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Joey Brander, President and Managing Partner of the U.S.-based venture capital firm First Serve Partners, outlines in an interview with iSportconnect why the rise of esports will require traditional sport to engage younger generations in new ways.

Esports Will Help Shape the Future of Sport

There will be many companies at THE SPOT that innovate in their businesses. For First Serve Partners (FSP), innovation IS the business.

The U.S.-based venture capital firm invests across sports, media, and entertainment with a focus on millennials and GenZ-ers,bridging the gap between athletes/influencers and venture capital. FSP’s executive team, advisory board, and investor group includes 11 NFL Pro Bowl appearances, 4 NBA/NFL First Round Draft Picks, 2 Super Bowls, 2 national best-selling books, 1 NBA Championship, 1 Forbes Top 10 Keynote Speaker, 10 Emmy Awards, and an Oscar nomination.

“We are all about what’s new and what’s next,” said Joey Brander, President and Managing Partner of the U.S.-based venture capital firm, which will take part in THE SPOT’s session on Designing for the Future of Sport.

Having started his career in the media business throughout his youth (he was the youngest person to have his own weekly show on an ESPN Radio network), Joey has also consulted for multiple Fortune 500 companies and helped major professional athletes and influencers build brands.

In one of their more notable deals, First Serve Partners invested in leading esports organisation Splyce/OverActive Media, which owns a European League of Legends franchise as well as an Overwatch League franchise, the Toronto Defiant. OverActive Media recently made news in the industry by announcing global music sensation The Weeknd as an investor and Global Ambassador. 

“Traditional sports will always remain important in the future, but with the rise of esports, major traditional sports leagues and teams will continue to have a greater need to find innovative ways to engage younger generations,” Joey Brander said.

He summed the situation up by recounting a conversation he had recently with the CEO of an NBA team. The exec was concerned that at games, he saw the majority of young people in the crowd were constantly looking at their phones. And he asked, ‘How can I get them off their phones?’”

“My answer was that the question should be a different one. It should be ‘How can I make sure that when young people are on their devices, they are doing something that allows me to engage them, further develop our team’s relationship with them, monetize what they are doing, and deliver value to our partners and sponsors?’”

He said, “esports have done a phenomenal job in engaging younger audiences and they have done it from the top down, both in digital and at the events themselves. That success in the millennial and GenZ demographics is what attracted us to esports, and the thinking, culture, and innovative nature of esports will have a profound influence on the future of traditional sports for years to come.” 

By Jay Stuart, Editor at iSportconnect

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