Full Contact CEO Season 4
Julie Uhrman has done it all. She started a video game company, was an exec at Playboy, and now she’s a Co-Founder & President of the most high-profile NWSL team in the league – Angel City FC. The investor group consists of Natalie Portman, Jennifer Garner, Serena Williams, a handful of World Cup-winning soccer stars, and many more. Julie shares how the team is dominating on and off the pitch and how equality takes center stage.
Who is Julie Uhrman
Julie is a born and raised Angelino. Aside from going to college in St Louis, Julie has built her life and career in Los Angeles. She says her tenacity, grit, and love for competition started at a young age playing basketball at the YMCA with her sister among a group of 80 boys.
Basketball took her to Washington University in St Louis where she also studied business. Needless to say, it didn’t take her long to apply what she was learning in college to building two businesses as a student-athlete.
Julie learned right away how difficult and time-consuming it was to do laundry. She bought a laundry business and ran it right through college. She also created a storage company where students could store their items in between semesters. The laundry business is still there!
Initially out of college Julie wanted to be an investment banker and she spent a few years working in the industry, but it wasn’t long until the entrepreneurial bug hit her again.
Starting a Video Game Company
Julie founded and created the video game console Ouya in 2012 in an attempt to rival Xbox and Playstation and essentially disrupt the billion-dollar gaming industry.
At this time mobile and tablet games were on the rise with the consistent new iterations of smartphones. Think Clash of Clans and Farmville. Julie noticed this and realized she could build a game console on the Android operating system. She had an incredibly successful Kickstarter campaign with over 8 million in funding. But ultimately the gaming system struggled to make an impact in an industry that is dominated by 4 major companies and consoles. What really stood out though was Julie’s determination to change an industry very much stuck in its ways and try to bring independent video game makers and engineers into the spotlight.
Angel City FC
Most of Julie’s career is in entertainment, gaming, and content. What she calls “bringing joy into people’s lives.”
“And as you build your skillset and as you expand your network and your capabilities, it’s bringing people closer to understand what you’re good at and also what you’re passionate about. With Angel City, I have two co-founders, Natalie Portman, the actress and activist, and Kara Nortman, who’s a venture capitalist here in LA”
It was Kara and Natalie who had the idea for the Angel City but they needed an entrepreneur and builder of things to help put the team together both on the pitch and in the backroom.
What was wild is that Julie had no idea that NSWL existed even though the US women’s team had just won the 2019 World Cup. It was perfect timing because Julie had just left Playboy where she had helped transform a bit of a “boy’s club” company into a more inclusive brand.
As Julie explained when Angel City started to become a reality, “Our ultimate goal was to drive equity. Initially, it’s pay equity, but that also means, you know, sponsorship, equity viewership, equity attendance, mindshare.”
The second major goal was to tell a story. “So we wanted Angel City to be bigger than the game from day one.” The vision was to have Angel City become a major global brand that is recognized worldwide that tells a story, represents something good, and drives revenue.
Julie studied massive brands and teams including the likes of Barcelona who are arguably one of the most famous soccer clubs in the world. ”I wanted to be the platform of Manchester City Football Group, the global brand of Barcelona, and add the mission impact of Angel City a hundred percent. And that’s how we’ve been building Angel City.”
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