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The Breakdown EP 48: Becoming an Entrepreneur with Former NFL Player Ryan Mundy

The Breakdown EP 48: Becoming an Entrepreneur with Former NFL Player Ryan Mundy


– Alright. Happy Wednesday; it is
September 5th, 2018. Welcome back to the Breakdown. Today we have Ryan Mundy joining us. Ryan is a former NFL
player turned entrepreneur. – [Ryan] Yup. – Played for what? Steelers… – [Together] The Giants and the Bears. – [Ryan] Yeah. – So today, we’re gonna talk about Ryan’s journey from the
NFL to entrepreneurship. And right now he’s in the middle
of a Kickstarter campaign, so we’re gonna check in on
how that Kickstarter’s going, and hear about a couple other
projects he’s working on. But first I wanna ask, how are
the Bears gonna be this year? (laughing) – You know, they had a
really good past week with the acquisition of Mack. And I was already bullish
on the Bear defense. That’s a nice play on words. (laughing) Yeah, I thought they were already
going to be pretty strong, but when you have the
opportunity to add a guy who’s a former defensive MVP and top tier at his position, not only at his position, but probably just defense in general, I think that was a very solid move and there’s been questions
around whether that was too much to give up for a guy like that. That’s a TBD. (laughing) But you gotta take that shot and I think the Bears will
be significantly improved. They won’t give up a lot of points, but the key is scoring points. And there are still some
question marks around that. But I think they’ll be
able to run the ball, and if they can strategically
make some good first downs and third down conversions, they got a good shot at winning. – Cool, I’m gonna hold you to that. I that you, eh whatever. (laughing) So the reason so, a couple years ago, you and I got to talking
because you were curious about how we do some
things with the transition here at Bunker Labs.
– Yup, yup. – And the similarities between
transitioning out of the NFL. Like the parallels between
that and transitioning out of the military, and they’re close. – Mm-hmm. – You spend a couple of
years doing one thing and doing it really, really well. – Mm-hmm. – And then moving into something that not many people understand. The military population is a
larger population than the NFL. 1% of Americans pay a whole lot. So we got talking through that. And you had interests at
the time in entrepreneurship and I guess to take it back a notch, while you were playing football, did you know you wanted
to be an entrepreneur? Did you know you wanted
to work for yourself? Did you go to school during the NFL? – Yeah. – Or graduate school I guess,
obviously college and then… – Yeah, so just really briefly
touching on those parallels, athletes just like service
men and women spend a lot of time developing
their physical and mental to get them to perform
at the highest level day in and day out. And to your point, that’s
something that not a lot of folks can relate to and understand. So I was really intrigued to come here and just figure out what the
transition process looked like and what you guys were offering. Because I knew those parallels existed, and there was no reason
why guys from the NFL or service men and women
shouldn’t start to cross pollinate and have some shared
experiences about hey, like I’m transitioning from something that I committed my life to and I
performed at a very high level. And now I’m not
necessarily able to do that on a day-to-day basis.
– Sure. – So what does that look like for me? So after I, you know, you guys were doing a great job with that and it’s something that hopefully we can mirror and mimic with
the transitioning athletes, not only from the NFL, but
just from sports in general. I had no idea I wanted
to be an entrepreneur. You know, I didn’t see, you know, being in it, now recently just made a post about it, on my Instagram is being in something so
intimately playing football, you don’t really have an
opportunity to smell the roses or to appreciate what you’re doing. Or to even think about what
you would want to do afterward. So I didn’t necessarily have a strong plan of what I wanted to do when
I retired from the NFL. But I knew two things. One, I knew I was self-identifying as more than a football player, so I wasn’t tying my whole
self-worth into being an athlete. And then two, although I
played eight years in the NFL and I made a nice piece of change, I didn’t make enough money to not do anything for
the rest of my life. – Sure, sure. – And I didn’t wanna do, I didn’t wanna fall into that category, so I needed to figure something out. So I started taking advantage of executive education opportunities that were provided by the
NFL at Wharton, Notre Dame, and that program was
actually on entrepreneurship, but at the time, I wasn’t able to generate ideas or wasn’t able to look at the world with a certain point of view. I knew that ultimately culminated with me the following year
starting MBA course work at the University of
Miami, Florida in 2015. And then that following
season, I had back surgery. So I didn’t play that year of 2015. And that was when the
paradigm started to shift and I really had to start
putting things into motion and think about what life
looked like after football. And so, the way things work
out, when you’re active things just start to come together. So I had already started
that process to prepare. And then so I finished
up my business degree in the summer of 2016. And yeah, I was like alright. I don’t wanna play football anymore, but still had no idea what I wanted to do, but knew I was curious enough to go out and explore the
world and that’s what I did. – Right, so when I peg the parallels, I’m taking away from that
in this context is like, you had an idea that there
was a life after football. Like for service men and women, there’s a life after service. And I think that what’s
cool is you were like, I’m in this situation right now where I’m playing professional football. Pretty cool, you know.
– Mm-hmm. – But like you said, it’s not all you are. You have so much more to give beyond that. – Sure. – So you started focusing on that. – Mm-hmm. – And in preparing yourself
for that transition before it was too late basically. – Yeah. – So, something like that
I’m sure that you share with other players. Current, past, and so I just think it’s really cool. I think that’s a really common story. – It is. The key is I think for
athletes, service men and women again to start thinking about okay, what am I physically doing? Got it, but then start to tap
into that mental state and say well, what is driving me
or what is allowing me to do what I’m doing? To put my life on the line or to run into somebody at full speed? Because that’s not something
that the common person would want to do.
– Right. – They wouldn’t want to subject themselves to physical, mental duress. – Sure. – They have to figure out
what type of characteristics allow me to do that.
– Mm-hmm. – That’s grit. That’s determination. That’s focus. That’s discipline. That’s leadership. All these wonderful adjectives that describe you at your core. So now you just take, strip away the act of
running into somebody or being in combat or what have you, but you’re still that same person. – Right. – You still have those same
qualities and characteristics. Now just reapply them in a new setting, and you will be light years ahead of, not competition or
people in the workplace. Whatever it is. But just being able to
reapply those intrinsic values I think is a game changer. – Yeah, that was really well said. So it’s like, now you’re
running full speed into… – Spreadsheets.
– Yeah, spreadsheets, yeah. – I’m tackling Excel
spreadsheets and stuff like that. And emails. – So speaking of which,
what are you working on now? – Yeah, so when I got, when I retired from the NFL, I got really curious
about venture capital. And specifically early
stage venture capital. And started to just drum
up and talk to folks, and learn about what that looked like. And ultimately culminated with me starting an
investment management company. Techlete Ventures, where
I invested in sports, health and leisure, and
digital media opportunities. Tech and non-tech related, and even within the tech sector, I know quite a bit about crypto, tokenization, and blockchain. So that’s been a great process
and it’s just me doing that. I’m a mercenary angel investor. I invest off my own
personal balance sheet. – Where are you learning? Like how did you learn about this stuff? – Google. – Yeah?
– Yeah. I did a lot of Googling. Reading books, podcasts, YouTube. YouTube is probably my best mentor. – Yeah. – Yeah, I’m a self-starter. – Mm-hmm. – And I think again, when you
strip away the physical out, but start to care, it will transition those physical, well excuse me, intrinsic characteristics. That can definitely reapply to what else? Being a self-starter, and I think both athletes
and service men and women are most certainly self-starters. – Sweet. So you’re getting that, and
then I’m gonna bring it up. Kickstarter, you’re in the
middle of it right now. Literally in the middle of it.
– I’m in the middle of it. – What’s the product? What was the goal? Where are you at? – So, I started a metal
straw company called “SWZLE”. – Mm-hmm. – And SWZLE is a, we empower consumers
on an individual level with a sustainable solution to reduce their plastic consumption. – Sure. – What does that mean? There’s a big movement
against plastic straws going on in this country right now. Organizations like Starbucks, Disney. McDonald’s is on the horizon. Restaurant groups,
hospitality groups, etc. They’re all moving away
from plastic straws because they pollute our
ocean and environment. Everyday 500 million
straws go into landfills or the ocean and ultimately, videos go viral from straws
getting stuck in turtles’ nose and birds exploding because they have so much plastic in them. So it’s a very big problem
that we have on our hands. And with that, problems need solutions. And so when you think about
what is the alternative from plastic straws? You could either go paper or metal. Inherently, paper straws have
a big time quality issue. They’ll break down in your drink. They don’t hit your palette well. So me and my business partner, we thought metal straws
would be a great solution and value add to a lot of folks. And right now to your point, we’re running a Kickstart campaign. We just launched a week ago. And we’ve already reached
our goal of $12,500, but we’re trying to
blow that off the water. And what we’re offering is a consumer pack that has two straws and a brush. And the cool thing about it is, this pack fits in your bag. You could get it from point A to point B, and you could have your
own personal straw. – What’s that cost? – $20 on the kickstarter.
– 20 bucks. – We had some early backer specials where you could get two for $30. If you go to SWZLE.com and
sign up on our email list, we are going to release
some more specials next week to try to finish our campaign strong. – So what are you doing now? So you’re obviously here,
it’s like 5 o’clock. What are you doing all the other day? Like so you’re in the
middle of this campaign, what are you doing like to fuel the fire? Kind of keep that thing bringing in money. – Yeah. Interviews. (laughing) I had two interviews yesterday. I was on WGN Morning News, and then I did the Roe Conn
radio show in the evening. But yeah, stuff like this. Doing a lot of press. You know, working with
our service providers to make sure that our
content, our messaging, and our campaign managers
are doing their job. Continuing to reach out to my
network and drum up interest and asking a post on social. Excuse me, so it’s pretty busy right now. – Cool, you have two weeks left, right? – Yeah, two weeks. – That’s awesome. What was it like, so, actually I wanna say
I was really impressed with what I saw. Your Kickstarter came out and I was like, didn’t Starbucks, this article
came out like a month ago that Starbucks was trying
to get rid of all straws or all plastic by like 2022 or something. Or straws by 2020. And then, yeah, a month
later I see you’re launching. – Yeah.
– Great timing on that. – Yeah, that’s a part of life, timing. – Yeah, well what steps,
what preparation did you take leading up to the launch? We talked about this for those
who watched the Breakdown last week, we talked about crowdfunding. And how it’s really
important to generate lists, to find your like, the people who are like guaranteed to give you money. That’s like your best friends, you know. It’s like you’re gonna give me 30 bucks. You’re gonna give me 40 bucks.
– Right. – What sorts of stuff were you doing I guess like a month ago
to prepare for this launch? – Yeah, so that’s a good question because maybe about six weeks ago, this business didn’t even exist. But it was something that
my business partner and I, we had multiple conversations about, drew up some sketches, but never
actually pulled the trigger until we started to
see some dominoes fall. And once we ultimately pulled the trigger, the first thing we did
was go get our trademark, licensing, LLC, all that good stuff, and then really started to
curate lists to your point of saying like, okay well,
here’s my email contact list. Here’s your email contact list. And then think about what
the messaging looks like for those lists because you need somebody
to manage that campaign. We have a 22 day campaign,
so we needed somebody to actively manage that campaign for us. So, the biggest thing I think is just identifying what you need done, and then finding the best possible people at your price point to them done. – Right, right, right. ‘Cause I saw it in your campaign. It’s like a video and
someone’s gotta do it, yeah. – I’m not a video guy, but we
went out and got a video guy. I didn’t design the case. I could tell the designer what
the case should look like, but he has to go and do that. I didn’t design our page,
but they send it to me and I say, well I would like
to see this enter that and so. – Sure, sure. – Making sure that you have
those type of efficiencies in place so that you could just focus on the overall macro-vision, because there’s so much
that goes into crowdfunding. It’s a lot, so you definitely wanna be
as efficient as possible. – Sure. And then, I guess, I mean, man. We’ve talked for a while about this. What else has been interesting you? You said you were dabbling in crypto. – Yeah, yeah I do. I spend a lot of time in crypto actually. I’ve been in it for about a year. And was exclusively focused
on it for about six months heading into like February 2018. So I know what the technology is. I know what a good investment
looks like in that space. And most recently, literally yesterday I just wrapped up an online
course for some credentials in saying like, I know what I know. (laughing) But I took an online course at Oxford. – Crypto king. – Yeah, yeah, so I locked that up, and really starting to think about what the business use
cases are for blockchain. And I’m still very excited
about those opportunities. – Mm-hmm. – But now because the
market has been bearish for quite some time, I think it’s a good
opportunity for a lot of folks to take a step back and
take a sober view to it. – Sure. – Because everybody
who’s very excited about oh, Bitcoin, Bitcoin. It’s always going to go up. – December was wild. – Yeah, it was a great time, right? If you did it right, you could’ve made a nice piece of change. But when that scale tipped,
it shook a lot of people out. – Sure. – And I think that was necessary
for us to hit the reset, and say alright, let’s take a step back, and really think about
what this technology is. And not solely approach
it from a speculative type of standpoint. But really make sure that
we’re building products, goods, services that are applicable. Because a lot of entrepreneurs saw it as a good fundraising
mechanism in saying that, and it’s a fantastic fundraising mechanism because it’s neither debt nor equity. So you’re just issuing a token and saying, I think this gonna be worth a dollar and you don’t give up
anything for your business or take on any risk. – I can’t talk to you about crypto because Facebook doesn’t
allow conversations about crypto currency. – Come on, Zuck. – You can’t promote it, I know. – Come on, Zuck. (laughing) – We had one of our member companies here. Charlie, you Charlie runs a
company called “Cool Melon”. They are a Canada space crypto currency. – Okay. – And they wouldn’t let us,
they like took it off Facebook a couple weeks ago. So, just wanted to throw that out there. Don’t talk about crypto on
your Facebook live streams. – Don’t do it. (laughing) – I don’t really know. Here’s my last, I mean
it’s my last question is what advice would you give to a current service man or service woman or professional athlete right now that’s maybe a year away from, or like contemplating
the end of their career, or a year away from transitioning out? What advice would you
give to a younger you? Again, I mean you did
it pretty well actually, but what advice would
you give looking back? – That’s a good question. I would say, really build relationships. And open yourself up to new opportunities. – That’s a great answer. – I think that being in the
service or being on a team, you can ultimately end up
around the same type of people. – Yeah. – And you’re not really
diversifying your experiences or your relationships. – Mm-hmm. – And I think that that is a, it could be a big miss
if you don’t do that. Because people want to hear your story. They want to understand
what sets you apart because they already respect
and appreciate what you do, and they want some sort of
connection point to you. And to understand and
just to hear your story. Like hey, what’s it like? Tell me what it’s like. – Yeah. – And through that, you’ll
start to learn and meet folks and see different ideas and businesses, but always be mindful that
you could spend 20 minutes talking about the Super Bowl, or 20 minutes talking
about your tour of duty, and walk away from that conversation and not extract anything. – Sure. – So always be mindful about okay, I’m talking to this person, but ultimately I’d like to
learn more about what they do. – Mm-hmm. – And that’s a skill that I
think is developed over time. – Yeah. – And but it’s critically important because folks would love
to just talk to me about what’s Jay Cutler like? Or what’s Antonio Brown like? And I could do that, sure. But there needs to be
some tip in the scale where we start to talk
about things that you do, so that I could learn more about you, which ultimately helps me be a better me. – Right. Cool, well I appreciate it. – Yeah, it’s all good. – Two weeks left in your Kickstarter. I’m hoping for the best. – Yup, SWZLE.com
– SWZLE.com – S-W-Z-L-E.com – Love it, Ryan thank you
so much for coming in. – No problem, thanks, Will. – Take care. Over and out, Kye.

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