In a time where there is constant chatter about the lack of coverage of women’s sports, Marcus Crenshaw put his money where his mouth is by investing his time and resources into women’s basketball.
A former professional basketball player himself, Marcus first created Hoops Cred, the first marketing agency specifically for WNBA players, but he didn’t stop there. In 2016, he birthed She Hoops Network via Instagram by utilizing visuals from all over the internet to bring exposure to thousands of talents female hoopers across all ages and skill levels. To date, She Hoops has amassed over 145,000 followers and has become the primary outlet for women’s basketball highlights. After amassing such success with the She Hoops brand, the forward thinking young mogul is taking She Hoops to the next level with the recent sale of the brand to successful media startup Overtime. Backed by top venture capitalist firms such as Andreessen Horowitz, as well as NBA superstar Kevin Durant and former NBA Commissioner David Stern, Overtime is a network catered to the next generation of sports fans, and She Hoops already has the attention of their target audience.
Our editor had chance to have an exclusive chat with Marcus about his sale of She Hoops and why Overtime was the perfect fit. He also shared his experiences in entrepreneurship, his legacy, and defines the culture of women’s basketball in his own words:
BTW: Before we go into detail about the sale of She Hoops Network, let’s start from the beginning. Why did you start She Hoops?
MC: I started She Hoops Network because women’s basketball needed more exposure. A lot of my friends play women’s basketball and at the time I was doing marketing for several WNBA players. So I said this would be a great time to invest and create a diverse platform for middle school, high school, street ballers, overseas, and WNBA players.
BTW: Instead of expanding She Hoops to other platforms, you kept it strictly on Instagram. What was your reasoning behind this decision? Did you consider branching out into other mediums?
MC: I didn’t want to spread myself too thin. Putting all of our energy into one platform allowed us to triple down and move fast. The first goal was to create a following and to create brand awareness. So putting all the energy into Instagram allowed us to reach the kids, the players, and the fans very quickly. I mean, we grew to 100,000 followers in less than a year. Eventually we did plan to expand to other platforms, but we wanted to build a solid foundation first.
BTW: What did you do to build your following and to get She Hoops to a point where it was valuable enough to shop around?
MC: We just put out content at scale. We were posting 2-4 videos and about 6-7 Instagram stories per day. Our goal was to provide as much value to the audience as possible. I wasn’t shopping around, but I knew it would be valuable enough to sell one day if we wanted to, because we were the biggest in our niche.
BTW: Let’s get into the details of the sale! What does your deal with Overtime entail?
MC: I can’t disclose any of the details, but for me it wasn’t about the money, it was about finding the right company to take it to the next level.
BTW: Were there other interested buyers? Why did you feel Overtime was the right company to take over the reins of She Hoops?
MC: I was approached by at least 5 companies, but I felt Overtime was a company that I believed most in. I felt they are the most authentic and relevant sports brand today, and they were the most suitable home for She Hoops. At the end of the day, the goal was to grow the game. We made the brand known in our market, but Overtime has the resources and staff to take She Hoops to the next level. They have top venture-capital investors and the likes of Kevin Durant and former NBA Commission David Stern behind them, so to me this was a no brainer. The women’s game gets more resources to grow off of what we started and it made financial sense for us as well – a win-win in my books.
BTW: What are some key tips and tricks you would share with people who are trying to build a successful brand, particular in women’s sports, using social media?
MC: I would say go all in. Post as much content as possible. Make sure your brand has a unique quality. She Hoops Network was all about flash, being lit, and highlights. So whatever lane you decide to take make sure you stay consistent.
BTW: On your personal IG account, @CoolestCEO, you talk a lot about entrepreneurship and financial freedom in some interesting and creative ways. What has been the response from your followers and others once they discover your content?
MC: The feedback has been nothing but great. Reason being, it’s refreshing to see someone speak about financial freedom and being an entrepreneur that they can relate to. Them seeing a guy transition from being a professional overseas basketball player to becoming an entrepreneur and having the skills and drive to build businesses and talk about it openly has been very entertaining for my audience. A lot of people tell me that my advice is very inspirational so now I’m going to triple down on it and build my personal brand to show others that building your own thing with the internet is very possible. Being a guy that taught himself business that was raised in the inner city of Detroit lets people know that you don’t have to be an alien to be your own boss.
BTW: One thing I admire about you is that you’re personable, and I’ve witnessed the journey you embarked on with getting She Hoops together. What are some obstacles you’ve had to face overall as an entrepreneur, and what are some lessons learned?
MC: Some obstacles that I’ve had to overcome as an entrepreneur are just figuring out the financial side of things because being a professional athlete is completely different from being an entrepreneur. You have to learn supply and demand. How to buy and sell something without spending too much of your own money. I have had to bounce back after having monetary losses, it’s just a lot because if you own the company it’s all on you. You have to take full responsibility. Being the first and last line of defense for your business will always come with a lot of pressure. Another obstacle I have dealt with are my doubters and people who didn’t believe in my vision. This has come in the form of friends, family, and business partners. Honestly, I no longer look at that as an obstacle, but instead as motivation. Finally, I had to learn how to balance my work life with my personal life. I used to work fifteen or sixteen hours a day to get my business going but now I have cut back the hours and started working more efficiently. This has given me more free time to focus on my health and wellness, which has lead to more business.
BTW: One phrase that many of us millennials use today is “Do it for the culture?” In your opinion, what is the culture of women’s basketball? Why did you choose women’s basketball over other sports?
MC: When I think of the women’s basketball culture, I automatically think of the word ‘love’ because I can literally say all the hoopers I’ve seen really love to play the game. They go out there and play their hearts out and they’re not getting paid tens of millions of dollars to do it. The younger hoopers aren’t even thinking about money, but about being the best and making it to the highest level possible. They go out and compete just as hard as any athlete from any other sport without as much monetary gain as those other sports, which takes special heart and passion to do. All of them do it with love and I look forward to seeing the culture continue to expand. As for me, I chose women’s basketball because I took a personal liking to it. I think the players got game and I love watching basketball, regardless if it’s men or woman. Good basketball is good basketball, and I don’t really separate the two. I just love hoopers who can pass, shoot, dribble, rebound and play defense. I’m a big fan of the game because a lot of players do that at a high level.
BTW: Although you’re young, how would you define your legacy thus far?
MC: I think my legacy is currently growing as we speak. My legacy is someone who is not scared to invest in what he believes in. A lot of people turn their back on women’s basketball. Meanwhile, I’ve invested in it. I didn’t only build She Hoops Network. I built Hoop Cred, which was the first marketing company for WNBA players. I currently have a sports agency called VNG Hoops and we represent some of the top WNBA and European women’s professional basketball players on the market. As I mentioned earlier, I’m now working on my personal brand, to show people who came from environments like mine that building your own businesses is possible. In the end, I want that to be my ultimate legacy as I push forward with my content.