By: Amari Dryden, @Amari_Dryden
Front Office Sports is proud to have sat down with Edgar Walker, the co-founder and CEO of Surge4, a digital marketing company whose mission is to help their sport industry and non-profit clients grow their brand through digital media. Edgar has had many digital media jobs over the past couple of years such as creating his own high school basketball media website, and he hasn’t even graduated from college yet!
From a young age, Edgar thought he was going to be a sports writer.
“I’ve done a lot of sports writing, which is what got my foot in the door. Growing up, I would read the newspaper every day.”
But he became interested in all sides of the industry.
“I wasn’t even interested in the glamorous side of it, but the day-to-day processes that go on.”
He enrolled in a sports science program within his high school which jumpstarted his career.
“It focused on sports related careers and getting opportunities to meet people and learn about all the different sides of the sport industry.”
His childhood dream of becoming a sports writer has morphed into something bigger.
“I’ve evolved from the sports writing aspect and now am doing a lot more.”
When he was a junior in high school, he launched a high school basketball media and events company in his home state of Maryland called MDHoops.net and eventually sold it his senior year of high school as part of a merger with a Washington DC-area company DMVelite Showcase Events. Being a sixteen-year-old entrepreneur comes with some challenges.
“A challenge for me that I thought would be more difficult is my age. I was running a high school basketball website when I was younger than the guys I was writing about. The main thing was establishing credibility, because right out of the gate you need to be credible and make sure you’re firing on all cylinders. You need people to be able to trust you and see you as an expert and a leader.”
After that, for a few summers he started doing digital and social media for a couple different companies and built up his business through Twitter as a means for distribution and gaining a following. He met Jack Wohlfert, his eventual co-founder, at a University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill basketball game.
“We started talking and while I was thinking about launching this social media consulting firm, he was thinking of launching a web design company, so we joined up.”
Together, they founded Surge4 just under two years ago. Edgar does the content and sales side while Jack is in charge of the web development technology side.
Even though this isn’t Edgar’s first time running a business, he overcame even more challenges with his current enterprise.
“A big thing is figuring out who your decision makers are and being able to connect with them. Learning how to interact with potential clients and how to build awareness around the company. It’s important to build a strong brand with the people you’re working with and working for because a lot of our business comes from referrals.”
His current company is Surge4, a resource for companies to use to market their brand using digital media which Edgar defines as, “being able to deliver the experience of an event, company, etc. out to people wherever they are.” The digital media industry has evolved since Edgar first started.
“It was mainly writing and social distribution, but now I see that not everything is cut and dry. You are going to have to use a different platform or means of getting your content out there.”
Surge4 focuses on what they call the “Core 4” which encompasses web presence, social media, direct outreach and brand strategy. Edgar believes the evolution of social media is just getting started.
“I think a big thing is that you’re going to see a lot more native content meaning people will stop worrying about getting people to visit their website but seeing a lot more content designed for each media platform.”
He thinks teams do a good job of this because their goal is to reach fans where they are. The easier you make it for people, the better results you have. There’s really little things you can do that pay off.
“The key is to embrace those platforms as the content platform so all content should be built specifically for that social media platform.”
Even though it seems Edgar has done everything he could possibly do at such a young age, there is still one aspect of the sport industry he wants to get into.
“I want to do become more knowledgeable and get involved with the international sports scene. I’d like to learn more and someday get involved with sports overseas or international competition because it’s something I haven’t explored yet.”
All in all, Edgar’s advice for students who want to work in the digital media industry is to create relationships and continue to stay in touch with people.
“I stay in touch with 90 percent of the people I meet.”
Edgar has done digital and social media work at the grassroots level with Under Armour Basketball and Reebok Basketball for the past three summers which is one way he has established some great, deep relationships in the industry. He is also serving as Co-President of UNC-Chapel Hill’s sport business organization called the Carolina Sport Business Club.
Even if you are young, but have a passion for sports, go for it.
“Very early in my process, I would meet people and send them writing samples and have long phone calls just to prove even though I was sixteen, I could compete with anyone else in the industry.”
Another piece of advice Edgar stressed is determining what your skill set is.
“People also need to have a real skill and niche. Yes, you still need strong relationships which will get you opportunities but people also need to know what your skill set is. I tell students to identify what their skill is, whether that’s writing or business strategy or creative design.
“Also, make sure you can tell people about it. For me, my skill started out as writing and now has turned into social media, business and marketing strategy, and people know that about me. You need to determine your skill set and make sure influential people know what that is.”