July 10, 2015 by Charlie Eisenhood in News with 11 comments
NexGen founder Kevin Minderhout and E.R.I.C. co-founder Jim Gerencser are joining forces to start a new mobile media startup centered around livestreaming ultimate events and athlete promotion.
“This is going to be NexGen on steroids,” said Gerencser.
The new for-profit venture will invest heavily in a mobile experience, with a tentative plan to launch a mobile app in November. The livestreaming content will be free, with no paywalls.
“NGN was just about filming ultimate, and that was really it,” said Minderhout. “We’re thinking much bigger. We’re thinking about how to redefine content delivery dedicated to the mobile space.”
Details at the moment are hazy, as the new company is still in its formative stages. Gerencser and an outside partner, Marc Stuart, are bankrolling the company beginning with a significant six-figure investment in brand new broadcasting equipment. After Minderhout shuttered NexGen, he sold all of the company’s equipment. He says they’ll be upgrading the entire system.
The company plans to have a heavy focus initially on the promotion of E.R.I.C., a charity focused on the early recognition of cancer symptoms. E.R.I.C. has already done some promotion with Team ERIC, an all-star team (mostly focused on Bay Area players) that competes at tournaments around the world.
That will continue, now with broadcasting of the team at those events. Minderhout said that during the North American offseason, Team ERIC will hit the international circuit at various tournaments, particularly beach ones.
Aside from that, the company will also be hiring full-time ultimate players to showcase as athletes. “We’re going to start developing the athlete as a profession and as a personality that has a following,” said Minderhout.
He added that more traditional broadcasting of events — like Worlds 2016, which is a target — is still on their mind. But they hope to prepare for the future with a mobile experience.
“It seems like everybody is sitting there hoping for a big TV deal by doing things the same way the big three [sports] are doing them,” said Minderhout. “And we don’t necessarily believe that’s going to happen. We think that’s sort of an old idea.”
It’s an ambitious plan. NexGen struggled to find a stable financial footing and eventually folded. But this is bigger, say the founders. “We’re going to be adding some support and money to [what Minderhout does] and seeing what he can do with that,” said Gerencser.
For now, there is no focus on finding a revenue stream. They will look to build a user base via the mobile app and go from there. “It’s going to require getting 20,000 members on our app in the first year,” said Minderhout.
Gerencser emphasized that he wants to use this project to help spread the message about E.R.I.C. Gerencser also owns the Dallas AUDL franchise set to begin operations in 2016, and is closely tied to the AUDL with E.R.I.C. as well, as it is the league’s official charity.
From the athlete development side, there will be a focus on growing players’ brands at both the club and pro level. It’s unclear what that might mean for potential future partnerships with the AUDL, MLU, USA Ultimate, or World Flying Disc Federation.
Minderhout, a recently elected USAU board member, has already started conversations with the governing body about what his involvement in this new company might mean for his seat on the board. No decisions have been made yet.
More announcements about the venture are expected early next week. For now, the focus is preparing for the mobile future and the app’s launch in November.
“This is the future of content,” said Minderhout. “[Kids] are not going to say it in that way, but they’re going to know it. They’re going to be like, ‘Forget that TV show; check out this app.”