Kirby Porter is an award-winning entrepreneur with expertise in athletics. Having gained recognition through her roles at Meta, LinkedIn and Sports Business Journal, the New Game Labs founder now empowers women athletes—by providing advice and opportunities during and after their athletic careers. “With suitable investments, women’s sports can have so much value and impact on the business landscape, especially for start-ups and venture capital,” says Porter. “And that’s just the beginning.” We caught up with Porter to discuss her career journey, sports and AI, and the impact of New Game Labs.
Essence GU: What was your first job, and what were the skills you learned there that have guided your career?
Kirby Porter: My first full-time job was in brand marketing for Mountain Dew at PepsiCo. In that role, I learned to identify ways to be an entrepreneur and to advocate for my passion for sports. That eventually led to me being placed on the NBA partnerships team, in my second year at Pepsi.
GU: After working in tech and maneuvering through AI, what are your thoughts on the platform and how it can holistically impact what you do?
Porter: AI is there to serve as a copilot, by enhancing your already existing creative capabilities. As it relates to athletes, you’re seeing a lot of AI being implemented in branding or in physical training. I’m a huge advocate of educating athletes on how to leverage new technology.
GU: You achieved success at Meta, LinkedIn and PepsiCo. What advice would you give anyone interested in landing a job at these companies, especially in light of the end of affirmative action?
Porter: It’s really about finding support. I was in a management leadership program,and it was pivotal for me, because such programs help you understand what you need to know and the people you need to know. So much of it is a networking game.
GU: Through New Game Labs, you’re helping start-ups build in the athletic market. What impact has NGL had as you close in on your second year?
Porter: I’ve been fortunate to partner with a lot of start-ups coming to market, in what I call the athletes’ economy. It’s been a fantastic journey, finding and working with those mission-aligned start-ups and investors that see where the space is going for athletes.
GU: What has been your biggest challenge navigating NGL, and how have you overcome it?
Porter: As a founder, you have to adapt to market changes—but I have learned to avoid getting married to any one idea. I always come back to focusing on the bigger picture of what I’m trying to accomplish: empowering athletes in business.
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