In this series, we uncover the inspirational stories and insights from the world’s most interesting entrepreneurs. Earlier this week, we caught up with Dan Soviero from Signature Lacrosse. Dan’s company created the “Signature Premium Ball”, which quickly became the most trusted ball in the NCAA, the Official Ball of Professional Lacrosse, and the Official Ball of Federation of International Lacrosse.
Dan shared his entrepreneur journey from an unknown startup to an industry leader.
1) What inspired you to be an entrepreneur?
When I was 10-11 years old, my brother and I were always hustling to make a buck. We always wanted things that cost money, and our parents gave us the opportunity to work to be able to afford those things. So from a very young age, we had a good work ethic. We were also fortunate enough to have parents that grossly underpaid us for our manual labor in the yard which we realized at a young age.
What really sparked our “entrepreneurial spirit” was our realization that working in the yard at the house was us selling our time for cheap and if we could sell products then we could make the same money we make in a few hours of work in 1 transaction. So we started hocking football cards, building up Runescape accounts and selling them, picking mangoes from the neighborhood tree’s and selling them. One thing led to another and here we are.
I founded Signature Lacrosse because I wanted to make the game better. I realized lacrosse balls at that time would grease and harden too easily and too quickly. Many lacrosse balls at that time would perform inconsistently because there were air bubbles inside them, and I wanted to change that. As a company, we’ve sought to improve more than just the lacrosse ball within the sport, and we now offer lacrosse sticks and goals.
This video highlights Signature Lacrosse’s journey as a company.
2) How are you making a positive difference in the world?
At our core, we are making sports more accessible, giving kids an opportunity to experience how sports can change their life, and reducing the hassle of ordering uniforms and fan gear. Our company’s mission is to “Grow the Game through problem solving products for the players, by the players.” We make products that make it easier to learn the game; we create instructional videos for players and upload them to our YouTube channel to ensure players can keep improving their skills even if they lack access to a coach or training program.
Our Signature Partner Program Team Stores takes the hassle out of coaches ordering uniforms and fan gear, as individual families and players can order their own uniforms and fan gear in the correct sizing and have it delivered to their houses. This lets coaches focus their time and energy on the game itself instead of ordering uniforms.
We also have created a culture at Signature that focuses on personal growth, creating meaningful relationships, having meaningful work, being completely transparent in our business handlings, and teaching how to utilize failures and feedback as a learning tool. This has led to the creation of leaders in our company and community and of an environment that is great to grow in.
3) What has been the greatest positive impact you have seen your clients or customers face from working directly with you?
Our Greatest Positive Impact would have to be the Signature Partner Program Team Store Solution that we just launched, as this removes the unpaid work formerly required of the Program Director related to uniform ordering. With an average-sized program of approximately 200 kids, we are able to instantly make our clients +$15k more profitable without involving the Program Director and without the hassle.
We are also rolling out a subscription model option where every first-year player who signs up for a qualifying program will receive a Signature Junior Complete Lacrosse Stick for free! The Signature Junior Lacrosse Sticks are designed to make learning the sport of lacrosse more fun and in turn help, the program retain more players and grow their program!
4) What does being a purpose-driven business mean to you?
Being a purpose-driven business means having a vision that’s bigger than just creating wealth for yourself or your team. The vision has to have a meaningful positive impact on the world by leaving it better than when you found it. You have to start by having purpose-driven team members with an aligned vision and then cascade that vision into a tactical plan to turn the vision into a reality.
Once your purpose-driven team members are matched with roles that suit them and begin excelling at their responsibilities, the magic starts to happen. Everyone is aligned and intrinsically motivated by the company’s vision and mission, and you have a well oiled purpose-driven business.
5) How did you pivot your business during the pandemic?
We focused on doing what we do best: problem-solving innovation to add disproportionate value to our clients. Specifically, we focused our time on software and supply chain development for a game-changing solution to the biggest problem we have found in youth sports: Ordering uniforms and custom fan gear. This process used to suck and be a hassle for Program Directors, but not anymore!
Say goodbye to minimum order quantities, 6-8 week lead times, 2 weeks pop up stores, and all the headaches of collecting and distributing orders for the families in your lacrosse program! We’ve launched a 24/7/365 team store solution with the widest selection of custom fan gear (hats, windbreakers, shirts, even water bottles, and phone cases) and fully sublimated premium uniforms. The whole idea is to solve the archaic uniform/fan gear ordering process – no more 2-week order deadlines, no more minimums, no more headache.
6) What are your top 5 tips for new or aspiring entrepreneurs?
My top top five tips would be:
-Be relentless. Your success won’t happen overnight, and you will face challenges, but you can overcome them by being relentless in pursuing your goals.
-Get good at sales. You’re going to have to sell your idea at some point, whether it’s a product or a service, and being good at sales will increase your chances of success as an entrepreneur.
-Have a passion for what you’re doing. My passion for improving lacrosse equipment and making the sport accessible to all has guided me to where we are today and to where we’re going in the future.
-Build and inspire a team of A-players. Don’t be afraid to include others as you’re starting your company. We worked with a rubber chemist to create our Premium Lacrosse Balls because we realized we couldn’t develop the ball’s chemical composition on our own.
-Be good to yourself and the people you love and always put that above business. You can’t have a successful business without having people who want to work with or support you, nor can you succeed when you’re burnt out.
To learn more about Signature Lacrosse’s team stores partner program go here.