Do you want to learn and play a new ball game? Terri Levine introduces the co-creator of the world’s first four-way volleyball game, Chris Meade. Chris is the Co-Founder and Chief Revenue Officer of CROSSNET and today, he takes us through the new sport’s ins and outs. He explains how he and his buddies created the game and proves that building something we are passionate about can bring us the freedom we deserve. Learn how Chris gets people to understand Crossnet and its mechanics and how he markets their amazing new product.
Listen to the podcast here:
Crossnet: World’s First Four-Way Volleyball Game With Chris Meade
We’re going to do something a little bit different. If you’ve been a reader, you know we have lots of people that are amazing. They give you great business advice, sales advice, marketing advice, and yet one of the things I believe is important for business owners is also to have a way to have some emotional release, some physical release, and to have some fun. What’s the purpose of making money if we’re not having fun? I’ve invited someone special. His name is Chris Meade. He’s the Co-Founder and Chief Revenue Officer of CROSSNET. If you haven’t heard of CROSSNET, you’ve got to check this out and we’re going to talk about this. It’s the world’s first four-way volleyball game. The way that they started the company, the way the company has come to be is something that I think you’re going to get a lot of value from both on the business side, as well as something you might want to participate in. Chris, welcome.
Thank you for having me. I’m excited to be on.
I am excited to have you. Let’s talk about this. How do you wake up and create a new sport? It’s not every day that a new sport is created. How did this come to be?
We got super lucky, but we’re happy that it happened. I was working a full-time job, a 9 to 5 at Uber headquarters in New York City. It was a good job. I was happy. My buddy had graduated Northeastern. He came home for the breakthroughs one day in May. He called my brother up. They were childhood best friends. They were in the same grade, played soccer, football, all that together. He’s like, “Greg, I want to invent something. I don’t want to get a job. I’m not ready to do the job thing yet. Let’s invent something.” I was home and the three of us sat on the couch all night coming up with ideas. One idea went from 100 to 500. We had a big list. We checked one-off at a time and four-way volleyball was the last from there.
What would you say to someone who’s thinking, “I don’t want to be working at a corporate job?” Where should they start? This is brilliant. I’ve never heard anyone who’s done this.
The first is collaborating with peers. It’s the best way to get ideas. You don’t need a lot of money to become an entrepreneur, but becoming a successful entrepreneur who can stay self-employed is where you weed out the good from the bad, but you got to get started. We started the company with less than $10,000 across the three of us. You could make something happen for yourself with not a lot of money. Save up for a few months. If you have a business idea, go for it. You can always get that job and go back. You’ll have that resume. I think the fear of waking up regretting and being like, “I didn’t do it,” is a lot worse than doing that job every day.
If you have an idea or a thought, I always say to people to give it a try. Make sure you have some financial backing and if you have to go back to a job, you have to go back and still make the short-term. I think this is cool. As you guys grew up, were you into sports? Were you triathletes?
We were very much so. We grew up in a small farm town in Connecticut. We were outdoors all the time, basketball, football, soccer, wrestling, everything you’d think of, anything to go outside we were about it.
That’s an important point for me also. Take something that’s part of your life, something you love. For me, I don’t know why I have a knack of growing businesses. I love to grow businesses. Business, I’m good at it. Is this consulting? They fit together. I like what Chris is saying here. If you’re interested in something, if you have a passion for something, it makes it easier. You said something else that’s important. Entrepreneurs often are working in this isolated box and they’re by themselves. Instead, now you have people to work with and collaborate with that you enjoy.
It makes a big difference. Even there are still times where I’m a little bit siloed. Our team is all remote. Having those peers to talk to and bump through ideas and even you don’t need to talk to them, sometimes it’s nice to have them there to communicate and feel you’re not alone. It is a lonely road. When you’re building something amazing and that you’re passionate about, it doesn’t feel you’re working. We’re up early and I’m doing it because I love it. It’s a good feeling.You don't need a lot of money to become an entrepreneur. You could make something happen for yourself with not a lot of money. Click To Tweet
Take something you’re passionate about. Don’t work in isolation. The other thing that you touched on and I go back to is capitalization. The biggest reason that small businesses go under is they’re under-capitalized. You don’t have to start with all the capital. You guys started with $10,000. That’s nothing. You started something and you said, “Let’s do this.” There is a little bit of a risk factor.
We didn’t leave our jobs right away, but we did use the majority of the money that we had in our bank account at the time. We were smart about it. We listened all the time about entrepreneurs investing in crazy marketing. Agencies are doing things that they don’t need to be doing until they get to that point. If you have $10,000, you got to be frugal about every single thing you’re doing. Otherwise, that could be the end of your company before you know it. We only took money to get the inventory, do a little bit of marketing and get some nice photos, get a little video. We sold and then we doubled up our inventory.
You started because here’s the world doing their activities. Nobody’s heard of CROSSNET. You first get people to hear of CROSSNET.
We built a prototype from China that had been manufactured. We tried to source to in the United States, which was not going to be a feasible thing. We got our prototype after a few months. We brought it to Narragansett, Rhode Island which is our hometown beach. We’re from the north. People would go crazy over it. They saw a four-way volleyball net. They’d walk up to us and there’d be 30 people in line trying to play. It was wild. We’re like, “If we have this reaction here, imagine if there are 100 nets across the world. Imagine the reaction at 100 beaches. What if 1,000?” It spiraled.
That’s a concept of letting people see a demo, get it in action and get it out there. What’s your marketing now that you’ve got people understanding what CROSSNET is?
We’re being smart about the type of marketing we’re doing across the demographic. We’re making videos that are geared towards moms, Millennials, the younger generation, then running advertisements on those on Facebook, Instagram and Google. We’re not wasting any money on a kid on a video that’s supposed to be to the 60-year-olds. We’re split demoing it and let’s use our money much smarter.
You’ve got to explain to people what CROSSNET is. I was on the website and watched some videos. I get it. Let’s see if you can explain it so that people can visualize this.
CROSSNET is the world’s first four-way volleyball game. We have a four-way volleyball net and you have four players that go inside each of the squares. It’s a mixture of foursquare, which is a childhood game, plus volleyball together. You score points by serving the ball across from the foursquare to the two squares. From there, it’s a free for all. Everybody’s playing with the ball, trying to spike it, trying to return it into another opponent square. If the person who serves stays alive, they get the point. Game to eleven, win by two.
It sounds something that someone who certainly is young can play. It’s certainly somebody older can also play because it’s like around a tennis court.
My mom and my grandparents love it. It’s a great time. It’s doesn’t require too much physical activity. You can make it as active as you’d like. We’ve had professional volleyball players go crazy on it. It’s amazing to watch recreational players who want to tap, have some fun and do something different at the beach, which is nice.
Where can our readers go to watch, see, learn more and maybe even say get involved in CROSSNET? That’s a great sport for me.
Go to CrossnetGame.com and there’ll be tons of videos, information about the product. Check out our email list. We’ll send you tons of cool information about the company.
You’ve got to see the videos. When I first read it, I’m trying to visualize it and I’m like, “Let me try and think about these quadrants, volleyball.” I saw the video and I was like, “This would be much fun. I want to play.” I think it’s awesome. A lot of our readers are small business owners. Some of our readers want to get into business and we’ve got some corporate executives. Tell me from your vantage point why physical movement and exercise might be something, especially playing instead of, “I’ve got to get on a treadmill,” might be something that would be helpful for them.
I think getting to play CROSSNET a lot to promote the sport, even if it wasn’t my own company, just being without your cell phone for 10, 20 minutes, it’s the best part of my day. If I go swim in the pool, it’s freeing being away from your phone and the technology. We are so constantly enabled with these phones in our hands. For a 27-year-old, I can only imagine it for people who are always on their phones. It’s terrible. Having the physical activity, getting your blood flowing a little bit, it’s great. It’s a good time to connect with friends. That’s why I love CROSSNET, especially in schools. Kids are going to gym classes now and it’s the best thing about their gym classes the day that they play CROSSNET, which is wild.
This is relevant. I’m delighted that you talked about cell phones. I love that you said you’re young. It’s important. All of us need to do some unplugging. We all do. Whether you take a walk or you sit and talk with a friend or having a glass of water without a phone, what better way than exercising your body and your mind, freeing yourself from your phone and your business? You’re doing something that you can have fun and you can be with other people. Because as an entrepreneur, you’re all by yourself. You’re tied to the technology and you’re not giving yourself a chance to play. What I found is when I’m doing something that has nothing to do with my business, I’m engaged with friends and my mind is occupied, I ended up being more creative in my business. Has something like that ever happen for you?
A good example was I was reading. It wasn’t an activity. It was physically reading a fiction book and I thought one day I was like, “We could cut our profits in these five areas and help our margins.” I went back to the computer when I got back to my house two hours later and I was like, “Even paying for this subscription for $300 a month, we could delete that.” It’s little things like that when you take some time away from the company, your brain is always working on the company in the back of your mind, even when you don’t even realize it. Getting out there has certainly helped me improve my business in ways I’d never even thought if I didn’t step away from it.
I think that’s super important that we all as entrepreneurs let our creativity happen. I find sometimes moving my body, I’m more creative. I find when I’m talking, listening, even playing whether it’s CROSSNET or Scrabble, or engaged with other people, we sometimes play silly card games. I have friends that have silly card games and we play these card games. The next day, I have all these creative ideas in business, yet I wasn’t working on my business at that time. Other than CROSSNET, what else do you do to step away from things?
About three times a week I’ll do yoga. I love yoga. It’s a good way of 60, 80 minutes of being away from technology, freeing myself and relaxing. I do have a habit of waking up. I go to the gym every day, 5 to 6 days a week, and I love playing basketball all the time. Trying to get active at least 1, 1.5 hours a day, getting away from everything and taking time for myself, helps me to focus and have that regimen that allows me to be successful.
Regardless of age, size of the company, where you’re at as the business owner, I think we all need to do that. We all need to step away. We all need to do something that’s good for our mind, something that’s great for our bodies, even having a regimen. I have various certain things I do in the morning. The first thing I do is I do things for myself. I set my intentions for the day. I do a little bit of meditation, some transformational breathing. I don’t do what a lot of people do, which is to let me go right to the computer and email or social media. That’s not the part. Let me ask you that. Being a younger person, how much time do you spend on social media?
It’s probably more than I should, but probably about 1.5 hours a day, which is more than I would like. I’ve also taken some habits, taking email off of my phone, so that way I’m only working when I’m on the computer. It was tough at first, but I got to the gym and I realized I was spending 0.5 hours on email at the gym. I’m like, “What am I doing? I’m here to work out on myself. Why am I checking emails? They don’t need to be checked right now.” I’m trying to remove things like that, taking notifications off of Facebook and Instagram. I don’t need to know when somebody liked my photo. I’ll get the notification when I go on next. It’s making small tweaks that have helped my phone life.It doesn't feel you're working when you're building something amazing and that you're passionate about. Click To Tweet
I never thought about taking an email off my phone and as soon as you said that, I wrote myself a note and said, “Email.” I’m going to take an email off my phone. As soon as you said it, I felt free. You’re out with friends, you’re out and about and all of a sudden, you’re not participating. That’s brilliant. It’s the same for me with Facebook, Instagram and all of that. No notifications. You said, 1.5 hours. That’s not the worst time that I’ve heard. It’s not the best. It’s in the middle. I strongly recommend that people start noticing how much time you are there. Because we know our birth dates, we don’t know our checkout dates and you want to make sure that you’re living in the moment, you’re getting the most from life. Social media is important for all of our businesses. It’s important as a way to communicate, yet you don’t need to know. I love what you said. I don’t need to know that somebody liked my photo or whatever. It’s not the most relevant thing. Noticing your business priorities are great. What’s the plan? Where do you guys want to take CROSSNET? What’s next?
We released our indoor model. Essentially, we’re outside of normal households. We’re in about 3,000 schools right now. Kids are coming every day looking forward to playing CROSSNET. We’re changing how volleyball is played in America. People are learning how to play volleyball in the classrooms on our nets rather than a long normal traditional net, which is a wild feeling. We dropped the indoor model. Teachers are now going to be able to go from playing outside to indoors. We were in Canada. We’re in a lot of colder places, so indoor play is mandatory. We have an indoor version coming out. It’s a preorder. That’s exciting. We’re partnering with tons of music festivals. We’re looking at increased revenues to about $5 million in our second year. It’s a lot of cool things. We’re partnering with a lot of big retail stores, some big-name national distribution. Look out for us everywhere.
I love young companies. I love fast-growth companies. There’s a special place for young people who say, “I’m not going to go to the traditional job. I want to do something entrepreneurial.” I enjoy the whole story of how you all sat down and you’re like, “No,” then here’s CROSSNET. How are you getting into distributors? People ask me all the time like, “I want to partner with this or that.” Can you give us any clues or hints?
LinkedIn is amazing. Building up your LinkedIn and making it look you’re bigger than you are and filling out all the little checkboxes on LinkedIn can make you look like you’re a seasoned professional with only a few years of job experience. I do a lot of outreach on LinkedIn to buyers. I’ll segment Dick’s Sporting Goods buyers, Scheels buyers. I’ll private message each of them. I’ll upgrade my LinkedIn account. The biggest thing, and you’ll hear it a lot in sales, is following up. I keep spreadsheets. Have I contacted this person 5, 6, 7 times? It might be annoying, but it’s the difference between maybe coming and going in Dick’s Sporting Goods or not. It’s important. Following up is key on LinkedIn, messaging people over and over again. Not being annoying, but providing them value like, “This is an awesome video of CROSSNET. It’s a four-way volleyball net. You’ve never seen this before and you’re a buyer at a sporting goods company. You’re doing yourself a disservice by not checking it out. Here’s a 30-second video.” Reaching out there, emailing. LinkedIn is honestly a saving grace for our company. I’ve done everything on LinkedIn.
The two things that come from me there, number one, I think people don’t use LinkedIn enough. I think somehow the world has relied a lot on Facebook and Instagram. While that’s one aspect of a market, LinkedIn is different. You can find the exact people that you want to target on LinkedIn without ads. Upgrade your account. I do the same thing, Chris. I reach out to my exact audience and then I give value. You’re giving them something super cool. I love watching these videos. It’s something that they have not seen before. Let’s remind people where they can see some videos of CROSSNET.
If you never heard of CROSSNET like I haven’t, you have to see this. When I read it, I remember thinking, “I got a visual of what I think it is.” When I watched it, I’m like, “No, I didn’t get it.” I instantly am like, “I want to play too.” I think that you’ve created something that’s viral in that way and using LinkedIn in a brilliant way, which is let’s get in touch with our exact target audience. Let’s let them see something of value. As Chris said, I don’t message somebody once and go, “That’s it.” I’m still working on getting that person’s attention. We’ve got to make sure that we’re getting their attention with something of value. We don’t all have CROSSNET, which would be great if we did. Something interesting that we can offer.
One more thing I was thinking of is connecting with people that are your target demo. Over time, that network builds up. I’ve been connecting with volleyball teachers on LinkedIn. From a job perspective, they might not be helpful for me getting my next job, but they are my target demo. When I post about CROSSNET, now I have 3,000 volleyball teachers that are getting free access says to my ads and they’re free. I’m posting a video about CROSSNET, but they’re going to see it because they’re in my network. I don’t pay for their attention. It’s free organic traffic. Building up that network over time, it is super valuable.
Do you do a lot of getting people’s attention through the video they can watch?
I can only tell somebody so much about a four-way volleyball net, but the video kills it. We always sell-through videos or photos.
One of the things that I noticed, and I want to share with our readers, is you can sense Chris’s passion. To me, it’s obvious like, “You guys have to check out CROSSNET. How do you not know about this?” It’s cool. I get it. When we find something to take to market that we’re excited about and energized about, it’s so easy to spread the word about something you believe in. What other advice do you have? Give us some advice and tips. If someone perhaps is struggling or challenged or frustrated in business, what would you say?
Get started and do the math. Math never lies. I have friends coming to me like, “I want to start this product.” I’m like, “It’s going to take you 100,000 units to make what you’re making at your current job right now.” The math doesn’t check out. Get started. It doesn’t take a lot. Don’t fall for these marketing companies that are looking for tens of thousands of dollars. If you can’t afford it, don’t do it. You don’t need to be the next Pepsi to be yourself and make little progress over time. I remember the first few months of business. We were lucky if we sold one CROSSNET. Now, if we’re not selling one per hour, I’m disappointed. Things take time and be patient with it. It’s a long life that we’re living and it’s going to take some time for your company to become successful. As long as you see constant progress, even if it’s little progress, keep going.
What if there’s a setback, then how do you mentally get yourself to keep going?
That’s the toughest part. That weeds out the entrepreneurs you hear all the time. I wish I kept going or always two months away and I’d didn’t even know it. Keep going. If you can’t, you can’t. It took us a year to find some proof of concept and that people are willing to take out their credit card and pay for it. Now they are in droves. We got over that hump. We got enough money in the bank to make the content we wanted and now we’re reaping the rewards every day.
Take that advice. Do keep going. Too many people, when there’s a bump, a challenge and they go, “It’s not for me. It’s not working. Nobody wants this concept.” When you’ve got especially a new concept like CROSSNET, you’ve got to give it some time. You’ve got to get people to see it. You’ve got to get them involved. I love that you’re like, “I’m going to set this up on the beach where I let people do it.” That gets viral and people have fun with it and enjoy themselves. There are some risks in being an entrepreneur and at the same time, the rewards are great. If you kept working for Uber or anyone else, how do you think your life would be different?
I got back from a two-week vacation in Wyoming, snowboarding with my friends. That wouldn’t have happened. Having freedom is worth more than having the money in my account. We’re making a lot of money too, which is awesome. At the same time, having that freedom to do what you want when you want, whenever you want and not having to go to somebody asking them for the day off or making some excuse like, “My grandma’s sick.” You can do whatever you want. It’s a feeling that money can’t buy. It’s the best feeling in the world.
I worked at a corporate for a long time. I’ve also owned my businesses for a long time. What you said resonates with me. I called it being a wage slave. It’s somebody who told you you’re going to make this much and if you do a good job, in our opinion, you can get this much more. These are the days you’re going to work and the times you’re going to work. This is when you get off. My whole life was being controlled and one day I said, “I don’t know why I’m working for someone. It doesn’t make sense to me because life is too short. I want to enjoy it. I want to have freedom. There are many things I wanted to do.” I wanted to go on vacation. I wanted to travel the world. I wanted to enjoy my life. Now I do what I love, I’m of service, and at the same time, I have the word that you’ve said that I love, freedom. It’s all about freedom. Tell people where to find Chris Meade of CROSSNET.
I have enjoyed this tremendously. I’m glad that I found out about CROSSNET. I’m glad that we’ve had this conversation. I admire what you guys are doing. Even more so, I want the readers to go check it out because it’s much fun. Once you see it, I think you’re going to feel like me. Regardless of your age, your shape, your size, you’re going to go, “I want to go play this. It’s fun.” You’ve given a lot of value, Chris. I want to thank you for being here.
Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.
It’s been a delight. Readers, a couple of quick things for you. We put an educational webinar together. It’s our gift to you and you can watch it at TLWebinar.com. That’s a gift for you. If you’re not yet part of our #Heartrepreneurs with Terri Levine Facebook group, we’re going to invite you to join us there. There are lots of free tips, tools, and resources. I’m going to ask Chris to join us there too because I think it would be fun to see what things Chris posts of value. I think we can find some amazing things to do and to open our minds up. I hope you’ve enjoyed this. Chris, thanks for being here.
- @CROSSNETGame – Instagram
- LinkedIn – Chris Meade
- #Heartrepreneurs with Terri Levine – Facebook group
About Chris Meade
Chris is responsible for all things sales-related and has helped the company generate 2.25 million dollars in 2019, their first full year on the market. Outside of building and optimizing the CROSSNET website and leading the e-mail marketing department, he has developed relationships with renowned retailers such as DICKS, Target, Walmart, and SCHEELS.
Chris received his Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Film, Video and Interactive Media from Quinnipiac University in 2014. Much of his photography and video work can be found throughout the CROSSNET website and social media pages. When not building one of the fastest-growing sporting good companies, he is an avid gym-goer who also enjoys yoga, basketball, and snowboarding.
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