An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis
Product Research — We spent about six months designing the platform and creating the data needed to power it. This will be a continual process as the product evolves. Technology never stops.
As a part of our series called “Making Something From Nothing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Josh Ebrahim.
As a former NBA agent who previously represented eight clients and worked with Drew Rosenhaus of Rosenhaus Sports Representation (RSR), Josh Ebrahim quickly came across numerous issues within performance and financial analysis that negatively impacted the real-time and projected value of his clients. To meet this challenge, Ebrahim reconsidered his career pursuits and created ProFitX.
ProFitX is a software company that provides access to real-time performance and financial insights and is powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI). The software Ebrahim created took three years of research and development and has been beta-tested with over 20 NBA teams. The Dallas Mavericks have since signed a multi-year deal with ProFitX and, as Mark Cuban has stated, the platform offers “advanced technologies [that] will provide us with the tools that allow us to gain a significant competitive advantage.” In addition, Forbes magazine suggests this could be the next frontier of sports analytics.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?
I grew up in a small town outside of Dallas, Texas, and was exposed to many sports. My family was
I founded my own boutique sports agency in 2016 after getting certified by the NBPA and had mild success signing two highly-rated prospects. Things didn’t work out the way I envisioned so I sought out a different opportunity and was hired by NFL Agent Drew Rosenhaus of RSR as a Certified NBA Agent and VP of Basketball Operations. I then represented eight NBA athletes during my career (including 1st round draft pick, Anfernee Simons).
As an agent, I needed to find a way in which I could make decisions on the fly with dynamic information during free agency to best represent my clients and get them the contracts they deserved in negotiations with NBA teams. In order to make this happen, I left my position in 2019 to create ProFitX and supply the necessary technology for all stakeholders while changing the sports ecosystem for the better by bringing transparency and balance to sports analytics.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorite quote is from the father of a player I was recruiting my first year at Ebrahim Sports. I was a finalist to sign a highly-rated prospect and asked him why I made it to the final round of interviews. I remember his father saying, “You’re a bulldog, Josh, you’re tenacious, you keep coming, and coming, and coming and that’s why I know you’re going to be successful.”
Even though he didn’t end up signing with me, I’ve always remembered that moment and it has been my mantra ever since. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs, but I continued to try to put myself in a good position to succeed and be persistent. Good things happen to people who are determined and he ended up introducing me to Rosenhaus Sports.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
Bill Simmons’, The Book of Basketball is one of my favorites. It resonates with me for a lot of reasons. Each chapter feels like a progression of the game. I get flashbacks from my earlier years because I got to witness almost three decades of basketball and read that change from his eyes. I feel like I have and will continue to be on that parallel journey with ProFitX and every sport for which we build.
Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. There is no shortage of good ideas out there. Many people have good ideas all the time. But people seem to struggle in taking a good idea and translating it into an actual business. Can you share a few ideas from your experience about how to overcome this challenge?
I think a lot of it comes down to what problem you’re attempting to solve, and whether it will bring value to your end-users. Then, it’s important to focus on the quality of the product and get it validated. People are going to tell you “no” a lot at the beginning, but the key is to stay the course and push through. I originally pitched the idea to investors as a sports agency and was laughed at in multiple email responses. After I solidified the partnership with the AI company to build the platform, my uncle ended up investing before I even started and he understood the risk involved with no product. But his initial support gave me a lot of confidence heading into the project and it keeps me confident I’ll get it to the finish line. We also stupidly projected this project to be done in six months, yet it actually took two and a half years to complete with lots of ups and downs.
Often when people think of a new idea, they dismiss it saying someone else must have thought of it before. How would you recommend that someone go about researching whether or not their idea has already been created?
Trust your gut…listen to your intuition. Ask questions and do the necessary research.
For the benefit of our readers, can you outline the steps one has to go through, from when they think of the idea, until it finally lands in a customer’s hands? In particular, we’d love to hear about how to file a patent, how to source a good manufacturer, and how to find a retailer to distribute it.
I think there are a lot of things that need to align to get past the first phase. I actually took my time planning out the concept and going through the motions. It ended up being the right decision for me. I spent the first two months testing the concept of the contractual algorithms and integrating the CBA parameters to see what it would look like.
After validating the concept, I filed for a provisional patent application and spent about seven days sketching out the designs for the software and the models and drafting a write-up of what it would be. Once that was done, it was really about finding the right partner to carry out the plan. I did a lot of research, due diligence, and explored several options to make sure I felt comfortable with the development company I selected. Lots of testing was administered in order to release it to market, and once that happens, it’s about getting your brand story out there and educating the users as to why this will be beneficial for them in the long run.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Started Leading My Company” and why?
- Pivot when you need until you find the recipe that works.
We started development to create a consumer product to strengthen our overall business model, and eight months later, we have a growing list of partnerships and additional product offerings. Always be aware of the landscape in which you work and be ready to read the signs along the way to inform your decisions.
2. Believe in your vision and deliver quality.
It took three years to build, test, and configure my technology. It was built with love and I think that shows in the design. The vision was the only thing holding everything together to get to the end, and even then, the work is now just getting started, and I know there will inevitably be some resistance to our new innovation.
3. Be prepared to ride a roller coaster.
There are a lot of highs and lows as a startup. One of the most important things is to learn how to ride the wave and take the next best step for your company.
4. Get ready to work.
It’s a 24/7 job that requires a lot of grunt work. As the founder, you have to wear many different hats and that forces you to learn how to do every aspect of your business.
5. Be prepared for a lot of nos.
People are resistant to change, but I’m real and raw with every person and my story. They need to understand the story behind it and what it took to create.
Let’s imagine that a reader reading this interview has an idea for a product that they would like to invent. What are the first few steps that you would recommend that they take?
- Market Research — You need to know what competitors are out there if any, and what the overall market looks like.
- Customer Research — You have to know who you are going after as customers and how they will use the product.
- Product Research — We spent about six months designing the platform and creating the data needed to power it. This will be a continual process as the product evolves. Technology never stops.
- Patent Search — This was rigorous and done multiple times to ensure the likelihood of obtaining the patent.
- Time Stamp Your Idea — Buy yourself some time, most founders won’t have the product ready but will have the idea ready. So it’s important to either file a provisional patent application once you have built and sketched out everything you need to bookmark your idea. Then you will file for a non-provisional patent application once you have the product developed out in the next year. I’ve also heard of a crafty technique that involves mailing the application to yourself.
There are many invention development consultants. Would you recommend that a person with a new idea hire such a consultant, or should they try to strike out on their own?
Two heads are better than one. It really depends on what you are lacking and your strong suits. The more versatile the product, the more leverage you have. Don’t be afraid to pivot to expand your offerings and find a sweet spot. I relied on my development team heavily to help me execute my vision and would not be here without their expertise.
What are your thoughts about bootstrapping vs looking for venture capital? What is the best way to decide if you should do either one?
I truly believe it depends on the mission and leadership of the company. Obviously having financial firepower can help every business. But my number one goal is to get the company to profitability as quickly as possible and expand from there. We are currently exploring venture capital but are mindful of how we want the company to grow organically and sustainably.
Ok. We are nearly done. Here are our final questions. How have you used your success to make the world a better place?
Teaching! I have been an Adjunct Professor at Monroe College for the past five years teaching business, accounting, and information technology.
I try to prepare my students with real-work experience, the importance of dreaming big, and being able to go and get what you want. I also plan to be heavily involved in philanthropic ventures soon. We just signed a corporate partnership with the school in which I teach and are exploring opportunities to revolutionize the classroom experience as well as the curriculum with ProFitX’s first piece of software, the Athledex.
We are also hosting interns and offering scholarships to students this year with the school so it’s been pretty exciting. I’ve also been fortunate to utilize the members of my team at ProFitX for an executive panel to provide students with further insights into the future of sports.
You are an inspiration to a great many people. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I think a serious climate and wildlife discussion needs to be addressed with more research and resources to actually start making a change. I aspire to be in a position where we can give back and bring more light to these issues we are facing.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
Pat Riley. He is an absolute legend in my books. I really admire his career and how he approaches the business of professional sports.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.
Making Something From Nothing: Josh Ebrahim Of ProFitX On How To Go From Idea To Launch was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.