Last week, we introduced you to three-time Olympic gold medallist and beach superstar Kerri Walsh Jennings’ new tour and online venture Platform1440 or p1440 for short.
Walsh Jennings shared her passion and dreams for the mind, body and soul centric project, the driving forces behind it and the nuts and bolts of the operation, which aims to get the world to make the best of all 1440 minutes of each day.
In part three of our conversation with p1440’s proud founder, alongside husband Casey, Walsh Jennings shares more about the current and future partnerships of the platform, the financials and how she hopes to improve upon the current state of beach volleyball.
“I think truly the foundation of everything that I choose to be involved with is love: love for the sport, love for what the sport provides to me as a human being trying to grow into myself and learn and work through challenges and therefore accrue wisdom, love for the lifestyle that my sport gives me and for the love family that I have and the relationships that I have,” Walsh Jennings. “So, everything that I choose to do, is fueled by love. I am really not afraid of the obstacles in my path because I know that there is great wisdom once those are overcome. I am pretty fortified for whatever comes my way.”
Fortified to blaze a new trail of something beyond just a tournament, something that is life changing in many ways, not just for the participants, but also for those who follow the movement online and onsite.
“We want to lower the barriers to entry, because sometimes you can look at crossfit or yoga or whatever it is and they can be really intimidating because you feel like you have to be at this certain starting point,” Walsh Jennings said. “I don’t believe in that and no one on our team believes in that. We believe in movement and learning through experience. That is why we are creating our events series, where you can come and learn and be a part of it. Because if you are a part of it and you learn it and you do it, there is real wisdom there. You learn so much through experiencing things and not only reading.”
Although there will be plenty to read as well from Walsh Jennings and the many experts who will offer insight on the platform1440 website and online community. Through its four pillars of competition, development, health and wellness and entertainment, p1440 aims to provided everything needed to live an optimal life and to remain playful and engaged in all facets of life.
It is that playfulness that keeps Walsh Jennings going personally as well.
“We do a lot of things as a family and that just inherently makes it more fun,” the mother of three said. “When I am doing an exercise and I am super serious and focused and I look at my boy who is having so much fun being goofy but doing it his way, that is powerful to me. Even just watching my kids compete, they remind me that the point of all of it just to have fun. I do believe you can go for gold in whatever you are going for and be super serious, but also find a lot of joy in the work. In the stressful, competitive moments, there is so much greatness there and great joy there and real-life experience there. You miss it if you are only dead set on the serious part of it, but if you bring an element of play to it, you are more creative, a little bit less bound down and more free.”
When you create your own pro beach tournament coupled with a wellness seminar and concert series, there is a lot of freedom to try new things whether that is through content availability, sponsorship deals or analytics, which are just a few of the things on the table for p1440.
Making beach volleyball accessible to the masses is among Walsh Jennings’ big pushes. P1440 will be able to live stream all of its events through its own platform, but is also working on finding an exclusive linear TV partner and setting up possibilities with various digital platforms such as twitter, Facebook or YouTube.
“We want to be where people are watching and the digital experience is very, very important,” Walsh Jennings said. “We are also going to gamify our sport and bring in a ton of analytics. We are working with Intel to up the level of everything that we are doing on our broadcasts, on our platform and with how people engage with the sport. There is so much nuance to our game, so much depth and so much awesomeness that people largely don’t know because we don’t aggregate the data. We are really going to highlight the nuances and the specialness of our sport.
“Ultimately our sport is so rad because it is so accessible and relatable. Everyone has touched a volleyball and everyone has walked on the beach, so people can get a sense of what we do. We want to give them more access to it. Access is coming across the board, not just for the athletes with more opportunities to compete, but for our fans and members as well.”
Helping fund the operation and fill out the health and wellness lineup will be key partners, but just like in her game, Walsh Jennings and her crew are being incredible strategic.
“We definitely will have our brand partnerships, but with our brand partnerships we are looking for alignment across the board,” Walsh Jennings explains. “We want a very clear and precise message. We want to align in value and principle with our partners, so we are very selective about who we partner with. We are attacking this from all angles. It is all very heart led. The business of what we are doing is real. We need to make this sustainable, but all of the components needed to be successful in this venture are already there. We just need to execute on that and that will come with the right partners and that will come over time. So, all of those coming together, we are going to increase the financials and make this sustainable.”
Sustainability is not just Walsh Jennings’ goal for the event series and online platform, but for the sport, one where she sees many opportunities for improvement, having long said that she hopes to make beach volleyball a viable career instead of a hobby.
“We certainly have aspirations to service the athletes in a major way because the athletes work so hard on a daily basis to fund their hobby of professional beach volleyball,” Walsh Jennings shared. “People are not making money in this sport and we want to change that. We are going to support the athletes in various ways.
“We are going to build stars. I have said it before and I will say it a million more times: we need more faces in the game. There are so many compelling stories and so many stars in the game that the world has no idea about and we need to change that. I mean I am very happy and proud and honored to be one of the faces of this sport, but we need more. That will help the athletes build their brands, which will build the brand of the sport. The Olympics are so successful because the storytelling is so compelling and so real, so that is a huge focus for us. We not only want to tell the stories and the why’s of the athletes and coaches and experts, but also our brands who have these big bold initiatives that they want to service the world with and service their communities with.”
Walsh Jennings believes the newly formed international players union also is another step in the right direction for players and the sport.
“We need people to stand for high standards and we need to stop compromising on our sport,” she said. “I feel like athletes always take the brunt of the hit, whether it is lower prize money or change in format or whatever it is. The athletes have strong opinions that are out of wisdom and not just out of emotion and we are never heard. So, I appreciate the platform and the unity the players union is going to bring to our sport and I am so proud of those players for stepping up and leading.
“I am going to support the athletes standing for what is right and what is great for the sport and for themselves and I think that the players union is a great step in the right direction. I believe that if there is athlete unity and athlete leadership that is only going to enhance the FIVB and other entities and certainly us at p1440. I know it is going to elevate everybody.”
In addition to supporting the existing facets of the sport, Walsh Jennings aims to build it from the ground level with grassroots groups and regional volleyball efforts as well as with outreach programs at the site of each tour stop. The first step toward that growth came last week as p1440 signed a partnership deal with the California Beach Volleyball Association, the largest amateur beach volleyball association in the United States.
“The CBVA is a cherished and time-honored institution in the sport of beach volleyball,” Walsh Jennings said in the announcement. “I, like so many professionals, played on the CBVA as I started my journey in the sand. The CBVA has successfully dedicated themselves to serving our beloved sport and their members for the past 56 years. I am honored to partner with the CBVA and look forward to furthering their mission to ‘nurture, sponsor and promote’ beach volleyball, while unifying and elevating the game. Together, we will help create and develop more opportunities for the current and future generations of beach volleyball players.”
The CBVA partnership will include live streaming of CBVA tournaments and finals online, while also helping grow the game in the youth and juniors ranks.
Another part of Walsh Jennings’ vision is to develop beach volleyball as another sport option for youth, who may not have seen it before.
“Volleyball is a compelling sport for both boys, girls, men and women and I love that; it is one of the best things about it,” Walsh Jennings said. “We just need to give more opportunities and more access to the sport. In every community we go into, we are going to have community outreach. We want to go into the urban areas and underserved communities and introduce them to our great sport. It is not just to get them to show up on site (at our events), but it is be like, ‘look, there is a path here.’ Sports are so magical for so many reasons and not just for the competition aspect of it, but for the character building, the community and the relationships that you get. So, the thought of going to communities who have no idea what beach volleyball is… if we can’t plant some seeds in their minds and they can go to the path and start playing club and looking at college as a viable option and getting and scholarship, getting their education paid for, that is a beautiful thing.”
Next week, Walsh Jennings will share more of thoughts on the state of the game and its development in the college ranks as part of VolleybMob’s My Journey to the Beach series.