The Blue Star of Disruption
Jerry Mooty doesn’t have time to stand still.
In the last three years, he hasn’t done much—he’s sold his law practice; started a first-of-its-kind payments company in partnership with the Dallas Cowboys; created a service to help nonprofits and charity organizations; and guided his company through a merger to create a company focused on bringing the branding savvy of the Cowboys to the youth sports industry. What have you done in the last three years? Jabian was able to catch up with the chief operating officer of Blue Star Sports to hear about his new venture, talk about the future of mobile payments, and learn why a fragmented industry can be a gold mine.
How did Blue Star Sports get its start?
I was a practicing attorney for more than 15 years, and while I enjoyed it, I wanted to do something different. I sold my stake in the firm in 2012 and through some conversations with business leaders here in Dallas, decided that the payments industry was ripe for a disruption. I worked with the Jerry Jones family and the Dallas Cowboys to establish what was then called Blue Star Payments, which operated as an ISO in the payments industry.
What was different about Blue Star than other ISOs?
When we started Blue Star, no one had ever partnered with a professional sports team before to offer a suite of services and amenities to its customers. The payments space can be somewhat black and white, just very transactional, without a lot of differentiation. We looked at what the Cowboys did in football from a branding perspective and said, “Why can’t we do this in payments?” So we created a sponsorship arrangement with the Cowboys to offer our customers distinct benefits linked to the team and the experience they couldn’t get elsewhere. On top of our quality processing services, it’s a package deal unlike anything any other company was offering.
How has it grown?
Two years ago, when it was in its infancy, we focused on your normal B2C merchants—pizza shops, retails outlets, bakeries, etc. We brought on a sales team and it just took off. Lots of folks wanted to be associated with the team and be a part of what Blue Star stood for. As we progressed, we saw the value in extending that reach to nonprofits and charity organizations. These are organizations that both had no connection to the Cowboys, and no ability to run digital giving campaigns. We knew if we could bring them into the family, so to speak, they would benefit greatly from both the association with the team and the ability to more easily raise funds. So in partnership with iGiveHere, we started BLUESTARgives, a free platform for nonprofits to increase donations through branded mobile applications, online donations, and cloud-based giving management. And we give them the platform for free. No other company in our space was doing that.
Every day we’re getting closer and closer to a cashless society.
What has that led to?
It has been amazing growth for BLUESTARgives, and we couldn’t be more excited to see that. It’s also led us to additional opportunities for growth—specifically, the youth sports market. We were approached last year by a newly formed software company, SPay, that’s focused on youth sports and building out a full software platform to handle payments and registration, as well as a full menu of management options for leagues, associations, teams, referees—all the way down to the individual athlete. The youth sports business is very large and very fragmented, not unlike what we’re used to seeing in payments.
The CEO of SPay (and now CEO of Blue Star Sports), Rob Wechsler, is an expert in the industry, having been CEO of Chase Payment Technology and running ISOs for WorldPay, and has a vision to clean up the fragmentation. Once the synergies of each company were discussed between the ownership groups, it made perfect sense to merge the two companies. It’s a very exciting time to have so many moving parts all working in the right direction. Our new company will be called Blue Star Sports.
Why youth sports?
It really makes sense to look at what industries are fragmented, because those are the industries where you can make some traction. In addition, any new venture should be within a core competency of your company. Obviously, with our Cowboys connection, sports is a logical choice, and the youth sports market, both here in Dallas and nationally, is incredibly fragmented. We have an opportunity to create some leverage with our brand and offer benefits to our customers, while bringing them the mobile and online payment options and standards they need.
Are mobile payments the way of the future?
I think they have to be. Every day we’re getting closer and closer to a cashless society. The ubiquity and convenience of mobile payments, whether that’s through your phone, an app, the Internet, etc., will overtake the expense and hassle of cash transactions. There are so many applications where mobile payments make sense, and we’re just scratching the surface. We can help bring credibility and visibility to those opportunities through our brand, and then help fulfill the payment processing. It’s a win-win.
What’s been the most rewarding part of your job?
I love helping people, and I believe our new focus and entry into youth sports will bring more attention to the communities we serve. Based on my experience, I believe change is a good thing, and being a part of an innovative company makes being an entrepreneur much more fulfilling. Blue Star Sports, with our nonprofit initiative, BLUESTARgives, will be positives in a very competitive market, and I think we are just getting started. It’s a great story of success leading to success.