Most basketball teams would be content having won three World Championships and numerous trips to the finals round, but apparently not the Philadelphia 76ers. By thinking outside of the box (or court if, you will), Sixers ownership and management decided to commit their time and resources not only to create a top-notch basketball team, but also to “give back” to the community by sponsoring up and coming businesses in a state-of-the-art Innovation Lab.
The 8,000 square foot Sixers Innovation Lab, located on the Camden Waterfront, serves as a giant petri dish for entrepreneurs in search of mentoring and funding sources to help grow their businesses. The Innovation Lab fiercely wants its candidates to succeed and offers a myriad of opportunities where business folks can incubate and grow to their fullest potential by offering them housing and food, office space, marketing strategy, and access to the guidance and experience of the Managing Director and Board of Governors of the Philadelphia 76ers—all for free for the lucky candidates selected for the program.
It all begins with a single idea—a lone seed that grows into a mighty forest. That’s a good thing, but unfortunately, not every idea can be accepted at the Lab. Candidates must submit a detailed application and interview. Once the application is reviewed by Innovation Lab staff, a vigorous vetting process occurs. Selected companies are then notified, and a flexible and customized program based on the young company’s needs is established.
Since housing and office space are generously provided by the Lab, the start-ups don’t need to worry about mundane issues, so they can concentrate solely on developing their business and learning from experts at the Lab including local advisors from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, StubHub, Rothman Institute, and more.
If you assume that the Sixers Lab primarily focuses on helping businesses that center around sports, you may be out of bounds! The driving force behind the Lab is to cultivate folks in their business pursuits—sports related or not. If we look at some of the recent “graduates” from the Lab, diverse and creative come to mind. The selected businesses range from U GIT GUD, a training platform for professional and amateur E-sports players to Doc & Phoebe’s no-bowl feeding system for cats. Yes, you read that correctly—cats.
Another company shepherded to success by the Sixers Innovation Lab is Live Life Nice—a cause-driven digital media company and clothing line with a simple mission: to inspire people to “Be Nice, Do Nice.” By posting compelling video content, Live Life Nice provides a positive forum that its creator, Christian Crosby, hopes will become infectious on a global scale—and he ought to know since he is the embodiment of enthusiasm and positive energy.
Crosby started with the 76ers as a member of the dunking while trampoline bouncing act in 2006 called the Hare Raisers (AKA Flight Squad). He quickly “fell in love with the organization” and worked his way up to captain of the team. Although he enjoyed entertaining, he wanted to further his career and currently works as the Live Events Manager for the 76ers.
So, let’s chat with Crosby and learn more about his unique company, Live Life Nice, as well as how he has become the consummate poster-child for the Sixers Innovation Lab.
Christian Crosby: Before the Sixers Innovation Lab, I had been working tirelessly on developing Live Life Nice. I always knew that I wanted to be an entrepreneur and I had balanced working on my own company and working for the 76ers for a few years. When the 76ers announced their partnership with the Innovation Lab, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to really grow and develop my business by learning from the best, while also continuing my relationship with the 76ers organization. I am forever grateful for everything the Innovation Lab has taught me both personally and professionally. It’s amazing to see that a sports franchise can be a part of something bigger than just sports.
CC: For me, it wasn’t just one “Aha” moment—I grew up watching my parents give selflessly to our family, their community, and just about everyone around them. Their dedication to doing good for others inspired me to continue that mindset of simply being nice and doing nice. In today’s society, there is so much focus on the negativity of the world and I never understood why the negative always received the most attention and sometimes even the most praise—I wanted to change that. I just felt as if there needed to be more focus and attention paid to those who live their lives by being nice and doing nice things for those around me.
CC: Of course! I wouldn’t be able to promote Live Life Nice if I didn’t practice what I preach. Posting videos of people doing nice things on social media and giving back to different communities isn’t something I do just because it’s a part of my business—it’s a part of what I believe and who I am as a person. I truly believe that I was meant to empower, motivate, and inspire people to be nice and do nice—and that starts with me living my life through those exact values. As I mentioned before, my parents completely embodied that mentality and ever since I was a kid, I’ve only become more and more inspired to do the same.
CC: My personal page has close to 50K followers and Live Life Nice is quickly approaching 10K. Some of my videos have reached millions of views and impressions. The most important thing that I’ve learned about having a solid social media presence is consistency and having a solid understanding of who is following you. When it comes to Live Life Nice, it’s important to see what our followers like and dislike so that we can adjust our social media accordingly so that they continue to engage and encourage others to do the same. I’ve also learned that it’s okay to have people who do not agree or like you or what you do! Not everyone is going to like what you’re doing and that is completely okay—use that as motivation.
CC: Professionally, we are looking to partner with a national retailer on the apparel end of Live Life Nice. We are also looking to partner with a major media conglomerate on the content side. Ultimately, it is our goal to try and inspire a million acts of nice—and honestly, I feel like this falls into both the personal and professional category.
On a more personal level, I just want to continue to be a sponge and LEARN. Learn more about business, history, myself, and really just continue to try and spread as much “Nice” as I possibly can. And on the entertainment side, I’d love to produce and star in upcoming digital and television shows.
CC: I love this question! First off, I believe that everyone deserves to have food on their table, clothes on their back, and the opportunity to receive an education. So, if I had a “nice-powered” magic wand, I would immediately make sure that everyone has those things in their life.
I also would make everyone walk a mile in each other’s shoes—from race to religion to gender—I think if we all truly understood one another, it would solve a lot of problems we have in our world.