Chase Minnifield learned a lot of lessons while in the NFL, and was that he didn’t want to become another broke ex-athlete when his football career finished. So the retired defensive back for the Washington Redskins became a serial entrepreneur, especially in the tech arena. And now he is using his success to encourage other athletes to think beyond the playing field to life after sport.
And Minnifield, CEO and founder of EZ-Turn, has been successful, so much so that he was recently named a Forbes 30 under 30 honoree.
Minnifield’s first entrepreneurial venture was Helping Hand L.L.C., an apartment service provider. Helping Hands offers moving, cleaning and apartment turnover services for college dormitories and student housing complexes. Minnifield launched it when he was just 25, post NFL. The company has worked for a number of universities including the University of Maryland College Park, University of Pennsylvania and the University of Virginia. It has created 1,000 jobs and generating millions in revenue.
According to the website, EZ Turn is the only vendor management digital platform that allows property managers in the student housing business to improve their management skills, to invoice as well to communicate with contractors. During its initial year, EZ Turn had more than 30 clients and managed over $1 million in invoices.
He also founded the Minnifield Foundation, and non-profit organization focusing on empowering and inspiring underserved youth through arts, academics, and athletics.
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Minnifield, who has an M.A. in Sports Administration from the University of Louisville and a B.S. in Sociology from the University of Virginia, told Moguldom about life after the NFL and his tech dreams.
Moguldom: How did your interest in business and entrepreneurship come about?
Chase Minnifield: My interest in business and entrepreneurship was born out of the desire to provide opportunity for my friends and family in Lexington, KY, who were struggling to find jobs. I was curious as to whether their challenges in getting good paying jobs and advancing in their careers was due to their lack of work ethic or the economic system in general. All in all, my team is extremely hard working and honorable. In short, I wanted to develop a company because I knew I had the platform and resources to provide opportunity for others.
Moguldom: It would seem like a totally different world than football. Is it?
Chase Minnifield: Playing in the NFL and being an entrepreneur are totally different experiences…however, the same principles and self-discipline apply. The skill sets and mindset that enabled me to make it into the NFL are the same that are helping me to be successful in business. Having the ability to show up for yourself is incredibly important to pursuing both being a professional athlete and an entrepreneur.
For example, during my journey to the NFL, I had to put in work when nobody was watching. I had to be able to show up to the gym when nobody told me to show up and I see similarities with entrepreneurship. The fact that as an entrepreneur, you have no one watching you and telling you what to do…and the fact that you have to get up and find a way to advance your company, your dreams and your goals…that’s where the similarities are in being an entrepreneur and an NFL player.
Moguldom: Why the tech industry?
Chase Minnifield: I believe that technology is going to simplify our way of life and solve many challenges facing our society. The way I think about technology is on a micro-level. For example, whenever I see a problem or something that seems like it should be easier than it is, I try to think of how I can solve for it via technology…and I encourage everybody to think that way. It’s all about digitizing our way of life.
I’m a third wave entrepreneur. I’m not a developer and I’ve never been in the tech industry. However, I was an athlete who started his entrepreneurial journey in the service industry and discovered a way to solve for the same problems I witnessed every day via technology.
Moguldom: How did you come to start EZ-Turn?
Chase Minnifield: As the CEO of Helping Hand, LLC, a student housing services vendor for multiple properties around the country, I witnessed the same issues across universities and student housing properties year in and year out…specifically with the inability and efficiency to manage vendors in a fast-paced environment. People were often confused, not on the same page and there was an extreme lack of communication. After years of experiencing these challenges, I decided that I was going to solve these issues via technology and that’s how EZ-Turn was born.
Moguldom: What makes EZ-Turn unique?
Chase Minnifield: EZ-Turn is unique in that it was designed specifically to make the student housing turnover process more efficient by providing real-time communication, data, feedback and vendor management…allowing everyone to operate on the same page at all times.
Moguldom: How do you feel athletes can create a lane in the tech industry that goes beyond investment?
Chase Minnifield: I feel that athletes are seen by society as funders because of the wealth they’ve accumulated throughout their careers. However, I want them to see themselves as business owners and tech innovators…Athletes have the skill sets and wherewithal to create, execute, problem solve and persevere. Athletes are smart and educated enough to not just invest their money into others’ businesses but create their own. When you put funding behind something that you created, you work hard to make sure that is successful and will never fail. However, as an investor, you’re trusting somebody else not to lose your money! Trust yourself, don’t cut yourself short…don’t limit yourself. All in all, my advice to athletes and everyone else is that we are in a time of immense opportunity and accessibility to be successful, so take advantage of that.
Moguldom: Looking back, what were the most important lessons you learned from starting Helping Hand?
Chase Minnifield: The most important lesson I’ve as CEO of Helping Hand, LLC is that you can’t do everything yourself if you want to grow and increase impact. It is incredibly important to educate, train and trust other people. You can’t be hands-on with everything. What’s important is educating people and creating a platform to empower others who can, in turn, inspire someone else.
Moguldom: What are your goals professionally for this year?
Chase Minnifield: This year my goal is to finish my pre-seed raise with EZ turn and get to our Series-A round. I would like to acquire $100,000 in monthly recurring revenue by May 2020. As far as Helping Hand, I would like to add more regional partners who are eager to become entrepreneurs and provide them with the platform to make a soft landing into entrepreneurship.
Moguldom: What’s next?
Chase Minnifield: Besides golfing, I will be going around the country speaking at some conferences and I look forward to meeting everyone at these conferences and just growing. Growing mentally, physically and spiritually…I think life is all about growth and whatever is next I just hope it’s forward!