The unique world created by the expansive reach of social media and internet movers and shakers has created room for companies and individuals to capitalize on a new market. The opportunities in a relatively new industry – digital branding and social media marketing – have multiplied in number, and many young entrepreneurs are working to get their names at the forefront of the field.
One of these young leaders, Toby Laine, a former infantryman who became an entrepreneur in the sports industry has already built an impressive resume at 24 years old. With attention to detail and comprehensive knowledge about his market and customers, Laine has become a serial brand-builder, servicing clients across a large international network. In a recent interview, he answered some questions about his life and career.
What kickstarted your business ventures?
My first entrepreneurial venture was when I was 20, I was still in the Infantry at that time and my father has been diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer with zero to none in chances of surviving and it drastically changed my way of seeing life in general. I decided to start a collegial formation in business launching while spending hours and hours at the hospital outside of my courses and my job as a military.
Then, I launched a success story clothing brand, due to the amazing marketing that I’ve done, which I sold only a couple of months after, after having received an offer that I couldn’t decline.
From there I got involved in my first passion. This led me to be working with professional hockey athletes here in Canada as a hockey goalie coach like Maxime Lagace, Yanick Turcotte and many others QMJHL, coaching with former pro NHL players like Joé Juneau, Eric Chouinard and schools where some of the best actual players have played. I made & I’m still making a ton of great contacts from many different sports & leagues.
I’ve helped pro athletes like former CFL player Frederic Plesius to start their own business after their career, making sure they have a self-fulfilling after-career. During all that time, I’ve been learning the intricacies of Instagram growth and management in an effort to drive traffic to online points of sale in order to generate revenue. This evolved into a digital marketing offer where I currently help and make case studies with D1 collegial athletes from some of the best universities in the USA, which will be turned into a one of a kind agency in the near future, revolutionizing the game.
As I continued to develop my skillset and done a Master Degree in Sports Management from the very well reputed Johan Cruyff Institute from Barcelona, I became fortunate enough to work with some really high-profile people and businesses. This helped me scale and gave me a boost to continue to crack the code of social media to give the chance to many more of my athletes to generate additional income sources in the near future, starting with my really deep knowledge in social media growth and then my skills in sponsorships reach & business launching.
What are your tips for young entrepreneurs who want to operate businesses and work with high-level clientele?
The first thing to do is to master something. It doesn’t really matter what it is, but it is important that you develop a skill that is extremely useful (preferably unique) and ideally caters to the people with who you want to surround yourself. Once you master that skill, it becomes a game of putting yourself out there and doing everything in your power to take shots and show people what you can do. If the first part is done right, you will eventually see a snowball effect of success.
Does your networking rely more on creating your own opportunities or waiting for things to fall into place?
I truly believe that you make your luck. You can’t force relationships, but you can create situations that have higher probabilities of allowing you to build certain relationships. Things sort of having to fall into place in small ways in order to get anywhere, but without seeking opportunities, the chance to even have something maybe fall into place would never initially have existed.
What key moments have shaped the path that you’re on professionally?
When I decided after my senior year of High School to take a chance and skip out on college and go in the army, it was one of the most terrifying, risky, but important moments in my entire life. At the time I could have had several colleges offers from top colleges, but I decided to throw it all away to gain massive valuable experience in leadership skills & mental strength and the chance to serve my country, which I would definitely do again, because, leadership and mental – physical toughness, stress management like we learn there, you can’t buy that or learn anywhere else, I felt I couldn’t pass up.
Moving forward, how will you be expanding on your career?
My goal at the moment is to continue building my business plan, my offers, building even more relationships, to launch my agency in the USA. I am in a very growth-oriented mindset at the moment and am surrounding myself with people, ideas, and projects that mesh well with that.
Toby Laine is a sports entrepreneur, brand-builder, and marketer whose clients include professional and collegial athletes from everywhere in the world. His agency is in massive development right now, soon to be revealed in the next few months.