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Q & A with Josh Shapiro, CEO of Baseball Lifestyle 101

Q & A with Josh Shapiro, CEO of Baseball Lifestyle 101

All college athletes are faced with the rigors of maintaining their grades while also fulfilling their commitment to their team and performing to the best of their abilities. Josh Shapiro, who played for Farmingdale State College in 2016, had a unique circumstance that made his work-life balance even more difficult. As the founder of Baseball Lifestyle 101, he was tasked with building a company as a freshman in college. This company had enjoyed a tremendous growth during the same time that he was trying to get the Rams to win a Skyline Conference title. He wound up performing well on the field, batting .272 with a .337 OBP over 92 at bats, but ultimately decided that while his future involved baseball, it wouldn’t involve playing the game.

Below is an exclusive interview with the CEO of Baseball Lifestyle 101. You can visit their web page here.

 

Describe your experience playing for Farmingdale State and do you miss playing?

My experience playing at Farmingdale State College was something I wouldn’t trade in for the world. To be able to continue playing the game I love at a high level was all I wanted to do since I was 8 years old. I got the great opportunity of being an every day player. I got to learn a lot from my teammates about the culture of Farmingdale baseball and what it’s all about. From waking up at 4:30 am to run sprints or those 3 hour plus practices.

After my freshman year my company of Baseball Lifestyle 101 started to really bring in some serious money and also take up a ton of my time. It was becoming very hard to balance 5 classes, baseball and running a company. So after my freshman year I decided to pursue the business and end my college career at Farmingdale State. This was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make in my life. Playing baseball has always been my life as well as my families. My dad was always at every game and attended every lesson. So leaving the game wouldn’t be easy is what I thought, but since then its been the best decision I ever made. My company has seen crazy growth and I’ve had experiences like non other. I have no regrets about walking away from the game that I love because I’m still able to be involved in an even closer way.

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When did you start selling apparel? How have sales grown since you started?

I started selling my merchandise only in August of 2016 when I launched my e commerce site. I wanted to make sure I established a brand first and created a connection with my followers before I asked them to buy anything. Since August the sales and community has exploded. Each and every month I think that there’s no way I can top last month and we always do. It really took off last November during the holidays season and it blew away my expectations.

Is it a one-man operation? Have you considered selling any portion of the company to raise capital?

I couldn’t do what I’ve done without the people around me and who have supported me. I currently am the only one with the account access to Baseball Lifestyle 101 but I have a great team around me. There are currently 6 people who work on the brand with me in different ways. Melissa who is my marketing manager and also Softball Lifestyle 101 account manager helps me with my day to day. There’s Frank who is my fulfillment manger, he sends orders out each day as well as answers any customer emails. Josh helps me with account management and day to day as he runs another account Dinger Lifestyle 101 and attends events with me to gather content. Kyle and Connor are my video guys who make custom content videos for me as well edit my vlogs etc. Tristan runs my podcast for me and also goes to the tournaments where we set up to sell. Each one of these people really help take stress off me day to day and its amazing to work with some of my best friends.

I haven’t considered selling any part of the company for capital as I’ve been able to use my own cash flow to buy inventory etc. I’ve received some money from the platform I host my website under but wasn’t for a percentage of company. As I continue to grow, those are some options I will need to look into further, but for now I continue to own 100% of my platform.
Do you plan to expand to other sports?
I do plan on extending into other sports as all of that has already started. We have Softball Lifestyle 101 which has over 60K followers and is top 3 in softball accounts on Instagram. I plan on getting every ounce of what I can get out of each of these sports and perfecting before I really focus on the next sport. People do not realize how much time and effort it takes to grow a platform on social media. I started the Baseball Lifestyle 101 page in 2013 and haven’t missed posting on social media for more than a few days in that time span. Its all about commitment and staying on top of things.
What is your primary age demographic?
My primary age target with Baseball Lifestyle 101 is really anyone who loves the game of baseball. We have followers from little leaguers all the way up to Major Leaguers.The kids we really seem to love the brand are the younger kids. The age of 12-15 those are the kids that live eat and sleep Baseball Lifestyle 101. Ive met so many of these kids at events like the Little League World Series and the All-Star Weekend. The kids have a huge smile on their face and theres nothing like it. To be able to make kids smile from what I do and say thank you is truly humbling.
Who have your biggest influences been during this journey?
There have been so many influences on my journey of Baseball Lifestyle 101. One person that has really helped me throughout my journey is Billy Rom. Billy is the owner of Superior Athletics. I trained with Billy since I was at least 13 years old. One day I remember talking to Billy about an Instagram account I ran that had 5,000 followers back then. Ever since that day Billy has helped to mentor me in every decision I have made since then. I go to him about everything important with my company and we can sit for hours and hours to strategize about new things I can be doing. He’s become more than just a mentor but family. Im always at the gym especially now since my office is there in which he gave me space. The most amazing part about it all is Billy asks for nothing in return. Without Billy I’m truly unsure of where my business would look like today so I am forever grateful to him for that. He is the smartest business man I know and always is looking out for everyone’s best interest. I one day hope I can do the same for a kid looking to build something big. He has believed in my ability and always keeps me in the right direction.
The other two people are of course my parents. They have been on this journey with me since day one. They have always supported me and my business and believe in it just as much as they did when I was playing baseball. They’ve been supportive when I needed orders packed during the holiday season or helping me get my business legally started. They have always been there for me and continue to support me in everything I do.

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Vinny is the Editor-In-Chief of aXcess Baseball. He is a 2013 graduate of Adelphi University. He previously worked for Bleacher Report and Baseball Info Solutions.

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