Ryan Johnson is a graduate of Oakwood University. Currently, he is completing his master’s degree in Sports Administration at Georgia State University. Since completing his bachelor’s degree Ryan has worked in various roles in the technology, sports, and entertainment industries.
With expertise in sponsorships, business development, brand partnerships, consumer insight, and trends. Now he is combing his passions and talents to build and expand Cxmmunity.
Ryan began his professional career as an Account Executive with Vonage Business. He was responsible for maintaining a client base that met monthly and quarterly metric goals. Shortly after he accepted a role as an IT Consultant with Adapture. Adapture is an award-winning IT firm located in Sandy Springs, GA.
Winning CRN Tech Elite and Atlanta Business Chronicle Pacesetter Awards, Ryan was able to quickly develop skills around business development, project management, and customer experience with corporate organizations. In 2018 he joined RIISE Ventures and assisted in business development and event initiatives. RIISE Ventures had a focus on the esports, technology, and entertainment industries.
Ryan was able to curate events and create business partnerships at events including CES, NBA-All Star Weekend, Dreamhack Dallas/Atlanta, NCAA Final Four, and E3. Most recently, Ryan helped form a partnership between his nonprofit Cxmmunity and Twitch to create the HBCU Esports League.
Connect with Ryan on LinkedIn.
What You’ll Learn In This Episode
- Social impact
- Maximizing corporate partnerships
- Creating sustainable academic STEM programs
- Integrating media and sponsorships into your brand
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Intro: [00:00:04] Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX Studios in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s time for Atlanta Business Radio brought to you by onpay built in Atlanta. On Pay is the top rated payroll and HR software anywhere. Get one month free at Onpay. Now here’s your host.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:31] Lee Kantor here, another episode of GSU ENI radio, and this is going to be a good one today on the show, we have Ryan Johnson with cxmmunity. Welcome, Ryan.
Ryan Johnson: [00:00:42] Hey, Lee, thanks for having me, how are you?
Lee Kantor: [00:00:44] I am doing well, I’m excited to learn what you’re up to. Tell us a little bit about community. How are you serving, folks?
Ryan Johnson: [00:00:50] Absolutely. So Community is the leading EA Sports career and competitive pipeline for students of color. What we focus on is ensuring that minorities have representation in the growing EA Sports and video game industry, and we do that by partnering with underserved K through 12 institutions as well as HBCUs, and ensure that they have the appropriate resources to provide STEM curriculum and also EA Sports related competitions for the students on their campuses.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:19] So now why don’t you educate the listener a little bit about EA Sports as kind of an industry? Can can you talk a little bit about how large that is and where the opportunities you see lie?
Ryan Johnson: [00:01:31] Yeah, for sure. So the EA Sports industry is just a subsegment of the holistic video game. Industry is projected that the video game industry by the end of this year will reach. One hundred and seventy five billion dollars of recurring revenue in EA Sports currently makes up about one billion of that number. It is consistently growing. So you can consider EA Sports to be the competitive and professional and competitive amateur video game competitions. So essentially what you will have if we look at the state of Georgia as an example, Georgia was one of the first states in North America to actually recognize EA Sports as an interscholastic high school sport under the Georgia High School Sports Association. So you have schools that are competing in titles like Madden, Rocket League, League of Legends and Overwatch. And just like you would have them compete in a traditional sports schedule like basketball, football track and field or even swimming. So essentially, what you have happening in the state of Georgia is students that are competing at a super high level and winning state championships with their teams in high school are actually getting scholarships to attend.
Ryan Johnson: [00:02:39] Institutions like Georgia State, Georgia Tech, the University of Georgia and Kennesaw State, which also have East sports teams that are hand out scholarships as they’re looking to chase now national and collegiate titles. So the reason why this is important specifically for minorities is that if you look across the landscape, most EA Sports are played on gaming PCs instead of consoles and systems like Xboxes and PlayStations and Nintendos. So naturally, what you have happen is a socioeconomic divide within the school systems based on which schools and which districts can afford gaming PCs, and then also who can afford to pay a stipend for an EA Sports coach. So naturally, you lose majority of the inner city schools throughout North America. And then also most HBCUs do not have the additional resources to bring their EA Sports program to life. So holistically, that’s what we focus on. We’re an advocate and an advocacy group to help raise awareness for these institutions that want to be a part of this growing industry, but may not have the resources to do so themselves.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:48] Now is the opportunity for the young person to be a player and then get a scholarship or earn money being a professional or is the opportunity in being a creator and being involved in EA Sports in terms of being part of the teams that are creating the games or creating the communities within the games? Or is it both?
Ryan Johnson: [00:04:11] I would say it’s both. And then there’s another layer, which is the career path of STEM. Right? I think a lot of times we overlook the fact that at the end of the day, the video game industry is nothing but a subsegment of technology. So what we really focus on is ensuring that young students of color who love video games have they understand that within gaming, there is career path within production, within business and marketing and law that there’s career paths within computer programing, video game design, 3D animation. So where we really focus on is actually the career pathways because our ultimate mission through our company is to ensure that there’s a larger representation in the actual workforce and the gaming industry. But supplemental to that comes actual varsity competition like we’re talking about with EA Sports leagues, competitive collegiately and at the high school level. But then there’s also the casual and recreational competition that all exists within that same ecosystem. So we like to identify or really showcase the students those three variables or pathways to actually becoming professional. So playing and making money, playing casually and being part of an entity or actually working in the space as a working professional across I.T. and or business.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:33] So now with your work with community is that you’re advocating and evangelizing this opportunity. I guess you’re starting. With the young people in an elementary school level, is that where this begins?
Ryan Johnson: [00:05:48] So we we do have some students that are in elementary and middle school, but our true target is sophomores, juniors, seniors in high school and also college students. Because the idea is that once sophomores, these seniors in high school, you know, it could be a chance where they have not yet had the opportunity to identify what they want to study in college and or what college they want to attend. So as we continue to build out these EA Sports programs, especially at the HBCU level, if we take Atlanta as a perfect example, we infuse and interject gaming into the Atlanta public school system and simultaneously we help build out the e-sports ecosystem within the Atlanta University Center. So now students within apps know that they have the opportunity to attend a Morehouse or Clark, Atlanta, Spelman or Maurice Brown and be an active participant within that EA Sports program and even have the opportunity to earn scholarships and internships through our programs as well.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:46] So now who is your customer? Is the customer, the high schools or the individual consumer?
Ryan Johnson: [00:06:54] Our customers essentially are the academic institutions, but our largest stakeholders are corporate brands. So actually, how we drive revenue, if you can imagine over the last year and some change, there’s been upwards of five to $10 billion allocated from corporate America specifically to communities of color in response to a lot of the racial and social injustice in the country. So our largest constituent is actually taking everything that we talked about so far, packaging our entire program, competitive and career, and then go to a corporate brand like Microsoft or Verizon or Comcast or Red Bull. And they provide us marketing and social impact dollars, and that’s how we actually operate our business at large. So as it comes to being from the school standpoint, we actually don’t charge students or the schools to be a part of our program. We generate all of our revenue through social impact, dollars in corporate social responsibility, sponsorship and media investments from our corporate brands. Because one of the unique elements we’re able to leverage because we’re in the space of e-sports is a platform like Twitch. So when we’re able to take our programs that we’re describing our esports competitions, we create broadcasts and we throw it on a platform like Twitch. In our first year, we aggregated over 10 million live viewers that actually viewed our content. So brands are able to actually give back to communities that they’re looking to serve that are underserved, but also at the same time reach massive audiences on platforms like Twitch VR public broadcast.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:33] So then the value to the brand is not only just doing good, but it’s also there’s an opportunity for them to get their brand associated in these, you know, highly sought after environments.
Ryan Johnson: [00:08:46] Absolutely correct.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:48] So what do you need more of
Ryan Johnson: [00:08:51] At this point, we’re actually raising capital in our first year. It was really just myself and my co-founder, Chris Pierre. Now we have a team of nearly 17 people. We’re currently just looking to build out new IP within our business. So we’re actually looking to raise money right now to expand our operational expenses so we can bring on more programmatic directors, more curriculum directors, but more so is actually bringing in more marketers and brand directors. Because as we build our brand grow, our audiences grow our social channels, that actually makes us become more valuable to the corporate sponsors that we’re already working with just allows them to expand their reach and really say seek out the market segment that they’re looking to reach, primarily being the multicultural audiences in these inner cities throughout the country.
Lee Kantor: [00:09:42] Now, how did you get involved with the Main Street Entrepreneurship Seed Fund?
Ryan Johnson: [00:09:47] So for graduate school, I attended Georgia State, where I actually just finished this past summer with my master’s in sports administration. So just through being in the Georgia state network, that was my connectivity to the entrepreneurship, the actual the Maitri Seed Fund and then also historically, I’ve had a friend of mine go through it, so I was able to essentially observe his journey. So when the time became appropriate, I went ahead and applied.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:13] So how was that involvement helped take community to a new level?
Ryan Johnson: [00:10:18] I truly just through the mentorship and in relationships that we’re able to develop, one of our biggest advocates within the group is m’kay. And even this year through the program, we were able to work on a side project with Inc that allowed us to do a lot of market research and just do a little bit more discovery about our own business. So that was the main thing. It’s just relationships. That’s one of the biggest challenges, especially as a young company and young entrepreneurs is not necessarily knowing which doors to open or even who to talk to that has access to certain doors. So that’s why we’re really even excited for this upcoming Thursday to twenty eighth of October for demo day. Just an opportunity now to present ourselves to some of the more senior stakeholders and investors that we’ve been looking to connect with over the past couple of months.
Lee Kantor: [00:11:07] Well, congratulations on all the success. If somebody wants to connect with you or take a look at community, is the website live yet?
Ryan Johnson: [00:11:15] Yeah, absolutely. Our website is live and running and it’s Community Echo, but we spell our name and I t y Dot CEO. And that same, our website is basically how you can find this across all social media platforms. And if you’re interested to connect with me directly. Ryan Johnson on LinkedIn. But on Twitter and Instagram, you can find me at. Ryan ran it up so RIAA, NRA and I teamed up. So now I’m really appreciative of this opportunity and just grateful to continue building.
Lee Kantor: [00:11:50] Well, again, congratulations on all the success and thank you so much for sharing your story. You’re doing important work and we appreciate you and that website one more time to see immunity. Ceo Ryan Johnson, thank you so much for sharing your story. Thank you. All right, this is Lee Kantor. We will see you all next time on GSU. Any radio.
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