Interview with Keirsten Sires, Co-Founder and CEO of LockerRoomTalk.com
By: Shelby Vaccaro
Have you ever wanted to know what your professor was like before committing to a class and check out Rate My Professor? Wouldn’t it be helpful to know how your college coach will be before stepping on the field. What if I told you that there was a way that you could know before signing on the dotted line. Well there is, and the solution is The Locker Room Talk. Through this website you are not only able to see what others say about a specific coach but how that coach rates among other coaches.
After graduating from University of Skidmore, former two sport (Tennis and Soccer), collegiate-athlete, Keirsten Sires co-founded LockerRoomTalk.com with classmate Nick Petrella. Now venture backed with 3000 plus users, their mission is to help guide and educate high school athletes through the college admission and sports team selection process. College athletes should have a voice and now, through Locker Room Talk they do. Here on The Athlete Book we sat down with the Keirsten to learn more about her path through entrepreneurship.
What had originally drawn you towards the entrepreneur life?
My parents. They are both extremely entrepreneurial and they have always pushed me to do what I was passionate about. My mom ran her own fitness center and my dad has started many companies, one which he started 20+ years ago that is still running – American Elite Molding. I grew up watching the two of them work passionately in their different fields and it was something that I always had a tremendous amount of respect for.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
My partner, Nick Petrella, came up with the idea for an entrepreneurship class at Skidmore in the fall of 2013. Our goal of the semester was to build out Locker Room Talk and present it to venture capitalists at the end of the semester for our final grade. It was an extremely rewarding experience that I immediately fell in love with. After graduation I called Nick and asked if he wanted to make Locker Room Talk come to life; we launched in November 2015 and here we are now!
Did your personal relationship with your coaches or experience selecting a school play influence in your decision to start LRT?
Absolutely. I think every college athlete goes through a similar process of recruiting, but everyone has a unique story behind it. There is a common theme that the recruiting process can be difficult, and there is a huge lack of information out there. That being said, my recruiting process was filled with a huge learning curve. Unfortunately, this process only happens once in your life. I think taking from my personal experiences is a huge reason why I feel so passionately about Locker Room Talk and our mission to help high school athletes through the recruiting process, as well as provide college athletes with an outlet to voice their opinions.
As you know TheAthleteBook.com connects college athletes to internships and jobs. As such, LinkedIn has been an important tool for us. Does LRT have a LinkedIn page or strategy?
Yes! We have a LinkedIn page, as well as a profile on TheAthleteBook.com. LinkedIn has been an amazing outlet for us to spread the word, hire employees & interns as well as let people know what our mission is in a professional manner. There are so many issues with the recruiting process that are being faced and LinkedIn has been a great way to connect with all of those current and former athletes as well as their families out there to let them know how to tackle situations.
Has LRT received any memorable responses, feedback or input about LRT?
Yes we have here is some of the feedback that I have been receiving:
“The more streamlined the process, the better. The recruiting process is not easy and the information is vast.” -Bob Hartness, highly regarded high school softball coach.
“I would have definitely used a website like Locker Room Talk. It would have been extremely helpful in my decision on what school I would’ve gone to.” -Beck Bond, NC State Men’s Tennis
“LRT is a good resource for kids looking into colleges. If I were a high school recruit I would look at LRT to see what the program and coaches were like.” -Jami Kranich, Villanova Women’s Soccer, current member of the Boston Breakers
“I think Locker Room Talk provides an incredible opportunity for athletes to rate their coaches and provide necessary feedback, both for the coach and for recruits. Going to a great school, and playing for a great team is important, but if you are playing for a bad coach the whole experience can be ruined. This will allow the best players to find the best coaches and create an even better product in collegiate sports.” –Jamie Murray, Babson Hockey, current member of the San Jose Sharks
Anyone following LRT on Instagram knows that you guys deliver the goods. Great video clips and fun pictures. What are your “rule of thumbs” on what makes a good posting?
For Locker Room Talk, relating our posts to high school and college athletes is a huge rule of thumb for us. If we post a cool picture of one of our interns doing an activity wearing our swag, we make sure the caption is very relatable to an athlete. This isn’t too difficult, considering everyone who is working at Locker Room Talk is a current or former collegiate athlete.
What important lessons or challenges have you faced developing a YouTube Channel and producing video content?
Our biggest challenge with YouTube is getting a lot of subscribers. We have a channel right now that allows us to keep all of our videos in one space, but most of our traction on those videos comes from social media. I think the most important thing is to have a plan behind every form of social media you use, YouTube included. Even if something doesn’t stick right away, staying true to your plan and giving it a solid amount of time to flourish is important. If it doesn’t work after a year, maybe check back and reconsider what strategy you are using. I find that getting feedback from your users, friends and even people who have never heard of your site before is a great way to see things from another perspective.
Successful startup’s go from one person show to a small team. Tell us about your team dynamic at LRT? What are the various roles that people play in the company and have you faced early growth challenges?
Our company dynamic is very strong. I believe that because we are all former collegiate athletes, we take the aspect of being on a team and embrace it. Everyone apart of the team is very passionate about LRT and determined to make it successful!
You often speak to high school athletes, what’s your core message when delivering a public message?
Our core message to high school athletes: the recruiting process is a once in a life time opportunity that is extremely tricky, but if you stay informed and keep an open mind, a lot of doors will be open for you. Locker Room Talk provides seminars and workshops across the country to high school athletes, parents, coaches and guidance counselors in order to help them better understand the recruiting process and hone our core message.
Talking directly to our college athletes on TheAthleteBook.com. What personal advice can you offer to any college athlete looking to start their own business and become an entrepreneur?
The best thing I did throughout my college career was to build relationships with Skidmore alumni. Every time an alumni spoke at an event or in a class I made sure to get their card after and follow up with them about their talk. Also, making sure to stay in touch with teammates and use your teams network is another community that is always there to be supportive. I was able to open so many doors, meet a lot of amazing people as well as gain friends through the whole networking process. Some of my most trusted advisors and mentors are Skidmore alumni and teammates. My biggest piece of advice would be to utilize your time at school and use your college network and team to open up doors