Brandon Steiner is the quintessential entrepreneur and well known among Latino athletes
Latin Biz Today advisory board member and sports lead Dave Torromeo chats with Brandon about, entrepreneurship and work, life balance.
I had the chance to sit down and speak with Brandon Steiner, the guru of all thing’s sports memorabilia recently.
Steiner is a serial entrepreneur and author and has an amazing view on business and life! He grew up in Brooklyn, New York. After graduating from John Dewey High School in Coney Island, New York, Brandon attended Syracuse University. Before becoming the King of Sports Memorabilia, Brandon worked with Hyatt Hotels and Hard Rock Café, where he was a big part in starting up these two – now major – corporations.
In 1985, Brandon and a team of investors opened up the Sporting Club, the first modern sports bar in the country. As the bar gained recognition and success, he started hiring athletes to make guest appearances, which is where he got the inspiration to open and become the Founder and CEO of Steiner Sports, a widely successful sports memorabilia company. After selling the company in 2019, Brandon decided to launch The Steiner Agency, CollectibleXchange, and Athlete Direct later that year.
Athlete Direct provides a platform where athletes can take control of their memorabilia while bringing the fans closer to the game. Athletes can sell used gear and/or autographed collectibles directly to their fans, thus offering a solution that connects directly with fans on a secure platform.
Enjoy the video!
In 2003, Brandon published his first book, The Business Playbook: Leadership Lessons from the World of Sports.
It was supported by a national book tour, as a result of which Brandon was invited to be a guest lecturer at some of the top business schools in the country, including The Harvard Business School, The Kellogg School of Business, Columbia and Yale. Brandon had serendipitously become a national motivational speaker and was invited to speak to Fortune 500 companies across many industries.
In 2012, Wiley & Sons published Brandon’s second book, You Gotta Have Balls: How a Kid from Brooklyn Started from Scratch, Bought Yankee Stadium, and Created a Sports Empire, which chronicles his long career and the life and business lessons he learned therein.
Brandon has also become a media personality as a regular guest on 98.7 FM/ESPN-NY Radio and co-host of the YES Network’s “Yankees-Steiner: Memories of the Game” series. He is frequently utilized as an expert commentator on sports and marketing on national news networks including CNBC, CNN, MSNBC and ESPN, and in newspapers including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. He also made several appearances on the MLB TV Network while promoting the MLB Fan Cave.
Steiner has created a new enterprise — Steiner Sports.
As Brandon met and got to know more and more athletes, he learned that most of them did not have anyone to represent them for speaking engagements or corporate appearances — and quickly recognized a valuable business opportunity for himself. In 1987, to fill that void, Brandon established Steiner Associates (later renamed Steiner Sports) with only $4,000, a one-room office, and an intern.
By the late 90s, Steiner Sports had dozens of employees and represented most of the big-name athletes in New York. It was about this same time that the company expanded its business focus to include marketing collectible items, since the athletes Brandon was representing were already signing memorabilia pieces that he used for corporate gifts. In time, Brandon’s business partners and clients began requesting autographed items almost as often as they did appearances by the athlete themselves.
Brandon’s unprecedented partnership with the New York Yankees, announced in 2004, provided a way to offer fans authentic Yankees memorabilia and one-of-a-kind fantasy experiences at Yankee Stadium.
Since then, Steiner Sports has developed similar partnerships with Notre Dame Football, Syracuse Athletics, and Madison Square Garden, bringing fans closer to the games, as well as to the athletes themselves. These avenues include meet-and-greets, speaking appearances, signed memorabilia (including game-used jerseys and equipment) and countless other products and services.
In 2008, Brandon created yet another unique market by purchasing the exclusive rights to major portions of the soon-to-be disassembled “Old” Yankee Stadium so that Steiner Sports could develop an entire, authentic Stadium product line that would provide fans with once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to take home seats, signs, bricks (from Monument Park) and hundreds of other unique pieces which gave the old stadium its storied history.
How did he get here? The road was a long one, but full of passion and hard work.
As a poor kid in Brooklyn, Brandon Steiner lived for the summer days when he could scrounge together enough change to make the subway trip to Yankee Stadium, buy the cheapest ticket available and bask in the aura of his favorite baseball team for a few hours. Little could Brandon have known then that one day his name would be linked with the team in an exclusive memorabilia partnership and that he’d own some very valuable pieces from that very stadium.
Brandon started out in food service and hospitality in Baltimore, managing a hospital cafeteria and high-end hotel restaurants. Returning to his native New York, he managed the Hard Rock Café in the late 80s, when it was one of the most popular restaurants in the city. During his time at the Hard Rock Café and later at the Sporting Club, Brandon met many of the athletes he would later represent. At the Sporting Club, New York City’s first full-service sports bar, Brandon made his foray into sports marketing – hiring athletes as “guest bartenders” for charity events, and as “guests of honor” for “Fight Night” broadcasts of big-time boxing matches.
He’s also spent a good deal of time giving back to his community.
Brandon was instrumental in helping to create the David B. Falk College of Sport & Human Dynamics at his alma mater, Syracuse University, and is officially designated a Founding Member and Board Chairman. He also sits on the Board of Directors for Syracuse Athletics and, through his business speaking events, supports a Syracuse University scholarship at the Falk College.
Brandon devotes significant time to – and enthusiastically supports – several noteworthy charities. He has a special place in his heart for Family Services of Westchester, a not-for-profit organization that helps provide quality social and mental health services to its clients. With Brandon’s help, Family Services of Westchester has been able to open two group homes for teenage boys and girls who have no place to call home.
Brandon is also a Board Member of White Plains Hospital in White Plains, NY.
Brandon resides in Scarsdale, NY with his wife Mara and their two children. He bleeds Syracuse Orange. And, of great joy to him, are the weekly basketball games he hosts at his home for his employees and friends.
After 32 years of overseeing Steiner Sports Marketing & Memorabilia, Brandon’s greatest legacies are still The Steiner Agency and CollectibleXchange.
The Steiner Agency brings a unique, one-of-a kind business model together with over 30 years of sponsorship/brand activation and promotion experience, to connect clients with exclusive sports properties. They design and execute unique events on behalf of clients featuring dynamic sports personalities. These strategic marketing events help tap into the emotional platform of sports, resulting in a cohesive alignment between brand and athlete, driving positive brand value and creating memorable guest experiences.
A dynamic marketplace, CollectibleXchange (CX) is a revolution within the collectibles space as it allows individuals to buy, sell and appraise like never before. Likewise, CX will be co-opted by players, coaches, executives, and agents as they can use CX’s robust database to sell their collectibles (signed, game used, etc.) while retaining an overwhelming majority of the revenue generated. Moreover, CX will help design, create, market, warehouse. and ship player branded apparel, food products and cosmetics.
And an added bonus — the inventor of the Everything Bagel is…
Brandon Steiner is generally credited with inventing the highly popular “everything” bagel” at the age of 14 in 1973 when he was a part-time baker at a local Brooklyn bagel shop. He recalls that one night, as he was “screwing around with different combinations of toppings (sesame, salt, poppy, onion and garlic) making braids, onion flats and other unorthodox concoctions” he had a brainstorm to see what happened if he threw all of the toppings on a bagel at once. It became an instant success – and the rest, as they say, is history.