From time to time, we’d like to take the time to feature young local businesspeople, all up-and-comers making moves in the Toledo market. This week’s article is the first in such a series, and it features JustPlay Sports Now, a subsidiary company of ESMA, LLC, and the brainchild of Ottawa Hills native Scott Axonovitz and business partner Jessica Jung.
I sat down with Scott and JustPlay’s National Market Manager, Dan Netter – also a product of Ottawa Hills – one afternoon in late March to discuss their budding enterprise. What readers will find here is an overview of JustPlay, plans for the future, and [most importantly] a discussion of just how these young entrepreneurs found themselves at the head of a successful business, with boundless opportunities for expansion, and a bulging bottom line.
First and foremost: the preliminaries. JustPlay Sports Now was founded under a year ago, in the fall of 2009. It is, essentially, a 21-and-over intramural sports organization that focuses on social networking. Despite its focus on sports, JustPlay’s leagues are not overly competitive, but they do provide a chance for young local professionals a place to meet in a less formal setting.
Modeled after a similar firm established by a childhood friend of co-founder Jessica Jung, which is immensely popular in Europe and sponsored by Guinness, JustPlay set up shop in Toledo, not necessarily because it is a favorable market (which it isn’t), but because the area holds a special place in the hearts of its management, and they want to help the local economy in any way possible.
Not to be outdone from a sponsorship standpoint, JustPlay enlisted the support of Treu House of Munch, a distributor for Anheuser-Busch (now Inbev), which helps secure drink specials for members of the group, among other benefits.
From the start, JustPlay has been focused on helping Toledo. They have used Toledo-area lawyers, CPAs, and facilities for those events taking place in Northwest Ohio. JustPlay has also launched leagues in Columbus, Phoenix, and Orlando, yet they continue to focus on supporting Toledo.
After all, it was Toledo that gave these young professional the background they needed to succeed in business; they have a sentimental attachment to this area, and want to see it turn around (and hopefully play a part in the improvement).
Both Netter and Axonovitz credit their upbringing in Ottawa Hills, with both family and friends who owned their own businesses, with helping to mold their entrepreneurial minds, and instilling them with the skills that have gotten them this far.
Speaking with me in my office, Axonovitz clearly recalled a concept that was taught to him from a very early age by his father: “You can either be the one who’s told the rules and gets paid by people, or you can be the one who makes the rules and pays people.”
Neither, even in their mid-20s, is any stranger to risk-taking. Netter, who’s father has been involved in his fair share of ventures, told his son to “Take the risk when you’re young, and take a few of them.” While often used as an excuse by young people for too much partying, seldom is it used as motivation to start a business.
As frequently happens, during our conversation the issue of age came up. Both admitted that being a decision-maker at 24 (Axonovitz) or 25 (Netter), and knowing that those decisions have consequences and effect other people, can be a daunting task; but they wouldn’t have it any other way.
While both Dan and Scott admit they had very fortunate upbringings, they both rightly credit their success to their own hard work in applying the lessons they learned growing up. Among those are to “do something you love” and “never stop moving and doing.”
Asked what has been the key to their success, outside of their upbringing, both men, now executives over a national corporation, responded concisely. “Know more than anyone else,” answer Netter, to which Axonovitz quickly added “and work harder.”
Readers are encouraged to visit the website for JustPlay Sports Now at justplaysportsnow.net to check out upcoming leagues and events. JustPlay will be kicking off its Toledo spring leagues with a sand volleyball league on April 25th at 3:00 pm at Gold Medal Indoor Sports in Rossford.
Anyone interested in registering for the sand volleyball league, which has games running every Sunday from April into June, can do so online either as a team (the league is 6 on 6) or as an individual.
Also, since spring can be a particularly busy time, JustPlay offers two additional seasons for sand volleyball; one running from mid-June to August, and the last running from August into September. The individual rate for each season is only $40, and is all-inclusive (except for drinks after the game!). Come on out for digs and drinks!
This blog is written weekly by Dock David Treece, a registered investment advisor with Treece Investment Advisory Corp. It is meant to share insight of investment professionals, including Dock David and his father, Dock, and brother, Ben, with the public at large. The hope is that the knowledge shared will help individuals to better navigate the investment world.