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“STEM has become so important.” With Penny Bauder & Steve Suarez

STEM has become so important, and has become an integral part of how we educate children. Through Ultimate Gamer, we have created a program called Level Up! Where We will provide STEM opportunities, such as teaching kids how to code, but also focus on mental health and why physical health is important. I had the […]

STEM has become so important, and has become an integral part of how we educate children. Through Ultimate Gamer, we have created a program called Level Up! Where We will provide STEM opportunities, such as teaching kids how to code, but also focus on mental health and why physical health is important.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Steve Suarez, Chief Executive Officer at BlackStage Productions.

Steve Suarez is an entrepreneur with experience in conceptualizing, executing, and successfully sustaining growth in a broad range of disciplines. Steve’s driving philosophy has always been, and continues to be, providing vision and guidance, with a watchful eye on the bottom line. Early on, Steve identified that business is as much about when you get in, as it’s about what you get into. Deciding to open a title company during the South Florida real estate boom and selling to a law firm, before the downturn, inspired him to seek out other ripe opportunities. Steve purchased and subsequently sold ElPolitico.com website to the Global News Network, just as the climate of online punditry exploded. He also capitalized on the functional fitness trend by co-founding a global fitness festival called Wodapalooza. Steve sold this property in 2017, after 7 years, and it is now a sanctioned CrossFit regional event.

After that sale, Steve chose to fuel his passion for creating audience experiences by launching BlackStage Productions. His firm specializes in all aspects of event ideation and execution during a time where brands are compelled to creatively connect with their intended audiences. BlackStage has built an impressive client roster that includes the NFL, Formula 1 Racing, Concacaf Soccer, The Miami Marathon, Ultra Music festival, and many others. In early 2018, inspired by the current traction of ESports, Steve invested in a stadium and competition in Chattanooga, TN, TenGig. As a result of his conversations and connections he envisioned a new way to bring gaming to the growing number of enthusiasts around the world. His vision led him to create the Ultimate Gamer. The Ultimate Gamer’s inaugural tournament was held in Miami, in March of 2019 and has set the industry on its ear. Steve holds an MBA from the University of Florida.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share the “backstory” behind what brought you to this particular career path?

Ihave always been entrepreneurial. Early on, I worked in more corporate environments, where I sold multiple businesses. I always loved audience driven businesses, creating an unforgettable experience: whether it was an online audience with ElPolitico, or conceptualization and executing fitness festival Wodapalooza or launching BlackStage Productions, which specializes in all aspects of event ideation with an client roster that includes the NFL, Formula 1 Racing, Concacaf Soccer, The Miami Marathon, Ultra Music festival, the common thread is they are audience driven.

I had become involved in gaming in 2018, and as a result of my conversations and connections from that involvement, I envisioned a new way to bring gaming to the growing number of enthusiasts around the world. My vision led me to create the Ultimate Gamer. The Ultimate Gamer’s inaugural tournament was held in Miami, in March of 2019.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Wodapalooza was a happy accident. I was asked by a friend to put them in touch with a contact of mine, because he wanted to do crossfit classes at the park. I had attended the meeting with all intentions of just making an introduction, and I left the conversation creating what was ultimately Wodapalooza, which has since become a phenomenon. I sold Wodapalooza in 2018, but am very proud of what we built.

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 about that?

My wife. Being an entrepreneur is never easy, it’s a rollercoaster with highs and lows. She has been there through the ups, the downs, the wanting to quit, the haters, the incredible moments. I am an extremely passionate and persistent person, and she has always encouraged me to see challenges through, while she cares for our 3 boys, who are under 10.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I always have a charitable component at every event that we own. It’s an absolute must. Our organization is one of giving back. We plan to give 10% of all our profits to charities. In addition, we will have the first ever able gamer division in partnership with Microsoft, which I am personally excited about.

Ok fantastic. Let’s now move to the main focus of our discussion. Can you tell us about the technological innovations in toys or games that that you are working on?

Ultimate Gamer is an entertainment and technology organization with an eye on the future of eSports as it intersects with culture and lifestyle. Ultimate Gamer takes a multi-pronged approach aimed at celebrating gamers and gaming. It’s for the gamer, by the gamer.

How do you think this might disrupt the status quo?

Prior to this, you played “one” game, and that was “your” game. Ultimate Gamer encourages people to go out of their comfort zone. Also, we are opening this up to all skill levels, and making it an inclusive community.

You, of course, know that games and toys are not simply entertainment, but they can be used for important purposes. What is the “purpose” or mission behind your company? How do you think you are helping people or society?

It’s about creating a gaming community. For the gamer, by the gamer. We are finding the best gamer, this doesn’t exist. This will be where people meet, where there may be proposals in competitions, where the new “celebrities” are going to be created. Like-minded people are going to be joined together.

I’m very interested in the interface between games and education. How do you think more people (parents, teachers etc.) or institutions (work, school etc.) can leverage toys or gamification to enhance education?

STEM has become so important, and has become an integral part of how we educate children. Through Ultimate Gamer, we have created a program called Level Up! Where We will provide STEM opportunities, such as teaching kids how to code, but also focus on mental health and why physical health is important.

I know that this question may be outside of your core expertise, but I’m sure you will be able to share some important insight. In your opinion, how is the US doing with regard to engaging young people, and particularly girls and women in STEM subjects? Can you suggest ways we can increase this engagement?

I don’t think we are doing enough, especially for the underprivileged. This is something we are looking to attack head on through Ultimate Gamer. We have partnerships where we will be donating computers. Additionally, we are going to create programs to increase STEM opportunities available. On women, do you know that 48% of gamers are female? That is an incredible amount of women!

How would you define a “successful” game or toy? Can you share an example of a game or toy that you hold up as an aspiration?

The thing I loved most about Wodapalooza, was every year we would have friendships formed, proposals after the event, exciting life events coming out of our festival. We want long term friendships to be formed, we want to create community.

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. 🙂

That is what I am trying to create with Ultimate Gamer ;-).

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

“Anything is possible. Never quit ” This is just engrained in everything I do. I don’t take NO for an answer. I think about the underdogs, the kid in a remote area who was told that he could not do anything if all he does is game, and we want to create a safe place, where anyone can make money and become “celebrities” in gaming through our platform

How can our readers follow you on social media?

@the.ultimate.gamer

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