By CAMRYN BEAUMONT
Former UT men’s lacrosse player Danny Soviero founded Signature Lacrosse in 2015 out of his college apartment. A junior finance and accounting major and member of the lacrosse team at the time, Soviero saw an opportunity for better-quality lacrosse balls and seized it.
He spent time researching how the chemical makeup of a lacrosse ball combined with exposure to UV rays and friction from play causes it to lose its quality within seven days. Soviero wanted to recreate a lacrosse ball while focusing on consistency and composition.
Toward the end of spring semester of his junior year, he began soliciting manufacturing partners and having them send him prototypes from across the world. With the intention of bootstrapping his business, Soviero took no funding from investors looking to sponsor his ideas.
“The hardest thing I ever did was stop playing lacrosse in college,” Soviero said. “I never had that break-out season because I was so busy with Signature Lacrosse. I’d have to decide between taking a call for a $5,000 deal or sitting with the team to watch lacrosse film, it was an easy decision. And I didn’t care.”
Soviero’s vision became a reality in summer 2016. “I got in the first container of lacrosse balls at the end of that summer,” Soviero said, “I set up the accounting, planning on selling the container throughout that following [school] year and I ended up selling the whole container within a month, which was just a little over $100,000 in sales.”
Once Soviero realized the difficulty of balancing school, lacrosse and a budding business, he began hiring employees and looking for a business location. He decided not to return to school in the fall of 2016. Soon after, Soviero closed a $1.2 million three-year contract with Lacrosse Unlimited, the country’s largest lacrosse-specific retailer. He then sought out now business partner and former teammate Nick Martin. “It was getting to the point where I needed help. He jumped on board as a co-founder, and then stopped going to school in the spring,” Soviero said. Martin was a senior when he dropped out.
As of now, Signature Lacrosse fulfills product shipment from China directly to the biggest retailers in the sport including Lacrosse Unlimited and LAX.com.
“We also have representatives who will go out and solicit teams for their business; we do fulfillment for that from our warehouse [in Tampa],” Soviero said.
In a very short amount of time, Signature Lacrosse has managed to take on three full-time sales representatives who Soviero insists have been key to their success. One of these sales reps happens to be Charlie Cummins, senior sociology major and captain of the men’s lacrosse team.
“I’m responsible for all communication between [Signature Lacrosse] and its retail partners. I also work to develop new business in retail markets,” Cummins said. “The atmosphere in the office is the perfect combination of hard work and humor.”
Men’s lacrosse head coach Rory Whipple declined to comment when asked if he had any advice or well wishes for Martin and Soviero.
In an effort to support and influence the UT community, Martin and Soviero have also created four internship programs within their business: marketing, IT, design and sales. “I think there are a lot of strong students coming out of UT who are hungry to succeed and have an opportunity which is different than a normal corporate job,” Soviero said.
Signature Lacrosse has also gotten involved in the lacrosse community in Tampa. Soviero began working with a non-profit called Coyotes Youth Lacrosse, recreating their infrastructure and overall strategic organization plans. In addition, they have created an initiative called “Sticks in Schools,” which provides lacrosse curriculum for schools in the area; this includes a 50 minute class on the fundamentals of the sport.
“It is rare for an individual to demonstrate the level of success that Dan has in such a short time out of school by being able to practically and pragmatically translate classroom knowledge to real life business,” Erik Usher, President of Coyotes Youth Lacrosse said. “He has his finger on the pulse of budget, personnel, current economics, potential for growth, return on investment, calculated risk and most importantly he does this with humble ethics.”
Soviero says he does not regret dropping out and insists there are many exciting things coming in the spring for both Signature Lacrosse and the Tampa lacrosse community as a whole.