Tell us your name and a little about yourself.
I’m Brendan Candon, co-founder, and CEO of SidelineSwap. I grew up in Long Beach, NY, a beach town in Long Island and have been obsessed with sports and business for as long as I can remember. I worked with State Farm for a few years before founding SidelineSwap. During this time I volunteered to coach a youth lacrosse team—the topic of equipment costs came up very often which eventually prompted me to have a conversation with co-founder Anthony Piazza, kickstarting the next part of my career.
What exactly does your company do?
SidelineSwap is an online marketplace where athletes buy and sell their gear. We make it easy for anyone to list their sports gear for sale and quickly turn it into cash. Above all, our mission is to help sports families save on new and used gear, making sports more accessible for everyone.
What were the biggest challenges you have faced and how did you overcome them?
When my co-founder, Anthony Piazza, and I started SidelineSwap we didn’t know anyone who had started a tech company, we had no connections to venture capital or engineers to help us build our product. What we had was a vision for how a great marketplace for sports gear would work and the passion to build it, because we knew the impact it would have on sports families once it existed.
To overcome our inexperience and limited network, we “maximized our luck surface area.” We networked like crazy and pitched our idea to anyone who would listen. We kept doing that until we started to get a few lucky breaks, and in time (and by the time I mean years) we built a strong network in the tech community. We’ve hired a great team with lots of experience, we’ve raised close to $10 million from VC’s, and acquired hundreds of thousands of athletes who buy and sell their gear on the platform.
What piece of advice do you wish someone had given you at the start of your career?
Strong mentors are critical, and it’s easier to find them than you think. When we started Sideline I had no choice but to do a lot of cold outreach. I started cold emailing CEOs and executives who had built similar businesses and asked for 30 minutes of their time to get their advice on something they were uniquely suited to help with. Not everyone responded, in fact, most didn’t… but some did. But getting the first meeting is only the beginning. After the meeting, I’d follow up thanking them for something they taught me, and a few weeks or months later I’d follow up again with how that advice helped me grow our business. I’d add them to an email list of mentors, and continue to keep them updated today. That allowed them to share in our success, created opportunities for me to build on those relationships, and encouraged them to introduce me to more people who could help.
Who are your biggest influences and people you admire and why?
My dad’s my number one mentor, in business and in life. He’s a State Farm Agent in Franklin Square, NY. I spent the first five years after college working for him, where I learned how to run a small business and how to manage people. None of what I’ve done is possible without his guidance and support.
From afar, I really admire Brian Chesky and the way he has approached building AirBnB. Their massive vision and steadfast belief in the strength of a community is something we try to emulate at SidelineSwap. And I strongly agree with his belief in serving all stakeholders.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are? *
There’s too much credit to go around because it truly takes a village. My family has been incredibly supportive, my friends have let me sleep on their couches, opened doors to their networks, and invested in the company, and so many others have offered valuable advice, support, and connections.
What do you see as your greatest success in life?
I’m really proud of the entrepreneurs we’ve been able to support while building SidelineSwap. We have hundreds of people building businesses on the platform, and some are even earning six-figures and supporting their families full-time by selling on SidelineSwap which is pretty incredible.
How can people contact you?