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The Big Picture San Diego Blog

MetroConnect Prize Company Profile: VAVi Sport & Social

September 24, 2015

This is part of an ongoing series on the recipients of the MetroConnect Prize, presented by JPMorgan Chase, a grant awarded to 15 companies looking to expand into new foreign markets.

Living in San Diego, businesses and its employees are fortunate to have the highest quality of life – with more than 3,055 hours of year round sunshine, access to nationally recognized beaches, and touted as one of the healthiest cities in the nation. San Diegans are able to go surfing in morning, go to work during the day, and make a tee time just before dinner.

Due in part because of the region’s high quality of life, San Diego’s Sports and Active Lifestyle (SAL) industry cluster is one of the most concentrated among major metropolitan regions in the U.S. In the economic impact study released by EDC in 2013, SAL in San Diego represented more than 1,200 businesses and approximately 23,000 employees.

No wonder that VAVi Sport & Social is quickly becoming one of the most prominent sport league and social event organizers in the nation. VAVi’s beginnings were in creating and carrying out sports leagues around the county – from kickball to dodgeball to soccer. Soon VAVi began to organize large scale events – like the Del Mar Mud Run, taking place this weekend for its 6th consecutive year, and the Ridiculous Obstacle Course (ROC) race.

In February of this year, VAVi announced it would be partnering with Endemol, the producers of “Wipeout”, to organize and promote the WIPEOUT Run. Now the new ROC race, WIPEOUT Run has more than quadrupled the size of VAVi in the last two years.

“In terms of size, WIPEOUT Run is 80 percent of our business,” said Steve Stoloff, CEO of VAVi, in an interview with ABC 10.

And the next step for VAVi?

“VAVi is bringing its hit 5k obstacle series, ROC Race, to Australia,” said Stoloff. “The funds from MetroConnect will support our marketing and business development efforts in Melbourne and Sydney.”

Demand in Australia for the ROC race has been off the charts. According to Stoloff, “…the race sold out in less than 72 hours and we are getting ready to launch an additional day.”

The success of region’s small- and medium-sized businesses is critical to the region’s future, and increasing their global reach is crucial to that success. Through the MetroConnect Prize, companies such as VAVi Sport & Social received $10,000 grants to assist with their next step in going global.


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