Building a women’s professional soccer club in L.A.
BELIEVING IN ANGELS. Julie Uhrman is a member of a team of angels – athletes, celebrities, actresses, and philanthropists – who share the goal of bringing a new professional women’s soccer team to Los Angeles in 2022. As President of Angel City Football Club, she co-founded the club with actress and activist Natalie Portman, technology venture capitalist Kara Nortman, and tech entrepreneur and Reddit co-founder capitalist Alexis Ohanian. Together with a talented team of investors and staff they are building a revolutionary, women-centric soccer club and sports platform.
“Over 90% of sports teams lose money and are traditionally owned by wealthy, white men or families. If we are going to build Angel City differently, led by women, and run like a startup, it’s important we achieve a different outcome. Doing something differently and having the same results does not impact change. However, doing something differently and achieving better results forges a new path for the future. Everyday Angel City leads with purpose and passion to drive to profitability,” Uhrman said.
This required thinking beyond the concept of a traditional soccer club and designing a sports platform that openly engaged women athletes as investors and owners. Uhrman elaborates, “We currently have 60 incredible owners – mostly women – who are celebrities, executives, and athletes. Fourteen of them are former US Women’s National Team athletes, including Abby Wambach, Julie Foudy, and Mia Hamm, in addition to Billie Jean King and Serena Williams, the list goes on. Keep in mind that 50% of all sports fans are women–and not just one kind of woman,but from all backgrounds and ethnicities, races, and experiences. That needed to be reflected in our team, work, and outreach to the community.”
REFLECTING ON REAL COMMUNITIES WITH REAL POSSIBILITIES. Julie knows the risk associated with starting a new venture and is grateful for every win the Angel City team experiences. She will quickly tell you that most of her success is luck, timing, and a little bit of skill, with skill being the smallest percentage of that equation. As an entrepreneur, Uhrman has spent a lot of time in the world of gaming: in community engagement, brand development, and platform design.
“Before Angel City, I was the founder and CEO of OUYA, which brought the Android operating system to television by providing an open gaming platform. I had to build a game console, controller, storefront, and development ecosystem to do so. To be successful, I needed to engage our audience and gamers in the process. Gamers are as passionate as sports fans or athletes about their teams and sports, and I carry this understanding with me to Angel City.”
“Angel City couldn’t just be a football club bringing a team to market. We had to think about all the ways we could engage our community and fans, to develop a deep and meaningful connection. This led us to build a membership program from the beginning and design a robust product experience that would include web, mobile, and SMS. We also believe in supporting and promoting our future players, developing content, and storytelling around who they are on and off the field.”
Uhrman is proud of the team, the business model, and most of all, proud of what Angel City represents. “The benefit of bringing in all these different types of owners isn’t just to leverage their platforms and tell our stories, but to demonstrate what happens when women work together to change the course of culture.