Varsity Brands founder and Chairman, Jeff Webb joins Moe Abdou to discuss how the simple idea of cheer camps in 1974 turned into a billion dollar empire.
Beyond Cheerleading: Building the Varsity Brand
You can’t build what you can’t imagine; and back in 1974, when Jeff Webb envisioned a world where cheerleading and school spirit would bring together schools and communities, he didn’t just see pompoms and mascots. To him, it was an opportunity to build and inspire leaders. Webb launched The Varsity Spirit brand in 1974 with an $85,000 loan from family and friends, and little did he know that by 2016, he would be leading a business unicorn that represents the #1 cheer brand in the world.
Along the way, he had his share of trials and triumph, still he never veered from his vision. From launching the first of its kind cheerleading competition in Seaworld Orlando in 1980, to acquiring the complementary brands, BSN Sports and Herff Jones, Webb’s commitment to ingenuity remains the hallmark of his leadership philosophy. In 2014, the private equity firm, Charlesbank acquired Varsity Brands for approximately $1.5 billion, yet despite the vastness of his empire, Webb still wears the title as head cheerleader. I loved the opportunity to chat with Jeff, and you’re about to discover why his thesis about cheer and leadership is pin point accurate.
Here’s what we discuss:
- The evolution of a dream
- How a tiny company captures the attention of a giant
- The balance between vision and opportunity
- The most difficult leadership challenge
- The mindset shift of transitioning from a $100MM company to a billion dollar one
- Navigating successful partnerships internationally
- Cheerleading as a sport – olympic sport?