Dec 15th Looseleaf Cannon: Junior Combine – the NFL Combine for Youth

Shaan Puri believes this week’s product idea could be a $10M business. I think his estimate is way too conservative. Keep reading to see why!

Each week I help founders & marketers spark their creativity by sharing a new product idea & how I’d launch it.


A few things from me:

First, welcome to 12 new subscribers who joined this week!

Second, Ship 30 for 30 ends today. You can find all 30 essays I wrote here – spanning product, creating, & marketing. Here are my all-time favorites:

Finally, this week’s top Internet find:

100 Days of Rejection (HIGHLY RECOMMEND)

  • For 100 days, Jia Jiang practices getting rejected. Crazily, he gets to teach a college class when someone actually says “yes”.
  • The world will tell you you’re not qualified, but that’s often false. Getting better at asking & selling is one of the most powerful skills you can learn.


Now on to this week’s product idea: Junior Combine – the NFL combine for youth sports.

Shaan Puri, host of the My First Mil podcast, originally shared this idea on Twitter & more I thought about it, the more it seemed to make sense.

Now before you tell me that youth sports are already too competitive, hear me out:

Here’s the value proposition:

  • The NFL Combine lets NFL hopefuls officially show off their skills in an athletic “SAT test”, like how much they can bench press, & their vertical leap. In the chaotic world of youth sports, with hundreds of conferences & leagues across the country, a trusted benchmark like Junior Combine is even more needed. For unrecruited athletes, it could be their only chance to get noticed by a D-I school.

How I’d launch:

  • I’d validate Junior Combine first by running traffic to a simple landing page. Set a price of $50 & see how many people are willing to pre-register. Not only will this tell you whether the idea is worth pursuing, but it will help you determine the right price & how much traffic you’d need to drive a certain number of sign-ups.
  • I’d launch in a preferably large city that’s more suburban, where kids are more likely to play sports. Dallas strikes me as a great option. Promote the combine through local middle & high schools. Give talks & write articles related to youth sports. The best way to get someone to promote you is to do something for them (teach them something for free in a talk or in an article). Promote in Facebook groups of parents in the area. Set up a referral system & give kids free tickets if they sign up 3 friends. You could easily get hundreds of attendees without any ad spend.
  • The first event would be the hardest, & you’d have to figure out legal, medical, & athletic requirements. How many trainers & doctors would you need on site? What equipment & facilities are necessary? On the one hand, you want to validate the idea as inexpensively as possible, but you also want to put on an exciting, fun, & safe event that builds a brand people want to come back to.

How I’d scale:

  • There are at least 40 cities in the U.S. with a population of over 400,000, all large enough for their own annual Junior Combine. By focusing on general fitness (pull-ups, vertical jump, push-ups, 40-yard-dash, etc.) Junior Combine could attract athletes from a variety of sports, but could eventually add sport-specific drills like throwing, 3-point shooting, & kicking.
  • A key component of Junior Combine would be certifying athletes’ statistics & hosting them publicly online. The technical scope wouldn’t be particularly complex, but investing in a clean, & intuitive interface would help build Junior Combine’s industry-leading reputation. As it becomes the industry standard used by coaches & scouts, its value would grow exponentially. Imagine kids who train toward attending the Junior Combine each year, hoping to smash their records from the previous year.

Why it would work:

  • Youth sports is massive. 60 million kids ages 6-18 play sports. If you assume that 10% of kids ages 12-18 attend Junior Combine, that’s 3 million kids a year, or $150 million. Even by Shaan Puri’s more conservative market sizing, the opportunity is massive.
  • Tickets are one revenue stream, but sponsorships are another, from Nike or Gatorade, or even college athletics recruiting sites, particularly interested in getting in front of upcoming top recruits.
  • The more attendees, the more valuable Junior Combine becomes. Just as an official 40-yard-dash means more than an unofficial try, the Junior Combine 40-yard could become the mark of peak performance that sparks FOMO in young athletes. Once it unlocks network effects, Junior Combine would be hard to stop.

Why it might not work:

  • Junior Combine is not a simple software product that can run by itself, and the operational challenges don’t disappear as you scale. The bigger you are, the more facilities you need to book, & the more likely an accident is to occur. Much of Junior Combine’s success will rest on a stellar operations team that thrives at the intersection of large groups, event-planning, & athletics.
  • Does Junior Combine have enough of a sell to potential attendees? Is it product differentiated enough from the hundreds of standardized fitness tests offered at gyms & schools?

Question for you: What massive market can you get exposure to, where even a sliver of market share means significant revenue?

That’s all for this issue!



P.S. As always, respond with the biggest challenge you’re facing & I’ll try to help how I can!