Los Angeles Business Journal

Twenty in Their 20s: Kai Sato and Brenton Sullivan

By Funmi Akinyode Monday, May 13, 2013

KAI SATO, 28

BRENTON SULLIVAN, 28

FieldLevel, a social network connecting sports coaches to potential recruits, Santa Monica

EMPLOYEES: Nine

FINANCIALS: Total revenue less than $2 million.

Brenton Sullivan knows from personal experience just how frustrating the college sports recruitment process can be. As a high school baseball player, Sullivan felt he had the skills to play in college but barely received any attention from recruiters.

While a student at USC, Sullivan was eventually able to join the baseball team as a walk-on (unrecruited) player, becoming a catcher and earning an athletic scholarship in the process.

Hoping to ease the process for other hopeful recruits, Sullivan linked up with fellow USC student Kai Sato and they co-founded FieldLevel, a social networking tool linking college coaches to athletes.

“We took a closer look at the market and realized that the world of sports recruiting and scouting was riddled with problems that social networking and software applications could solve,” said Sato.

They got started with angel investment and believe that the key to the venture is staying committed to their original vision for the company.

“When you lose sight of that, you find yourself wandering off course,” Sullivan said. “Our company has learned that lesson and we structure our innovation accordingly.”

He hasn’t found his youth has handicapped him in his business dealings.

“The world has changed and especially in the technology sector, the most fascinating work is often coming from younger entrepreneurs,” he said.

They both plan on launching other companies.

“I plan on starting, running, acquiring and investing in companies for the rest of my life,” said Sato.

As for his life now, he’s always on duty.

“Startups simply cannot afford to be unproductive,” he said. “Virtually every hour you’re awake, you’re doing something to help your company.”

In the rare moments he’s off duty, he works out, meditates, grab drinks with friends or cooks dinner with wine.

“When I’m very lucky,” Sato said, “I get to play golf.”

Even though he was a USC baseball player, Sullivan uses basketball therapy to unwind.

“I sometimes find myself shooting hoops at 11 p.m.,” he said. “The basketball court is my place of solitude and, more importantly, a place that I can reflect on my life without any distractions.”

– Funmi Akinyode