1Tell us about your role as Co-Founder & CEO of Toronto Sports Performance (TSP). What does a typical day look like for you?
I’m sure you’ve heard this before but no two days are alike here at TSP. This is especially the case in the last few months as I’ve co-founded another business, District, which is an online community and media agency that aims to build a borderless community.
My role at TSP is to give guidance to our amazing team and staff. We’ve been lucky to work with some of the smartest technical and creative thinkers in Toronto, and it really shows in what we’ve been able to amass with both TSP and District.
As my co-founder and business partner, Dr. George Mikhail has a keen ability to approach health and care in a way that resonates with today’s user and together we’ve been creating an environment that fosters this mentality in everything we do.
2How did you know that this was the area in which you wanted to work? What led you to this path and what influenced you to create your own sports medicine business?
Great question, I didn’t always know this was the path I wanted to follow. My path up until now has really zigged and zagged, and my guiding light has always been focused on my curiosity.
In my younger years, I played high-level basketball which acted as my escape growing up in a low-income neighbourhood. It helped me develop my foundation and soft skills that I bring into my entrepreneurial ventures today. My university years took place at Laurier where I studied Economics with a focus in Accounting. My biggest role model has always been my mom, she worked as an accountant in Toronto, and following in her footsteps was always a goal of mine which is the reason I went into university picking that path.
After my undergrad studies, I started working at CIBC Mellon as a Fund Accountant, while studying and working towards my CPA. As a son of an immigrant and single mother, I know how much education, a ‘good job’ and a stable work balance is valued in our house and community. But, as the CPA test date drew closer, I knew in my heart that Accounting was not my life passion, and this realization came to a head a few days before I was to write the exam, I had a split second change of heart and took a job with the MLSE. Working this closely with the Raptors, Leafs, TFC and Argos is a dream every kid in Toronto has, and it was a great learning experience.
After my time at the Raptors, I wanted to connect more with grassroots organizations and help grow the culture of basketball with Canada’s youth which led me to work as a Sr. Digital Marketing Manager with North Pole Hoops. This role took me across Canada. I had the privilege of seeing the opportunities and barriers that exist in pushing Canada to the forefront of the global basketball scene. I grew a lot in my role at NPH, and I came to a point where I realized I needed to take a chance on myself, take a chance with TSP and enter the entrepreneurial space.
3A large part of your role involves business development and building upon the brand that is TSP. What went into establishing TSP as a brand and how are you continuing to market and grow further?
When it comes to growing TSP, I truly believe in the power of our clients and the voice of the customer. Our business has grown based on word of mouth referrals and client testimonials, much like other players in the space.
TSP’s co-founder Dr. George Mikhail started TSP in early 2019, months before I came on board, my role was to continue pushing the needle when it comes to building a business that disrupts and innovates the traditional way health and care is delivered. To push the needle for marketing I draw in my second business: District.to. District is an online platform and marketing agency, with a mandate of creating a borderless community, in essence, District and TSP operate on the same principle in the digital and physical spaces.
4In addition to business development, you also oversee the financials and marketing of TSP. How do you stay organized between the many facets of your responsibilities?
When it comes to the smooth running of the business, I wear a lot of hats, and that is true of our entire staff and larger team. We rely on each other to have constructive conversations about how we can keep improving the client experience by delivering boundary-pushing medical care and support.
I’m the first to admit, I’m not the most detail-oriented member of the TSP crew, I work with diligent and creative folks who help bring our vision, strategy and marketing goals into real-time achievements. Being the co-founder of a digital creative agency allows for deep synergy between TSP and District and although the businesses exist in adjacent spaces, there are many collaborations that help the marketing strategies of TSP.
5In the past, you’ve worked in a few different marketing/partnerships roles such as in Global Partnerships with MLSE and Digital Marketing with North Pole Hoops. How does the marketing for TSP differ from those previous roles?
The marketing mandate at TSP is a culmination of everything I’ve learned from my previous roles. During my time at MLSE and North Pole Hoops, I learned the importance of media and messaging consistency, as well as fusing an element of storytelling into every piece of material that reaches our end consumer.
When it comes to the marketing and messaging that TSP brings to the world, I’ve kicked this up a notch, we’re gritty. Each piece of content, post, and partnership that we announce from TSP needs to meet one criterion: does this move the TSP community forward? I am learning every day about the importance of messaging, listening to our consumers and moving the cultural needle and this comes from working in synergy with both of the teams I straddle, TSP and District.
6Shifting focus to what TSP specializes in, one of the facets of TSP is injury rehabilitation. Tell us about how TSP ensures recovery and rehabilitation are successfully implemented in order for athletes to return to play.
You’re right, the main focus of TSP is to help athletes of every level integrate recovery and rehabilitation into their everyday practices so they’re ready to play feeling stronger, healthier and more supported than before. The main reason we’re able to accomplish that is because we look at health through a holistic lens, we blend health and care, our approach helps athletes examine and improve every aspect of their life.
Our space is designed to facilitate rapid recovery, we have state of the art compression boots and other accessories that help promote healing and relaxation. Apart from being in the TSP family as a client, this includes receiving personalized treatments and recovery plans. This includes discussing their diet, sleeping patterns and of course, we’re strong champions of prioritizing mental health at TSP!
7What advice would you give to prospective entrepreneurs looking to work within the sports realm but just starting off in their career?
I get asked this question a lot, and I would tell them that success is measured by the difficult conversations you’re able to have in your life. The sports industry, whether as a player or in the marketing and operations industry is not an easy space to break into, to make a name for yourself here you need to face failures and grow your expectations.
In a recent District Panel, we had Blue Jays, VP Jay Stenhouse. He spoke about how expectations are the intersections of what others believe you can achieve, and what you have yet to unlock. Everyone has a space and voice in the sports industry. It takes passion, focus and believing in yourself, it means creating resonance over reach in your networks. Another key member of District, and a personal mentor of mine, Nancy Spotton, is a thought leader in the sports business realm in Canada and beyond, I recommend you check her out online for more actionable advice!
Hayley's Final Thoughts
Having an entrepreneurial mindset can really pay off. Not only has Josh co-founded Toronto Sports Performance, but he's also co-founded another business, District. For many, it's hard to find a career path early on when entering the workforce. Take it from Josh; he started in Accounting, made his way into the sports business industry, then flipped the switch and became an entrepreneur. Although Josh was unsure of his career direction, he took a chance and did what would ultimately, make him happy in the long-run. After all, when you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life!