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Chase Garrett of Icon Source: “You have the most to lose in your organization”

As a founder, you have the most to lose in your organization. Starting a business is a challenge that is going to need a lot of good people to pull off. I believe the best way to quickly earn trust and respect is build strong credibility before you launch your business so that walking away […]

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As a founder, you have the most to lose in your organization. Starting a business is a challenge that is going to need a lot of good people to pull off. I believe the best way to quickly earn trust and respect is build strong credibility before you launch your business so that walking away from your current opportunity is a big statement and put your savings dollars on the line. Anyone can start a new company that doesn’t have any better options on the table, but it is going to be a challenge to build a team that is capable to taking the business to a successful place if you aren’t risking anything. Good talent and good investors aren’t sitting around without other options.


As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Chase Garrett.

Chase, founder and CEO of Icon Source, has been at the forefront of professional sports, as a professional athlete, sports agent, sports brand marketer and now, entrepreneur of a pioneering athlete-agent-brand exchange. From managing athletes and agents across the NFL, NBA, MLB, tennis and cycling, as well as some of the more visible Winter Olympic sports, he has led award-winning activation at the Super Bowl, Monaco, F1, Wimbledon, XGames, US Open, Americas Cup and Kona Ironman.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I have worked in sports marketing my entire career from racing motocross at a very high level as an athlete to transitioning into a sports agent and working with a few close friends in my network. Later, I had the opportunity to join Red Bull with their athlete marketing team and build out a very diverse roster of athletes across Tennis (Viktoria Azarenka), NFL (Reggie Bush), MLB (Kris Bryant), NBA (Dante Exum), and the typical Action Sports and Olympic athletes Red Bull is known for. Through that process I was able to really understand the business models that live within each sport disciplines and saw the need for an evolution. I wanted to disrupt the space while not cutting anyone out of the picture, so I focused on building a marketplace that current agents can use as a tool to better expose their portfolio of athletes to a much larger group of brands that now can have a seat at the table in sports marketing. Through optimizing the process to be much more inviting, I can increase the overall participation in the world of athlete marketing.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

The sports marketing world is made up of powerful personal relationships that get things done. Until now, no one that had the ability to create a change saw the incentive to invest their time and resources into it. With my unique background in so many different sport landscapes and the knowledge of how a world class brand works with athletes, I felt I could create a platform that is a bolt-on tool to empower companies of every size to have the authority of a billion dollar sports marketing brand. Through our platform one can search across all 600 athletes to find the best fit based on Geographic relevance, mutual likes and interest, sport, gender, social media demographics, and many other filters. We then take the user through our contract wizard that asks all the necessary questions to have a proper offer ready to take to the athlete or their agent. This allows the agent to field more deals since they are 70% of the way there by the time they first arrive vs having to educate each brand that might be interested in doing a one off opportunity. It also provides a much deeper relevance for athletes that hadn’t previously been targeted to work with brands and don’t have a clear understanding of where to begin. With all contracts, communication, and payments running though our service it provides a secure organized central hub for any brand to manage and athlete ambassador program of any size.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Very early on I instantly went to a lot of high-profile experts in their respective fields to help build the different areas of my business so that I could flex our team and credibility. I quickly learned two things. First, a lot of respected experts don’t have the experience and willingness to execute the plans and dreams they come up with, which is very painful when you’re a startup and bet big on those people. Second, sometimes passion in your mission, and belief in you as a founder is more important than the amazing resume a person can bring to the table. I found that if the person I was engaging with wasn’t thinking about the business all the time coming up with new solutions I would quickly get bumped off their priority list. These are both painful and expensive lessons in terms of time and money.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

Without a doubt the only reason I can pursue this venture is with the guidance of my dad, who is my best friend. I am very fortunate to have a resource I can bounce ideas off and help direct me through some of the difficult decisions a new founder runs into. He has so much experience starting, building, and exiting businesses that it has really provided us with an advantage. It mostly comes in the form of quick words of advice like “Focus on willing participants” where he will then follow up with a long story of how he faced a similar challenge that we are up against. He doesn’t do the work for us, but helps us avoid a lot of mistakes.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

The important thing to focus on when deciding if disrupting is a good idea or thing to do is digging into what is the reason you are wanting to disrupt. If user experience is being enhanced, or waste is being removed, or a more cost-effective way is being provided to the end user then it is most likely going to bring the world to a better place. If the driver of the disruption is based on need for attention, short term profit, or just because you have the influence it is most likely going to be temporary and a waste of resources time long term. If the mission is going to be better for the end user and the world we live in, bring on disruption!

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

As a founder, you have the most to lose in your organization. Starting a business is a challenge that is going to need a lot of good people to pull off. I believe the best way to quickly earn trust and respect is build strong credibility before you launch your business so that walking away from your current opportunity is a big statement and put your savings dollars on the line. Anyone can start a new company that doesn’t have any better options on the table, but it is going to be a challenge to build a team that is capable to taking the business to a successful place if you aren’t risking anything. Good talent and good investors aren’t sitting around without other options.

Decide early on if you believe in yourself, then go all in and don’t look back. Starting a business will have plenty emotional highs and lows that make you question a lot, but never allow yourself to question if you are the one to pull it off. I had to sit back and ask myself what kind of experience someone would need to have to build a company that will disrupt this industry like I am doing, and I settled on myself. Until you can do that honestly, I don’t think it is a good idea to become an entrepreneur.

Work hard. Nothing ensures success more than out working everyone. Make it a part of the company culture to deliver perfection above expectations always. This was instilled in me during my time working at Red Bull, which has proven to be one of the largest privately held companies in the world and they never took on investment. You have to work super hard to build that kind of story.

Lead generation is one of the most important aspects of any business. Can you share some of the strategies you use to generate good, qualified leads?

Initially we focused heavily on warm natural connections that started to grow organically through word of mouth. We are now ramping up into strong digital marketing campaigns with lead generation through gated content across different social platforms. We then take those leads into an email marketing campaign, which we sift through to find our perfect “Ideal Customer Profile” that we reach out to directly. We are still on the early stages, which means we are making small iterations on our lead process to be more targeted week by week.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

We are going to capture the entire College student athlete NIL (name, image, likeness) endorsement opportunity that will be rolling out in 2021. We took our proven platform that has brough new revenue dollars to professional athletes and tweaked it slightly to be the perfect solution to scale the new opening of collegiate athlete endorsements. These athletes need a robust system that will protect them with contract templates and payment processes that our platform can scale nationwide today.

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

“Know What you’re FOR” by Jeff Henderson

A growth strategy for work, an even better strategy for life.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Major on the majors”

Focus on nailing the importance decisions in your life, and don’t let daily details derail your happiness, goals, and legacy. I double down on my spiritual walk, my relationship with my soon to be wife (Sept. 20th), and my business. Each of those eb and flow with the daily disruptions, but I am confident in their direction. You get a few things right, life unfolds nicely.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Much of my life I was always focused on what I could get out of an event, relationship, or new opportunity for myself, what if we all focused on what can we invest in those moments to give back and making every room we walk into better?

How can our readers follow you online?

Instagram: ChaseGarrett23

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chasegarrett

Listen to Chase’s podcast, The Inside Source: https://open.spotify.com/show/5lwsJC06dReLOMfhOsOyg4

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