other is Bruce Quinn. Bruce is a very successful technology mogul and has built and sold several technology companies. He strongly advised me to not be stubborn and let the market determine our direction. In the software world, you must be able to pivot at any time and do what the market tells you. And MAN, I hate to give him credit, but he was 100% correct. That is a real thing.
What are some of the goals you still have and are working to accomplish, both personally and professionally?
Personally, I want to be a great father. I want to be a great husband.
Professionally, I want BaseballCloud to be everyone’s first thought when they think about player development.
What do you hope to leave as your lasting legacy?
I want to be known as the guy you never bet against. That is really it. Don’t bet against me.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would enhance people’s lives in some way, what would it be? You never know what your idea can trigger!
That is a tough one for me. I have a lot of ideas that swim around this head of mine. I would have to say a movement that is more supportive of single moms. I was raised by a single mom and got to see firsthand how hard it is for a single mom to make a living and still be there for her children. My mom worked 3 jobs and still was able to attend all my sporting events. It wasn’t easy but she did it. It was a grind for her, but I think it taught me many valuable lessons that I believe have stayed with me as I have grown up and entered the real world. Although she was able to successfully do it, many single mothers could not have
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Personal Twitter: @catchkd7
BaseballCloud Twitter Handle: @BaseballCloudUS
BaseballCloud Facebook: @BaseballCloudUS