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Women Entrepreneurs in Sport Panel hosted on International Women’s Day

By: Josh Kelly
First Published: April 8, 2021
Topics: Industry Partnerships, Sport, STHM School


On the evening of International Women’s Day, Temple University’s School of Sport, Tourism, and Hospitality Management (STHM) presented the Women Entrepreneurs in Sport panel.

The panel was moderated by Nnenna Akotaobi, founder of 122 Consulting Group, a team of professional consultants that promote diversity in hiring and management strategies.

Akotaobi led the group on topics such as the entrepreneurial process, challenges in acquiring start-up funding and finding resilience in taking risks as a business leader. The three panelists spoke candidly about their experiences and offered  advice to attendees of the event.

The panelists consisted of sport entrepreneurs Anika Jess, Ellen Hyslop, and Tiffany Kelly, who shared insights from their own experiences navigating the complexities that arise for women working in a male-dominated field. 

Although each panelist followed a unique path in the industry, they all operated from a similar set of premises; the first was that there wasn’t enough coverage of women in sports media, and the second was that women were largely absent as reporters and commentators in these environments.

Anika Jess founded She’s4Sports, an online community and speaker-series that recognizes and uplifts the contributions of diverse women in sport.  project has been covered by outlets such as SiriusXM, Yahoo! Sports and The New York Times.

Jess shared that, in the face of adversity, she was motivated by the question, “What can I do about it?”  The other panelists expressed similar motivations, and in doing so, were able to demonstrate how entrepreneurship can be leveraged to drive social change while also adding value to an industry.  

Funding and growth were frequently addressed during the panel discussion. Questions of ownership and accountability are critical when attempting to break the mold of an industry that is predominantly male-privileged and controlled by powerful media companies.

Ellen Hyslop co founded The GIST back in 2017. The GIST is a sports news network, podcast, and three-times weekly newsletter that has garnered a considerable following. Hyslop has recently been recognized for her achievements in media by the list Forbes 30 Under 30 Class of 2020.

“You want ownership, and you want good people to be working with you while you’re on your journey,” said Hyslop. She added, “You can earn money, you can be a successful company with equal coverage.”

Tiffany Kelly spoke to the importance of staying authentic, and the value of crowd-funding an operation in order to maintain autonomy as a voice for an underserved community. 

“I personally didn’t know anyone with money to write me a check,” Kelly reflected.  

Kelly founded a company called Curastory, a video production company that helps athletes and fitness professionals create and distribute their own content online. She started the company after deciding to forge her own path in the industry, having worked both at the start-up level and for established companies such as ESPN. The crowd-funding route worked well for her, and she was able to raise enough money needed to get the project up and running.   

The panel concluded with a Q&A followed by a piece of advice from each participant.  Questions focused on networking, developing fortitude and staying true to your interests. Discovering one’s passion, maintaining an openness to taking risks and being a go-getter were all pieces of advice offered.   

Finding one’s passion is not an easy task, but both Kelly and Hyslop offered insights from their own journeys. 

“Looking back, when you come out of school, you feel all of this pressure to get into the corporate world right away,” Hyslop reflected.  “At the end of day, you really don’t know who you are… take test drives of different things after school.”

“Have a passion in mind, not a job,” adds Kelly. “Figuring out why you actually want a job helps you find where your passions are.”