MARK BLUNDELL – CEO, 2MB Sports Management
September 7, 2010
For more than three decades Mark Blundell has honed his expertise in the upper echelons of elite global sport, firstly as an athlete, then TV pundit and in more recent years, a successful talent manager. Mark started his sporting career at just 14, and for nearly twenty years he competed at the very top of world motorsport, including Formula One, IndyCar and World Rally. His wins even include the prestigious Le Mans 24-hour Endurance Race. From 2001 through to 2008, Mark was integral to ITV as part of the 3-time BAFTA award-winning team, providing F1 analysis alongside Jim Rosenthal and Steve Rider. In 2005, he and his close friend, Martin Brundle, founded 2mb Sports Management. A boutique talent management company, 2mb is committed to identifying and developing young sports talent and to helping established sports stars define and manage their brands. In January 2009, Mark took sole ownership of 2mb Sports Management and is now committed full-time to using his experience, knowledge and connections to provide personalised commercial services and management support.
How did the idea of 2MB Sports Management first come about in 2005 and was it something you had been planning for a while?
I’m probably to blame for the original idea to be honest; it was an idea dreamt out of Martin Brundle and myself being on the board of the BRDC [British Racing Drivers’ Club] and seeing some funding going into young drivers without management and enhancement funds to enrich their career. So from that we felt there was a little bit of a niche in the market to try and look after these guys lock stock and barrel and try to take away some of the pitfalls and speed up the pathway into racing. With the experience between us, we probably combine over 45 years from all walks of motorsport on both sides of the Atlantic, so it was a little bit of a pipedream to start with and then I kind of got my head around it and then I pushed Martin into it. He was already involved in independent management with David Coulthard, and that’s really how it developed. Hence the name 2MB, because it’s the two of us.
What advantages, if any, do you think your name has in creating business opportunites for your company?
I’m not sure whether there’s an advantage in the name. Obviously it’s a name that’s associated with motor sport and has got some credentials because of our experience and the fact we’ve been on both sides of the fence and all the way to the top of the driving side, and the media side. There’s not really too much that we haven’t been involved in in some fashion and I’d like to think that everywhere I’ve been, and I think the same would apply to Martin, there’s always been an open door policy to walk back in there and carry on a conversation. We’ve tried not to shut any doors and open as many as possible along the way in our careers.
How has the company changed in recent years, particularly since you took sole ownership last year?
The reason why Martin stepped away was purely driven off the back of time because he’s focused on a new BBC contract. Also, his son Alex is competing and trying to work his way up the ladder, so he’s trying to put more time and focus on his career on an individual basis. Martin’s still a part of us, the name still remains there because we’re the founders and we remain very very good friends. We talk on a regular basis and at some point it may be a situation where he returns in some capacity. With him stepping aside I felt that I wanted to look into some other areas, because motor sport is a very narrow field with a very narrow opportunity for prospects coming through the different formulas, because ultimately, the majority are all trying to get to the same area, which is Formula One. We felt that we should look at what was out there in sport and football had been in the back of my mind for some time. We felt that there was an opening for someone with a small boutique style, very hands on, very transparent, clean cut and maybe from a different angle. We also felt that we could do something for the players like we do with the motorsport drivers. It very much is a turnkey service where they can take as much or little as they want, but somebody, for example, like Gary Paffett is 100 per cent focused on his motorsport, there isn’t any other side of things for him to worry about because we take care of it, from signing a check to booking holidays or whatever the case may be. All the boxes get ticked.
With regards to the football side of 2MB, did you know Jimmy Carter beforehand and had you earmarked him for the chief operating officer role?
Yes, I’ve known Jimmy for several years beforehand. I knew of his pedigree and his marketing experience to go with that, so from that some conversations were drawn up where he felt there was a niche in the market and he has since got his agent‘s license. Jimmy’s role invovles very much a hands on liason with the players and building up the rapport with the clubs and all the individuals involved with those clubs, from academy level all the way to the top. Between the two of us, and with the added value of a young lad called Josh Aspess as our Football Development Director, I really think there’s a good understanding of football there. Definitely Jimmy and Josh have the depth and understanding of football compared to me. That’s not really where I need to be. I am more on the conceptual and commerce side of things, and driving the company forward.
Apart from Jermain Defoe, the other players you represent are young and upcoming. Was that a conscious decision and is it something you plan to continue?
Yeah, its something we looked at on the motorsport side too. We get the guys young and try to mould them and try to get the best out of them and get them in a situation where they feel comfortable, that’s really what it’s all about. At the minute it’s a weekly situation where we’re signing up new players. We’ve got some great prospects and great talent on board. Mauro Vilhete who’s at Barnett, Joe Carter at Charlton Athletic and Miles Smith at Wycombe. So lots of 16 to 18 year old guys with massive potential that want to take the next step. We hope that we can make them better football players, not only on the pitch but off the pitch: make them more well-rounded people. For example, we do a half-day media session with our guys, give them an understanding of what its like to be interviewed and how to come across in the interviews, and when a couple of questions that might be a little bit sticky, how they’re going to get out of it, or how to act in front of the camera, body language. All those kinds of things so it starts to come naturally instead of being a bit of a fright.