Business

This is the story of how and why we’re building Rabil Events, Part 1

The following series of articles are the result of six months of thought and iteration in answering the question: “What does Rabil Events do?”.

Mick Davis (MD): In October of 2016, Paul and I formed a new company – Rabil Events – with a broad mission of taking a meaningful role in the youth lacrosse space. As the largest and fastest growing segment of the sport, it felt like a place where we could maximize our impact and affect change for young players and their families under a trusted brand.

Paul Rabil (PR): Yes. Also, it’s worth noting that before we started Rabil Events, Mick and I had a second degree of separation through a Rabil Ventures portfolio company, Turnstyle Cycle. Mick played football at Dartmouth College, and took an internship with my older brother, Mike (also a Big Green footballer). That role transitioned to full-time, and eventually Mick was operating in the fitness space – and doing one hell of a job. It was this operational expertise, matched with his private equity background, that made for an ideal business partner for me. But in youth lacrosse? It was Mick’s passion for mission that energized me.

MD: The shift to lacrosse was interesting to say the least – a little intimidating even. I grew up with limited exposure to the sport, so the unfamiliarity brought some hesitation. After a couple conversations with Paul, and a bit of diligence around his accomplishments on and off the field, it became clear that there was a larger vision at play. Considering his history as a leader and innovator in the sport, I sensed the possibility for real impact. I bought in.

PR: I think it’s now interesting to point to an early conversation when we were in a healthy brainstorm phase. I still possess that call’s agenda in my old notebook. We parsed the conversation into 3 buckets:

  1. What is our mission? Or, why do this? How can we positively promote change, grow the game, and create great experiences?
  2. What is our product and strategy?
  3. How do we structure our cap table? Can we manage to self-fund this? Do we raise money?

A lot to unpack here… I suppose we should keep this post to item number 1 – our mission. We’ll save the others for parts 2 and 3.

MD: Good call. We started off with a very broad mission. We knew we wanted to have a positive impact on the youth space – and that was about it.

Since that point, we’ve had countless conversations with talented operators and national governing bodies, picked up pain-points from coaches, players, and parents, evaluated our strengths & weaknesses, and considered how we’d like to spend our time. We’ve learned a lot by hosting two events via our first project – the 2017 Rabil Tour – and are doing our best not to make the same mistakes twice.

Though we weren’t actively “developing” a mission during our first six months of operating, our experiences during that time – both positive and negative – helped steer the ship when it came time to put pen to paper.

PR: Right. And when Mick says “put pen to paper,” he’s referencing a board meeting about a month ago when we decided – as a team – to spend time on honing and physically producing a mission statement. My brother Mike, who’s an advisor to Rabil Events, recognized that we were trying to do too much, and proposed the idea. It was a great call on his part.

Based on that feedback, we’ve taken a crack at whittling down our “what do we do” into a mission statement comprised of a single sentence. The “mission statement” idea is a bit stigmatized – especially in an era of overplayed corporate rhetoric. We tried to avoid the standard pitfalls of flowery language and idealized goals by focusing on our strengths, energy, and achievable outcomes.

MD: When it came time to produce a mission statement, Paul was the obvious candidate to take the lead. When you have a category-defining, thought-leader at your disposal, you don’t pick the private equity guy. He brought a ton of passion and value to the process.

PR: You’re a better writer than me, Mick.

MD: For us, the process of thinking through our mission statement was very useful for the following reasons (1) it helped us get on the same page (2) it showed us that our vision was convoluted – and that we were were trying to accomplish too many things (3) it forced us to hone in on the few things that we were really excited about. And finally – we’re pleased to have a shared internal compass to operate from – to help us guide decisions and steer the ship.

PR: During those first few conversations 6 months ago, we recognized we’d have to demonstrate patience as we learned more about our business, the industry, and ourselves. While we will continue to learn, we have synthesized our thoughts into a mission that we are proud to pursue.

“Creating great lacrosse experiences by the best players in the world”

MD: Although the statement doesn’t look like much on its own – and may even contain a grammatical error – there is a lot to be unpacked.

In our next article, we’ll attempt to bring the statement to life. We’ll share our Rabil Events mission statement notes – including which ‘players’ we’re joining forces with – and we’ll try to convince you why you should care 🙂

-Paul and Mick

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