Helping NFL athletes navigate their financial life
The Brewer Group CEO Jack Brewer, former NFL running back Clinton Portis and former NFL wide receiver Ron Johnson on efforts to help teach NFL athletes the personal finance skills they need for their career in football and after retirement.
New England Patriots legend Ty Law knew he wanted to be a business owner years before his Hall of Fame career came to an end.
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Law, who will be formally inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, Aug. 3, earned nearly $60 million while serving as a key member of a Patriots team that won three Super Bowls during the early 2000s. But the uncertainty of life in the NFL, where contracts are rarely guaranteed and players are subject to the constant risk of injury or release, pushed Law to pursue financial security on his own terms.
Three years after retiring from the NFL, Law co-founded Launch, a trampoline park and entertainment center business. Founded in 2012 as one store operated by Law and his business partner, Rob Arnold, Launch has expanded to 30 stores across 13 states, with five to six more locations set to open by the end of 2019 and more than $50 million in revenue.
“I wanted to not just invest — I wanted to own,” Law told FOX Business. “That’s the key to prosperity and controlling your own destiny. I can’t get cut from Launch. I don’t have to worry about a pink slip or somebody saying ‘bring your playbook to the GM.’”
While a successful NFL career requires dedicated training and absolute focus in season, Law often attended entrepreneurial business programs sponsored by the NFL Players Association during his offseason. After his release by the Patriots in 2005 and short stints with the New York Jets, Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos, Law retired from the league and started looking for a business venture.
Photo courtesy of Launch Trampoline Park
The idea for Launch emerged in 2012, when Law read about Arnold's construction company in a flier and hired him to construct an elaborate deck at his Rhode Island home. The two quickly became friends, and at one point in the construction process, Arnold came back from a family vacation and told Law about a trampoline park they had visited on a rainy day.
Law decided to do some research on the concept. He drove his three children to a nearby trampoline park. The kids had fun, but Law remembers an unpleasant experience.
“I couldn’t find it, it was in the middle of nowhere. It smelled like feet. I was like man, this is terrible,” Law said. “As I was leaving, I couldn’t wait to go. They didn’t have anything to do for the parents, it was basically just a snack bar and the water fountains. But as I was leaving, there was just busloads of kids coming. I just start counting [money] in my head. I was like, there might be something to this.”
Intrigued, the five-time Pro Bowl selection traveled to other trampoline parks around the country to get a sense of the business. When an early attempt to buy a franchise in an existing chain fell through over a financial disagreement with ownership, Law and Parker decided to start the business that became Bounce.
To get a better feel for the business, Law spent time on the ground at Launch locations in the company's early days, then shifted to a supervisory role as the chain expanded. Aside from its growth in recent years, Launch recently began manufacturing much of the equipment used in its store locations. Law said the company took the step to cut down on manufacturing costs and ensure that its stores could get necessary gear on a faster timeline than they would from a traditional supplier.
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While store franchising is a popular investment vehicle for pro athletes, Law warns that ownership isn’t for everyone. Players should enter any business project with the knowledge that progress will be slow, and financial returns may not roll in as quickly as they did at the peak of their careers. Writing a check isn't enough — entreprenuers need to learn every aspect of how their business operates.
“Play as much and as long as you can and maximize your earnings there, because in business, it’s going to be a slower crawl. … Understand your business. Work in your business for a minute. See what it is. Get people around you that have the same vision," Law said.
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