When I was hired as content creator intern for :betr this past May, I really didn’t know what the company was all about. I knew that I loved to write and I loved sports, and :betr contacted me to do a variation of this — which I could not be more grateful for. Other than the fact that I knew it would be a website and app, I truly only knew 3 things when describing the company to others. First, I knew it was supposed to cater to the Generation Z community — kids my age who are in college and just entering the real world. Second, I knew that it focused on mental health and physical well being — specifically with collegiate and professional athletes. Thirdly, I knew it was going to be a medium that empowered and ultimately made your day (no pun intended) better. It was not until I began work in our office at 100 Summer Street in downtown Boston that I discovered what :betr is trying to do.
I began to write short listicles pieces — lessons you can learn from various athletes, how to make your days more productive, ways to make your life better and more enjoyable, etc. Meanwhile, I also began to develop feature pieces on student athletes — “Hour Out” (which focuses on an athlete’s mental journey 60 minutes out from competition) and “What’s Your Why” (where athletes explain their core purpose to continue pursuing their passions). I slowly dove into these ideas and was honored to pick the brains of some of the nation’s best athletes. Yet, I found myself still wondering, what is :betr’s purpose? How are we different than other media companies? And how can I make content that will empower not only the Generation Z community, but everyone that comes in contact with my work? It was not until I had the opportunity to sit down and speak with :betr’s CEO, Tom Arrix, that I fully got to uncover how :betr is trying to revolutionize the media world.
A little nervous, I began asking the former Facebook Vice President of Global Marketing and present CEO of :betr how he first envisioned the company and where he wanted it to go.
“Primarily, I saw it on a couple fronts. One, it was student athlete focused. I played sports through college. I had kids in the sweet spot of what we were all trying to do, and ultimately, had a really unique opportunity being a dad of four kids, where I had front row seats to all the craziness of their lives. And when I thought about it, I just loved the idea of being a purposed based company — that we could touch the high schoolers, college students, and post graduates. So I hope there’s a day that it can naturally extends out — and it becomes a place that lots of people, multi-generations, will have this connection between themselves and content, that if we could just make someone’s life a little bit better everyday because of a nugget they read or see, then that’s a great thing… I believe that technology has been an incredible part of your generation’s lives and has driven so much good — I believe we can be an incredibly valuable piece of peoples’ lives.”
“How do we become an important part of someone’s lives? Really just because we’re being natural.”
I expanded the conversation by relating it to myself and the content I was creating. Obviously most of my work had to do with sports and student athletes; however, I wondered how my sports content would relate to members of my generation who aren’t hooked by sports.
“It’s a hard one. I think like anything you have to start with simplicity. The model isn’t necessarily within, say, the student athlete world, or in the sports world or… or any other world. I think it’s just bringing relevance and I think having a balance where people don’t come out of the experience saying, ‘Well, that’s for someone who loves sports.’ I think it’s really important for us to be patient enough as we build to get it right, to listen about ways to create stories and the meaning of those stories with people regardless of what they do… To say even though Daniel is a swimmer or plays in a band or is a great chemistry student — it’s ultimately how do we connect with you and get to know you… we understand what your story is, but what are the roots underneath that make you who you are? How can those roots and those lessons help other people? And I think that’s what people who come back to our website or our app are trying to figure out.”
“Barstool drives entertainment through humor, Snapchat does it in its own special way, and Instagram does it in its own special way. I think we have the opportunity to actually pave our own way and look at a lot of different ways that we could delight, entertain, connect, inspire, and motivate people.”
“We are trying to create our own brand. Although sports were a major part of our identity and continue to be, the content we produce must transcend sports. It must hit a chord in our readers that will allow them to consider the story in regards to their lives and the challenges they have faced in all facets of life.”
Curious, I asked Tom what he hopes the business will look like in 5 years and who our content will serve if all goes to plan…
“It’s hard to see where we are in five years. But if all goes to plan, we will see :betr as a part of millions of peoples’ lives. We will see it not just in the United States, but in other countries, too. If we can expand our audience to places like Canada or parts of Europe, or wherever it might be, and do things in multiple languages, that would be phenomenal. But ultimately, how do we stitch together and knit together a community, a global community, that is moving forward and connected on things that are really important in our lives?”
What Tom and we here at :betr are trying to create is not just a company or a brand — but an attitude. For individuals that are just trying to find their way in life, like myself, I find Tom’s vision to be exciting and, in a way, comforting. We are forging a community of shared experiences and struggles — where we can share and, more importantly, help one another. Tom began to expand on how this is true, and how he learned to do so in the past…
“Just to give you full context — I got to Facebook in 2006, and when Mark Zuckerberg talked about the early days of the company, he was very focused on building community. It was all about creating community. His whole vision and mission remains true today. He wants to connect the world and make the world more open and connected. Back in the day, that was done in a thing called a company. It could’ve been a charitable organization. It could have been anything. But how do you bring really smart people together — where you’ve got a lot of like values that drive the culture of the company. How do drive the mission?”
“But ultimately, I think, if we do it right, we’ll probably lop off Generation Z because it’ll be obvious that that’s where we’re driving development wellness and we’ll hopefully extend to the older side. So in five years when that 25-year-old is now 30 and maybe has a young family, maybe is living in a different part of the world, he or she still has that relationship with us and we can keep making their lives better because of the things we’re bringing to them.”
As our interview came to a close, I felt honored to have been given this information and opportunity to fully understand what the company is seeking to accomplish. With a driven CEO and sturdy mission in place, I was interested to see what Tom would say to the average Generation Z social media user — and why they should begin to engage, and continue to engage, with our brand rather as opposed to the thousands of others around the world…
“I believe that we’re going to create a product that will make an individual’s day, or parts of their day, more enjoyable. We might make them laugh. We might be the bright spot of their day. We might help them work through something that they’re struggling with. I think we can be an incredible leader within your generation. And a leader with an environment that’s got an edge to it, that’s got coolness to it, that’s got super relevance, that’s designing content in short snippets that an 18 or 16 or 25-year-old are used to. I don’t think anyone is really doing it.”
“And our goal is to be the first company that does it… that does it everyday and that does it with a lens that is the center of the bullseye to what your generation would expect. We’ll mess stuff up. We’ll screw stuff up. We’ll fall down — but we’ll pick ourselves back up and we’ll reiterate the product and we’re going to make sure that we keep driving our vision everyday. And again, no one else is doing it.”
“I think there’s a gap that exists not just for your generation, but for our society. And I believe that we’re going to start filling that gap. Someday, I believe we will be the dominant filler of that gap.”
:Betr is more than just a positive media outlet — it is an attitude and a community rooted in sharing and supporting one another. As a college student, I can say that without a doubt there were times in my recent past that I needed a space to find comfort, or a story to give me perspective. I am so honored to be a factor and content producer that can give kids like myself that space to seek out — whether they are struggling, or just need a smile. :Betr transcends sport, music, and pop culture. And although we expand on these industries, the purpose of our work is to use these dimensions of our world so you at home can uncover a deeper truth. Everyday, we strive to make you think, laugh, smile — and ultimately make your day :betr. In our world today, I think that is something we all desperately need.