Creating A Platform For College Sports Fans To Support Their Favorite Players, A Founder’s Story with Ryan Thayer
I’m Ryan Thayer, a recent University of Illinois Gies School of Business graduate who’s always loved everything about college sports… watching on TV, attending games, tracking scores and stats. I work for a Chicago investment bank and am a tech geek at heart. I have always dreamed of starting a company and have had the pleasure of building one with my dad.
Tell us about your childhood and where you grew up
I grew up in Hinsdale, IL as the middle child in a family of 5. My dad is an attorney and my mom is an Executive Director at a not-for-profit. Education, sports, and having specific life goals were always prioritized in our house.
How did you get started as an entrepreneur?
My dad, an attorney, had just inked a NIL (Name, Image, Likeness) deal for a client. At the kitchen table one night, we were discussing this new opportunity for college athletes to receive compensation. We merged this with the popularity of NFTs (non-fungible tokens) and created NextName which sells NFTs of college athletes. We hired a developer, graphic designer, and marketing support, and the company has grown from there.
What is one business lesson you would tell a startup founder?
Don’t lose motivation or patience when someone (employee or customer) doesn’t understand your idea. Others may not understand the idea and try to change it in some way, but it is important to stay the course and execute what you initially set out to do. That doesn’t mean don’t listen to others, as advice should always be appreciated, but you should always try to stay on a path and meet concrete objectives.