My retirement actually came kind of abruptly. I had back surgery in 2015 and started to think about what life was like beyond the game of football. I was going into my eighth season and I had plans to play at least ten. The paradigm shifted rather quickly. I started to think, ‘Well, I don't want to run into people anymore, what do I do next?’ Unfortunately, the genesis of me thinking about retirement came due to an injury.
Ryan Mundy is an 8-year NFL vet who played for the Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants and Chicago Bears. After transitioning from football, Ryan started his own investment company and recently launched his newest venture, SWZLE.
My retirement was extended a little bit because of my back surgery in 2015. I was on injured reserve, so I had a lot of free time on my hands. I didn't officially retire until the summer of 2016.
During post season 2015, I did an internship at Avison Young and thought I was interested in a career in real estate. I found out real estate wasn't for me. I was also enrolled in an MBA program at the University of Miami, so my hands were already full with activities off of the field. Beyond that, I was still talking to a lot of folks, exploring and building my network and trying to understand what life was like beyond the game of football.
“ ...trying to understand what life was like beyond the game of football. ”
By trying new stuff and talking to people. I ended up hearing and seeing some of the headlines around athletes becoming investors in tech companies and I thought that was interesting.
I started to shoot cold emails, LinkedIn messages, Twitter messages, etc. to different venture capitalists I had looked up and asked for 30 minutes of their time to speak and learn about what they do. The more I learned, the more intrigued I became. One thing led to the next and I started my own investment company.
“ The more I learned, the more intrigued I became. ”
I was building off the momentum of me talking to people, learning, exploring, going to different conferences, sitting with different entrepreneurs and really just getting a strong feel for the ecosystem.
Ultimately, I made the decision I wanted to be in this industry. I was faced with the decision, ‘do I want to go get a job or do I want to continue down this path and be an entrepreneur investor?’ I ultimately decided to be an entrepreneur investor because I had confidence in myself. I was fortunate enough to have resources to do it so I did, and it's been a great journey ever since. I've been running Techlete for about 18 months now and I’m really excited about the future prospects.
“ I ultimately decided to be an entrepreneur investor because I had confidence in myself. ”
Pretty much everything non-physical. The requirements it takes to be a professional athlete, I was able to translate and repurpose them to a business context. If you think about the grit, determination, focus, leadership, discipline – all these characteristics allowed me to have a sustainable career as a professional athlete. Now, I had to pick up and repurpose those into a business context.
“ If you think about the grit, determination, focus, leadership, discipline – all these characteristics allowed me to have a sustainable career... ”
It took me some time to really distill it down because, on the surface, most people would say, ‘Well you played football, what skills do you have or how can you translate that to a business context?’ Everybody is looking at it from a physical perspective of blocking, tackling, scoring touchdowns, etc.
Once you start to distill it down to those intrinsic and internal values, that's where the edge is. It's not a little edge, it's a big edge. It’s the championship mentality of understanding what it takes for success. It's very powerful if you're able to repurpose it into whatever you want to do next.
“ It’s the championship mentality of understanding what it takes for success. ”
I met my business partner about a year ago and we were kicking around ideas of different businesses to start. SWZLE was something he had mentioned back in 2017, but we didn't act on it at the time. We kept seeing the headlines of more and more folks moving away from plastic straw usage. We knew there was something there initially and ultimately decided to pull the trigger and go for it.
“ We knew there was something there initially and ultimately decided to pull the trigger and go for it. ”
SWZLE at its core is a L3C, which is a low-profit liability company focused on social entrepreneurship. We're able to provide a sustainable solution for individuals to reduce their plastic consumption.
Our Kickstarter is a consumer straw pack where you will receive two straws, a brush and a eco-friendly case that looks good and fits in your bag perfectly. It's been going very well. We also have several different sales channels beyond just direct to consumer, like retail. Beyond that, we can take the case away and sell metal straws directly to restaurants, hospitality groups, etc.
I just have two focuses right now, sports tech and SWZLE. My investment company was already up and running prior to SWZLE. At my investment company, I focus on sports-related opportunities, health and leisure and also digital media. The sports-related opportunities can be tech and non-tech related. Within tech, I know a ton about blockchain, cryptocurrency, tokenization, etc. It's been a fun ride. Also, being on the advisement board for One Team Collective has definitely been an outstanding experience and mutually beneficial relationship.
Starting my own company the first time and actually the second time, too. I was very contrary in the fact I did not want to go on TV and talk about football. I did not want to be a football coach. I wanted to explore and build this new foundation of Ryan Mundy 2.0.
I think sometimes folks view football players as only offering the world values regarding football. I was very adamant about not going down that path, not to say if a guy did go down that path it’s the wrong move, it just wasn't for me at the time. I'm very proud of what I've been able to accomplish over these last 18 months, really blazing a trail and hopefully inspiring other guys to think about life beyond football.
“ ...hopefully inspiring other guys to think about about life beyond football? ”
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