Today, I spoke to Nick Palazzo, who is the co-founder of STACK, a multimedia sports brand that educates, inspires and entertains athletes. STACK recently launched a new social networking site for high-school athletes, the Gatorade Performance Center. In this interview, Nick talks about his new social network, brand partnerships, and more.
Why a social networking site for high-school athletes?
We are building more than a social network of high schools athletes. It is a social training platform that includes many of the basic social network features such as creating a profile, communicating with friends and sharing your progress. The real innovative elements of the site involve how it integrates with Facebook. For example, when a high school athlete sets a goal such as lifting 200 lbs. in the bench press, as soon as that goal is achieved there is automatically a message sent to their friends on the site, but also on Facebook. This is the next generation of social media leveraging the large existing platforms like Facebook, while bringing custom tools and functionality for a vertical audience such as high school athletes.
What does a brand like Gatorade do to help boost your brand and how do they align with your product?
Gatorade is the clear leader and dominate player in the sports nutrition category, so their commitment and deep partnership brings tremendous credibility to STACK. Further, the fact that they are laser focused on performance athletes and one of the most trusted and establish brands in the entire sports category, opens the opportunity for great partnership opportunities between non-competitive brands in the sports space. In terms or aligning with our product, Gatorade desires to be a catalyst for athletic achievement. There is no other media brand or platform that aligns with this mission more than STACK, so it is a natural partnership.
The truly unique part of the partnership is that not only have we partnered on traditional media and advertising, we have created an entirely new platform for our respective target audience of performance athletes. This is much more than a media and advertising partnership it is a strategic alliance of two of the top players in the space that have committed to reaching and engaging this audience in ways that have never been done before.
It starts with a meeting of the minds in terms of looking at a relationship differently than its current form. From 2005-2008, we were a media vendor to Gatorade. In 2009 and beyond, we are a strategic partner. Strategic partnerships take a long time with large corporate partners, but are based on solid results, common target audiences and mission fit. But, at the end of the day, it is all about bringing not only ideas but execution ability.
Do you think there is a disconnect between college athletes and their coaches?
How will this new technology bridge that? This current platform is primarily focused on high school athletes and empowering them to achieve their performance goals. In terms of a disconnect between college athletes and coaches, I think the issue is greater in the professional sports. Many professional athletes are not open to being coached and do not have great worth ethics. We focus our content efforts on those athletes that embody the brand principles of STACK. They work hard and are at the top of the professional ranks.
How did you decide you wanted to get into the performance/training industry?
I was a former high school and college athlete. As a college football player at Harvard, I got exposure to top training and performance methods that I thought could be applied to the masses. I was always looking for ways to improve my performance and could not find any credible sources of information when I was in high school and in my early years at college. STACK exists to bridge that gap and provide athletes with the best performance training information, while also connecting marketers to this very influential and powerful market of athletes.
Nick Palazzo is the co-founder of STACK, a multimedia sports brand that educates, inspires and entertains athletes. Through its formal partnerships with more than 7,000 high schools, STACK connects with millions of high school athletes each month. The STACK franchise includes STACK.com, STACK Magazine, MySTACK, STACK TV, and STACK Events. STACK was conceived by Palazzo and Chad Zimmerman, both former high school and college athletes, to fill the resource void for safe and effective high school-specific training information. Palazzo graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Harvard University.