By now, you know Matt and Mo as two of our favorite sponsored-riders. We have written about their exploits recently here and here. What you might not know about Matt and Mo is that together, under the banner of MM Racing, they are two of the savviest riders/racers in the game.
Matt explains, “MM Racing is really about being our own title sponsor, our own sports marketing company. In 2008, when we teamed up with Seven Cycles and secured product sponsorship for bikes and clothing, we still found ourselves without a title sponsor. At that time, we realized that we were actually our own financial “sponsors” and created our own team name using our first initials. For the next two years, MM Racing served as a place holder or “Your Name Here” for potential title sponsors. In 2010, Bob’s Red Mill filled that spot for us. We remain our own team managers and organizers, now using the moniker MM Racing as more of our sports marketing vehicle via social media, website and e-newsletters.”
“As privateers, we do all of our own marketing,” he explains. “I think a lot of athletes at the elite level just want to focus on training and racing, and we get that, but if you’re not packaging and marketing what you do, it can be hard for sponsors to justify supporting an athlete. Historically, we pay attention to marketing trends and changing the way we approach potential sponsors year-to-year based on current trends and things like laying out ROI for our sponsors. We understand that sponsorship works on two levels. On the one hand, and most importantly, you have a relationship as people. You essentially become teammates with your sponsors, and then at the same time, it’s a professional business relationship, and both aspects have to work for the sponsorship to be successful.”
Mo says, “We have never approached companies for sponsorship we don’t personally appreciate in some way and believe in. The real benefit to our approach is that we get to develop genuine relationships that are part teammate, part professional business. Some athletes may be comfortable with anonymous sums of money from a sponsor, but that’s not what we’re about. We want to be part of a team and show off our teammates. Our approach is akin to our lifestyle. We don’t need a lot, we’re not interested in getting lots of “stuff” for free, we want to be connected to what our sponsors do and who they are on a personal level.”
Both Matt and Mo worked in pro-cycling, Mo as a soigneur and Matt as a mechanic, before getting together, so they both knew what it took to run a tight ship, but all the work of running the team can be a big stress point in their relationship.
Mo says, “We both put so much time, energy and effort into all aspects of our team and our races that when it doesn’t go well for one of us, it doesn’t go well for both of us.”
MM Racing divides their season in interesting ways, too. August through February is Mo time, with cyclocross and mountain bike races dominating their days. March through September is Matt’s time to reel off randonneuring events and other long, meditative struggles against time and distance.
They are in a unique position of being life partners, teammates and running a sports marketing company together. During Mo’s cyclocross season and Matt’s summer Ultra Endurance season, their tasks read like a list of resume qualifications. Matt’s job includes Team Mechanic + Manager, Logistics Coordinator, Social Media/Newsletter/Website Designer + Curator, ultra endurance cyclist. Mo’s jobs include Sponsorship and Marketing liaison, Social Media + Newsletter Content Writer, Soigneur, cyclocross racer.
Mo says, “We work very differently at most tasks and our approach to training and racing but I think our strengths and weaknesses are complimentary. I admittedly can’t multitask very well and that is Matt’s specialty. Matt can juggle five balls and pick up three more without ever dropping one while remaining objective, linear and analytical. It’s essential to managing the mayhem that can come his way during a muddy cyclocross race or unplanned bumps in our travel plans.I can get a little wishy washy in the emotions of things and can do that fake juggling with only two balls. When it comes to my cyclocross racing, I often need time to process the emotions of the day (both good and bad) before I can objectively talk about or analyze a race. Matt can stay the course and compartmentalize tasks and emotions when needed to always be 100% on the job. However, when I am a soigneur my emotional empathy or intuition can end up being the difference between checking things off a list to make sure riders have what they need or just knowing that the thing that might boost their spirits at mile 120 in a 50º downpour is a surprise egg and cheese sandwich.”
Matt adds, “When it comes down to it, we’re really lucky we get to do all of this together.”