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    HomeGuest ContributorSponsored PostThe Entrepreneurial Journey: From NFL Athlete to UpField Group Owner

    The Entrepreneurial Journey: From NFL Athlete to UpField Group Owner

    Post By:

    MEGAN SULLIVAN

    ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT INTERN

    UpField group is a holding company composed of two consulting arms, UpField Financial and UpField Strategy, owned by Mark Inkrott and his business partner Chad Ward in Dublin, Ohio. Mark had been a professional athlete in the NFL, and following his time as a football player found himself searching for a similar adrenaline rush once he had joined the corporate world. With that, he decided to embark on his journey and start his own company.

     

    UpField Financial provides transactional advisory services as well as a broad array of finance expertise for commercial lending banks, private equity firms and private investment firms. UpField Strategy provides commercialization and growth strategy services to the agriculture, food & beverage, and sports sector, specifically including passive investments and Cooler Management, which is a company that provides a broad range of cold storage solutions services to retail grocers, consumer packaged goods, and hunger sectors. Mark believes what separates their business is their previous experience in working in a big industry and their mentors that provided them with the knowledge and skill sets that allows them to offer that experience to their customers and ensure they know how valued they are to the company.

    Mark attributes his entrepreneurial mindset to his experience with his professional football career. Starting your own business comes with several roadblocks and failures, and it is important to learn from these mistakes as opposed to letting them stop you when it comes to ownership. During his time in the NFL, he got cut from teams three times while he was at the top of his game, which ultimately prepared him for the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur. 

    “Being an entrepreneur is somewhere between living the greatest lifestyle one could imagine, while at the same time knowing you are inches away of losing everything and having to start over,” Mark says “It can be daunting, and it isn’t for everyone, but for me, it is very rewarding to look back at the past nine years and know I have learned so much more than a traditional career path could have ever taught me.”

    Some of the biggest challenges Mark has experienced as an entrepreneur have come from capital and people. He says more capital makes things easier day to day, and the lack of capital makes things real, and more people can make things easier unless it’s the wrong people. And with business, it is all about people. Customers choose to work with people they can trust, and teams strive to work for a company where they can flourish. As Mark put it, “Being an owner at its core is about being the best version of ourselves, so that we can create a prosperous environment for others.”

    For aspiring entrepreneurs, Mark advises to be brave above all else. Capital and revenue are important to keep the lights on and the dream alive, but early on it is important to add value and lean into your mentors. Businesses of all sizes are able to clearly articulate how they add value to others, and mentors with experience will want to help you, which you should let them. The goal should be to learn from the chaos that is thrown your way in entrepreneurship, and always strive to become 1% better every day.

    Future plans for UpField consist of being great listeners, to their team, customers, and clients. Mark says one thing he has learned over the years is that he does not have all the answers, but that with listening you will find that those around you do. He hopes to establish a team of fit people who will be able to actively be great listeners and take what they hear know what to do with it. And with that, hopes that he can present during the good and bad times and lead as best as he can.

    “My faith and my family are reason enough to keep going. There have been times when work dried up, and I thought for a second about getting a job again, but my commitment to these people and the firm is real. When I was fired from those NFL teams, it ultimately wasn’t up to me who they kept and who they cut. As an entrepreneur, it’s entirely up to me. And I like that.”

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