Attacking the bookends: A transparent vision
In his series “Attacking the bookends,” venture capitalist TK Kuegler brings that mindset to the racing industry, turning an analytical eye on what the industry can — and should — do to grow its business.
by T. K. Kuegler
Entering a new business arena is both exhilarating and troubling for most people. Working through the levels of apprehension as you struggle to understand the language of a new endeavor is usually an exercise in and of its own. Then there are the new decisions about processes and procedures that require a deeper understanding than needed previously as an employee or bystander in an industry.
In becoming a horse racing owner, you have all of those complications. Getting new owners into the tent is vital for the racing industry. Making things as transparent as possible is essential to acquiring new, long-term owners involved in the sport.
Here are some ideas for making transparency for new owners a mantra for the racing industry:
Run more educational sessions for new owners that are tactical in nature.
There are a lot of great groups around the country that do sessions for new or prospective owners. I have been to a few of these sessions, and many of them are extremely well run. What I would advocate is even more of them but with tactical approaches. Have events that are specific about exactly what new owners should be aware of and what things they should do to be successful. Run more educational sessions around the approaches to running a racing or breeding stable as a business. The more hands-on education we can give new owners, the more new owners who will stick with the game.
Ask trainers and syndicates to clearly publicize expenses and markups.
I understand that the U.S.A. is a free country, and private businesses (e.g. trainers or syndicates) can operate their businesses anyway they want and charge any way they want. But could there be a way where folks are educated about how transparency of costs can actually help the entire industry?
Put the estimated profitability levels of a horse in the past performances.
Radical idea warning coming your way! What if we added an estimated profitability level of a horse to the past performances. I already know that this could be a hard one, but I think it might be quite interesting to people about how profitable a horse is or isn’t for its owners. Taking estimates on total expenses and net purses may be a transparent way to demonstrate how certain tracks/circuits are more expensive to operate at. In addition, I think this could be an interesting betting angle as well.
Create a platform where syndicates, trainers, and vets can get anonymous reviews from past owners.
If you want to hire a contractor, you can go on Angie’s List and find out the ratings and reviews of the plumbers or construction folks in your area. If we had a nationwide review board where owners could publish anonymous reviews of their experiences with syndicates, trainers, and vets, we could give new owners a sense of reassurance as they make their first investments in the business.
I know all of these ideas are radical for the racing industry, but all of them are common in other industries. Some of them may not work in the horse racing business, but I think all of them are worth exploring as springboards for new ideas that will make the business more inviting and transparent to new owners
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