How Erika Nardini became one of the most powerful people in sports media
In a recent Public.com Town Hall with retail investors, Nardini discussed her tips for entrepreneurs, how to get good content right, and Barstool's bold future.
Erika Nardini has had a rather unusual career path but one thing has always stayed the same: her resilience and ability to find creative solutions to problems. She started working in the internet sector in the late 1990s and has worked in finance, tech, music, and advertising.
Today, she’s the CEO of media company Barstool Sports, a strategic partner for casino and racetrack operator Penn National Gaming ($PENN). $PENN currently holds a 36% stake in the company.
Barstool produces content across podcasts, streaming and on-demand video, social media, and its app and website. The company launched its online sports betting platform Barstool Sportsbook in 2020 and recently announced its first foray into acquiring TV sports rights as the exclusive title sponsor and broadcast partner of the upcoming Arizona Bowl. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Barstool launched Barstool Fund, a fundraising non-profit that provides financial support to small businesses across the US.
In a recent Public.com Town Hall with retail investors, Nardini discussed her tips for entrepreneurs, how to get good content right, and Barstool’s bold future.
The below is excerpted from Erika Nardini’s Public Town Hall, which can be viewed in full here.
Be open about the future of your company
Nardini told Public.com investors that there were too many unknowns to have a clear vision for the future of her company over the next five years.
“I wouldn’t have guessed 5 years ago that we would be here so I don’t want to guess where we will be in 5 years. I’ll probably be wrong,” she said.
“I want to be bigger, bolder and brighter than we are today. That’s about it.”
Getting content right is key
As a media company that combines advertising, merchandise, and betting, it’s important that Barstool delivers great content above all.
“The more we can make great content & give people ways to transact (own it, wear it, see it, bet it) the better off we will be as a business,” Nardini shared. “The synergies are unlimited if we get the content right.”
Look for ways to diversify your revenue streams
One retail investor asked where Barstool plans to expand next. Nardini said it all depends on the content and her desire to stay diversified.
“We will always invest in content first & figure out monetization second. We will also always have a diverse revenue set – I like making money in different ways,” she said.
Doing so allows Barstool to be “flexible and authentic,” but she does expect sports betting to become a bigger part of the company.
Take into account legal and regulatory concerns
When it comes to things like sports betting, state laws and regulations can be a hindrance.
“I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, in fact it’s important to be compliant and adherent to state by state guidelines…that said the fact that the roll out is managed and regulated on a state by state basis means that every launch is bespoke which is in and of itself a hindrance to speed and scale,” Nardini said.
Find your motivation in life
Retail investors wanted to know what keeps Nardini motivated, given how much she’s accomplished over the years.
She shared, “I’m motivated to learn and to do things. That’s what gets me up every day. I feel very lucky to be in a place where there is a lot of freedom to create and do things every day. This is very energizing and keeps me going!”