How to Get the Most Out of Every Opportunity Opportunities may be everywhere but delivering value from them is the real measure of success.

By Jeff Walker

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Identifying opportunity is at the core of what every entrepreneur does.

That's where my co-founders and I at Stellwagen Ventures found ourselves just over two years ago, looking for the white space around a growing volume of multi-venture opportunities in the world of music and sport.

So we went fishing and ended up with a whale on the line. Since then, we've represented over $2bn in music rights and catalog deals, becoming a top global adviser on large-scale investments in music and sport.

Going for great

The market was much thinner back when Stellwagen Ventures got started, but the key for us was to see where the game was headed, not where it was. As legendary Hall of Fame hockey hero Wayne Gretsky famously said: "I skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been."

Related: The 4 Actions You Must Take to Find Your Opportunity

Taking a cue from the current market and projecting that ethos into our own space was what gave us the confidence to go for it, along with a serious early mover advantage.

Inevitably starting up in pursuit of opportunity puts a lot on the line. I had more than twenty years of leadership roles in entertainment and technology. My co-founder Matthew Baxter enjoyed board-level involvement at a major EPL club as well as twenty years of experience in film and television.

The burgeoning synergies between music and sport gave us confidence in a business model that would resonate strongly with our client base, aka our networks.

So in 2020 Matthew and I launched Stellwagen Ventures as a UK-based music, sport, media investment and advisory group.

It was a calculated risk with a significant opportunity cost. But the spur for that aspirational leap of faith was the chance to control our own destiny and create something of value, something great.

Opportunities are made, not found

Recognizing the opportunity was just a springboard, then the hard work started — and it was an eye-opening experience, to say the least.

Developing the opportunity to build value needs a robust business model that will perform well and the commitment to follow it through with a true sense of urgency, every minute, every moment. That's the hard work.

All this insane effort and remorseless discipline must be underpinned by trust and respect within the team, and for all the others you work for and with. How you get things done matters as much as what you do.

But looking back it's clear to us that identifying the opportunity only gets you to first base. Developing it provides the vital spark. It's a multistage strategic process that demands constant proactive inputs.

So we can agree opportunities are made not found.

Expanding the opportunity is never a done deal; it takes a relentless focus on outcomes and the resilience to reshape and adapt the model as you go along.

Related: Richard Branson on How to Spot an Opportunity

This is something we learned early on as it was several months before we brought our first significant revenue through the door. That was a moment for reflection, an understanding that this was real, very real, and it was proof that we can add value to some of the biggest and most powerful investors in the world.

Riding the Wave

We had always appreciated the synergy between music and sports, how they increasingly complimented each other. You can think about the NFL and half-time at the Superbowl, of course.

Then consider the unprecedented new partnership between Jay-Z's Roc Nation and AC Milan to see where this can go. With a promise to "excite and surprise" fans this enterprise will support the club across seven key verticals including philanthropy and digital activities.

In riding this wave we had an inbuilt advantage with the deep background in sports provided by my business partner, a former Chief Commercial Officer and board director at Liverpool FC, and this continues to drive us forward within this multi-billion dollar sector.

Finding the Future

On the other hand, current turbulence is testing the idea that existing models in music and sports financing can thrive in the face of rising interest rates, concerns over RoI and further emerging macroeconomic shocks.

But you know what, we're not phased by any of this. We're passionate about what we do and we're going to keep adding value for all our clients at Stellwagen.

Related: Are You Missing A Big Opportunity? Ask Yourself This Question

We're as deeply engrained in European sport as global music. We know where the fish are swimming and where the capital is landed.

Our view is that the current turbulence will ultimately reveal new opportunities to be identified and shaped.

Rinse and repeat. We go forward to meet the next challenges with the same commitment, institutional understanding and enthusiasm that was born with Stellwagen more than two years ago.

Jeff Walker

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Writer

Managing Director

Jeff Walker is a founder of Stellwagen Ventures. He spent 20+ years at the intersection of entertainment and tech as EVP of BD & CMO at Vivoom Inc, a venture-backed startup working with Fortune 100 brands. He's held senior leadership roles at The Rounder Records Group and Sony Music Entertainment.

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