Entrepreneurship
Dennis Crowley

How do you go from being a tech innovator to launching a professional sports club? Entrepreneur and founder of FourSquare, Dennis Crowley, is about to find out

By Tom Walker | Published in Sports Management 21 Mar 2016 issue 116


Serial internet entrepreneur Dennis Crowley is working on his next venture. This time, however, the New York-based founder of Foursquare and Swarm won’t be at his workspace, masterminding an app or a new piece of tech. Rather, he’ll most likely be either standing next to a soccer pitch, assessing young talent, or pitching for a sponsorship deal.

Crowley’s latest project is Stockade Football Club, a men’s semi-professional team based in Kingston, New York, US. The club will begin its first season this May, playing in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), the fourth level of the US soccer pyramid.

“We’re starting from scratch,” says Crowley, who spent two years at Google after the tech giant acquired Dodgeball, another social media platform he created. “We’re building a brand and creating an identity – and of course getting a coach and recruiting players. The plan is to do it in a way which allows us to develop a story around it.”

GEOGRAPHY
Crowley says the motivation for launching a club stems from two sources – his love of soccer and the location of his new home. “I currently split my time between New York City and our new house in the Hudson Valley,” he says. “During the process of moving and making Kingston a permanent home, my wife and I simply fell in love with the area.

“I realised that there’s a huge amount of interest and enthusiasm towards soccer in Hudson Valley – but no team for people to support. Lots of people play the sport and many drive down to to see Major League Soccer (MLS) games in New York City, so there’s definitely a market for what we’re trying to achieve.”

What Crowley wants to achieve is to create enough excitement to fill the 1,500-capacity Dietz Stadium in Kingston – a venue which opened back in 1949 and until now has acted mainly as the home for Kingston High School’s Tigers football team. “We’re not talking about creating an MLS franchise here – we’re building a division four soccer team,” he explains in the somewhat modest setting.

BACKGROUND
When asked how he plans to transfer his considerable skills in creating social networks and utilise them in setting up a venue-based sports venture, Crowley says the synergies between the two are stronger than they might at first seem. “My background is in building tech companies which are supported by user communities,” he explains. “Working on Stockade FC feels very similar to that.

“You start with an idea which is a little bit crazy, but the more people you tell about it, the less crazy it becomes. You then get people to buy into it – to love the brand and the product – and before you know it, they’ve become supporters of it.”

To help local people fall in love with the Stockade brand, Crowley has made sure the club’s “story” is infused with the area’s rich heritage. “Kingston is steeped in American history and the town dates back to the original Dutch settlers of the mid-1600s,” Crowley says. “Kingston was also the first capital of New York state.”

The club’s name and logo reference a historic wooden stockade fence – 16ft tall, made out of logs – which protected the mid-17th century Dutch settlement, known as Wiltwyck. That history is still alive in Kingston, located 91 miles north of New York City .

“To this day there’s an area called the Stockade District – and the Dietz Stadium where we play is only a five-minute walk from it,” he says.

TAKING ON THE BIG BOYS
While the club might be the only team in its geographical market, the global nature of soccer and the world’s leading clubs means Stockade FC will have some powerful rivals. Manchester United, Liverpool FC, Real Madrid and Barcelona all have huge followings in the area. In New York City, for example, there are sports bars which declare themselves “United-friendly”, due to being located close to venues decked out in Liverpool flags.

Crowley relishes the challenge and is even planning on taking the “super clubs” on at their own game – by securing support outside the team’s immediate market.

“I know that people in the Hudson Valley will be very excited about us,” he says. “But the question is, can we get people outside Hudson Valley excited too – people in New York City, people outside New York state, outside the US, even? Whether there’s an opportunity for that is one of the things we’re really interested in exploring.”

The efforts are already in full swing. Stockade FC’s first ever game might still be 10 weeks away, but an online shop offering international shipping for a range of branded merchandise has already opened. No surprise, perhaps, given Crowley’s skillets.

If the experiment does work and Stockade FC manages to secure a space in soccer fans’ consciousnesses, Crowley is keen to help others faced with the same task.

“If we get Stockade to the point where we think we’ve made something great – something that people love – we can then start turning our attention to how we might be able to help other clubs get off the ground,” he says.

“My hope is that we can inspire those who don’t have a team in their hometown to do what we’re doing – to go out and build one.”

Crowley (centre) with the club’s coaching and management team
The club will play at the 1,500-capacity Dietz Stadium
The first player trials were held at the beginning of March under the watchful eye of head coach George Vizvary
The first player trials were held at the beginning of March under the watchful eye of head coach George Vizvary (left picture)
Crowley hopes to garner national and international interest in the Stockade project
Merchandise was made available in February – before the club had signed a single player
 


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SELECTED ISSUE
Sports Management
21 Mar 2016 issue 116

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Leisure Management - Dennis Crowley

Entrepreneurship

Dennis Crowley


How do you go from being a tech innovator to launching a professional sports club? Entrepreneur and founder of FourSquare, Dennis Crowley, is about to find out

Tom Walker, Leisure Media
Dennis Crowley founded social media platform FourSquare in 2008
Crowley (centre) with the club’s coaching and management team
The club will play at the 1,500-capacity Dietz Stadium
The first player trials were held at the beginning of March under the watchful eye of head coach George Vizvary
The first player trials were held at the beginning of March under the watchful eye of head coach George Vizvary (left picture)
Crowley hopes to garner national and international interest in the Stockade project
Merchandise was made available in February – before the club had signed a single player

Serial internet entrepreneur Dennis Crowley is working on his next venture. This time, however, the New York-based founder of Foursquare and Swarm won’t be at his workspace, masterminding an app or a new piece of tech. Rather, he’ll most likely be either standing next to a soccer pitch, assessing young talent, or pitching for a sponsorship deal.

Crowley’s latest project is Stockade Football Club, a men’s semi-professional team based in Kingston, New York, US. The club will begin its first season this May, playing in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), the fourth level of the US soccer pyramid.

“We’re starting from scratch,” says Crowley, who spent two years at Google after the tech giant acquired Dodgeball, another social media platform he created. “We’re building a brand and creating an identity – and of course getting a coach and recruiting players. The plan is to do it in a way which allows us to develop a story around it.”

GEOGRAPHY
Crowley says the motivation for launching a club stems from two sources – his love of soccer and the location of his new home. “I currently split my time between New York City and our new house in the Hudson Valley,” he says. “During the process of moving and making Kingston a permanent home, my wife and I simply fell in love with the area.

“I realised that there’s a huge amount of interest and enthusiasm towards soccer in Hudson Valley – but no team for people to support. Lots of people play the sport and many drive down to to see Major League Soccer (MLS) games in New York City, so there’s definitely a market for what we’re trying to achieve.”

What Crowley wants to achieve is to create enough excitement to fill the 1,500-capacity Dietz Stadium in Kingston – a venue which opened back in 1949 and until now has acted mainly as the home for Kingston High School’s Tigers football team. “We’re not talking about creating an MLS franchise here – we’re building a division four soccer team,” he explains in the somewhat modest setting.

BACKGROUND
When asked how he plans to transfer his considerable skills in creating social networks and utilise them in setting up a venue-based sports venture, Crowley says the synergies between the two are stronger than they might at first seem. “My background is in building tech companies which are supported by user communities,” he explains. “Working on Stockade FC feels very similar to that.

“You start with an idea which is a little bit crazy, but the more people you tell about it, the less crazy it becomes. You then get people to buy into it – to love the brand and the product – and before you know it, they’ve become supporters of it.”

To help local people fall in love with the Stockade brand, Crowley has made sure the club’s “story” is infused with the area’s rich heritage. “Kingston is steeped in American history and the town dates back to the original Dutch settlers of the mid-1600s,” Crowley says. “Kingston was also the first capital of New York state.”

The club’s name and logo reference a historic wooden stockade fence – 16ft tall, made out of logs – which protected the mid-17th century Dutch settlement, known as Wiltwyck. That history is still alive in Kingston, located 91 miles north of New York City .

“To this day there’s an area called the Stockade District – and the Dietz Stadium where we play is only a five-minute walk from it,” he says.

TAKING ON THE BIG BOYS
While the club might be the only team in its geographical market, the global nature of soccer and the world’s leading clubs means Stockade FC will have some powerful rivals. Manchester United, Liverpool FC, Real Madrid and Barcelona all have huge followings in the area. In New York City, for example, there are sports bars which declare themselves “United-friendly”, due to being located close to venues decked out in Liverpool flags.

Crowley relishes the challenge and is even planning on taking the “super clubs” on at their own game – by securing support outside the team’s immediate market.

“I know that people in the Hudson Valley will be very excited about us,” he says. “But the question is, can we get people outside Hudson Valley excited too – people in New York City, people outside New York state, outside the US, even? Whether there’s an opportunity for that is one of the things we’re really interested in exploring.”

The efforts are already in full swing. Stockade FC’s first ever game might still be 10 weeks away, but an online shop offering international shipping for a range of branded merchandise has already opened. No surprise, perhaps, given Crowley’s skillets.

If the experiment does work and Stockade FC manages to secure a space in soccer fans’ consciousnesses, Crowley is keen to help others faced with the same task.

“If we get Stockade to the point where we think we’ve made something great – something that people love – we can then start turning our attention to how we might be able to help other clubs get off the ground,” he says.

“My hope is that we can inspire those who don’t have a team in their hometown to do what we’re doing – to go out and build one.”


Originally published in Sports Management 21 Mar 2016 issue 116

Published by Leisure Media Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385 | Contact us | About us | © Cybertrek Ltd