MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: VAVi Sport and Social Club - Electric Run
Steve Stoloff, CEO
Latane Meade, President
SDSI: 30 seconds on VAVi.
VAVi: VAVi brings fun to life for over 90,000 active young professionals in Southern California. We produce co-ed adult sports leagues, large social events and running events like the Del Mar Mud Run and the Ridiculous Obstacle Challenge. Our membership is as diverse as the activities we offer, ranging from young adults right out of college looking to meet new friends, to the soccer mom who wants to get in her playing time too! And best of all, we give back to the community through volunteerism and fundraising for great organizations like the Challenged Athletes Foundation.
SDSI: Where did the idea for the Electric Run come from?
VAVi: The Electric Run lives at the intersection of two incredible trends – there’s an explosion of fun runs throughout the country (The Color Run, Warrior Dash) as well as an explosion of Electronic Dance Music. These activities may seem worlds apart, but they’re really not: people who enjoy having fun also want to be healthy…why not do both at the same time? The Electric Run bridges the two worlds, giving people that extra bit of motivation to get off the couch and run, while also creating a safe, festival-like experience for people who enjoy EDM music but are turned off by the “rave” scene.
SDSI: How did VAVi get involved?
VAVi: VAVi’s Mud Run and ROC Race have gained widespread attention in the Race Industry. We were introduced with Dan Hill, the founder of the Ragnar Relay series, to help us build a national, touring series. We invited him to join our board of directors last year, and he approached us with this idea to form a new company in June. With our collective resources, network and experience, we decided to go for it. It has been an incredible experience working together with the all-star team that we’ve assembled, and we’re excited for what 2013 has in store for us!
SDSI: You have an impressive line-up of partners, artists and designers involved with the operations and production of the Electric Run. How did some of those relationships come about?
VAVi: VAVi has been “bringing fun to life” since 2002, and we’ve developed some strong relationships over the years…especially in the past few years as we’ve developed and built our Del Mar Mud Run and Ridiculous Obstacle Challenge. We have some great partners that have helped develop those events, which are both extremely popular with nearly 10,000 participants each. We’ve also developed a great partnership with Active.com throughout the years. The CEO of Active introduced us to Dan, who’s developed an equally incredible network with his 8+ years building the Ragnar Relay. In the past 6 months, the Electric Run has built a board that includes Shaun Neff (founder of Neff Headwear), Travis Snyder (founder of the Color Run) and Eric McCue (GM of Active).
SDSI: Electric Run’s Facebook page has over 110,000 ‘Likes’ in less than five months! What’s your secret?
VAVi: It wouldn’t be a secret if we told you, now would it? Seriously though, Dan Hill is a branding genius, and he sparked the fire on Facebook that went viral. VAVi has a strong social media team, and we’ve taken over daily management of the social media efforts including contests, beautifully artistic/viral posts, and a set advertising budget per market.
SDSI: How else are you spreading the word and what have people’s response been to getting involve?
VAVi: VAVi helped pioneer the Sport and Social Industry Association (SSIA), a network of Sport and Social Clubs similar to VAVi that exist across the country representing over 1.5 million active young professionals. Most have developed an incredible grassroots network within their own local sports community, and usually have good connections to local media and PR that helps build buzz. The Electric Run creates a tremendous economic opportunity for each club, and they have all been incredibly excited to get involved.
SDSI: How will the San Diego Electric Run on Feb 2 be different than those in other city’s particularly the race in Orange County this past November?
VAVi: Each venue is different, so the features will be specifically designed for the Del Mar Fairgrounds. We expect a similar sized crowd of about 10,000 participants, but we will also have two additional races of experience to help fine-tune our experience. OC was our first-ever event and we got some great feedback on what we’re doing well and what we can improve. San Diego is our back yard, so we’re expecting the event to be the best yet!
SDSI: How did VAVi’s experience running the Del Mar Mud Run and the Ridiculous Optical Challenge (ROC) contribute to the Electric Run?
VAVi: Many of the people who’ve contributed to the success of the Mud Run and ROC Race have been instrumental in helping to develop the Electric Run concept. That combined with Dan Hill’s experience running a national touring event has been invaluable as we’ve ramped up our efforts!
SDSI: What’s next for VAVi?
VAVi: We’re just excited to be able to work in such a fun industry, and will continue to grow our local sports leagues, support the growth of our industry through the SSIA, and launch bigger and better activities that our customers love!
SDSI: How would you like to see SDSI support the growth of the Social Participatory Event Industry - Electric Run, ROC, Mud Run, Color Run, Warrior Dash)
VAVi: This industry is booming – the #9 company on Inc 500’s annual list was Red Frog Events, producer of the Warrior Dash with over $50MM in revenue. Warrior Dash launched in 2009. The Color Run is the largest running series based on # of participants in HISTORY with nearly 700,000 runners in 2012…and they launched in January. There is a tremendous amount of interest and activity in these “fun runs”, and the bar is being raised constantly in terms of what consumer’s expect from their interaction with these brands. Everything from the marketing through to the event day experience is becoming increasingly sophisticated, and with the amount of money being generated, there are certainly opportunities for service and technology providers to build better tools to support this growing industry.
SDSI: How did VAVi get involved in SDSI?
VAVi: VAVi has been involved with CONNECT since 2008 through the Springboard Program, and joined the original group, Action Sports Innovators when it first launched. At the time, the scope was too narrow, but in recent years with the addition of Lisa, Renne and Garrett, VAVi has rejoined in a much larger capacity. SDSI is a great resource for sports entrepreneurs, and we’re excited to participate in the group and give back to the local start up community.
SDSI: One piece of advice for a young entrepreneur?
VAVi: To steal Nike’s slogan, “just do it”. If you have a great idea, put it in motion. Test it out. There’s no need to make a huge commitment – there are plenty of ways to test market demand on the cheap (read 4-Hour Workweek for more info). You don’t need a million dollars in the bank to start a company these days, with all of the amazing tools that are available at low to no cost. It also helps to be an SDSI member, and bounce your idea off of some of the great mentors that exist within this network. As long as you have the drive and desire to succeed, and take smart risks, the sky is the limit.
SDSI: Is there anything you would like to add about the Electric Run, VAVi or SDSI?
Thanks SDSI for giving us this opportunity to showcase our company and our newest event! GO VAVi!
Learn more at electricrun.com