ESPN founder shares secrets of success.
LONGMEADOW, Mass.—Oct. 14, 2008—Bill Rasmussen, the founder of ESPN and College Fanz Sports Network, visited Bay Path College last week to share his story of entrepreneurial success with undergraduates, graduate students and alumni. The audience, fascinated by Rasmussen’s account of ESPN’s modest beginnings from just an idea in 1978 to now “The Worldwide Leader in Sports,” gained valuable insight as to the challenges they will face and the risks they will need to take if they choose to become entrepreneurs.
“As long as you have excitement, energy and enthusiasm, you can never be too young or too old to start a new business,” said Rasmussen. “You need to believe in your idea and stick with it in order to be successful.”
Rasmussen discussed the growth of ESPN coinciding with the development of the cable industry and the challenges ESPN faced as he secured investors and television programming. His entrepreneurial daring led ESPN to become the world’s first 24-hour cable television network, where he pioneered such innovations as “SportsCenter,” NFL draft coverage and wall-to-wall coverage of NCAA regular season and March Madness basketball. Rasmussen also broke cable television’s advertising barrier by signing on Anheuser-Busch as cable television’s first million-dollar advertiser.
He spoke about his early media career, which including stints at WTTT-AM in Amherst and WWLP-TV in Springfield, and his entrepreneurial ventures, such as his first business Ad Aid Inc. and his latest endeavor College Fanz Sports Network. Since its premiere on September 7, 2007, 28 years to the day after launching ESPN, College Fanz has become the world’s largest online college sports community for students, alumni and fans of college sports. It is changing the way college sports news and information is delivered to fans worldwide, just as his earlier creation, ESPN, changed the way people watched sports and sports news on television. Following the discussion, Rasmussen answered questions related to his career and met with students one-on-one as he signed copies of his book Sports' Junkies Rejoice: The Birth of ESPN.
The event was part of a day-long celebration honoring Rasmussen for his entrepreneurial achievements. Following the discussion and book signing, the Enfield Athletic Hall of Fame held a private reception and question-and-answer session with Rasmussen and invited guests. The Bay Path discussion was arranged by Chairman of the Enfield Athletic Hall of Fame and Bay Path MBA student Michael Cotnoir as part of Bay Path’s Entrepreneurial program, which is a unique course of study, emphasizing entrepreneurial thinking, leadership and innovation, and provides students at all levels (undergraduate to graduate) with a framework to be successful in today's business climate. Throughout the year, the program brings speakers to campus, and Bay Path students learn first-hand about the challenges, risks and rewards associated with starting a business.
“Our students were very fortunate to have the opportunity to meet Mr. Rasmussen,” said Bay Path President Carol A. Leary. “He is an extremely successful individual, and his story has inspired our entrepreneurial students and alumni to move forward and pursue their visions for a substantial business.”