University of Southern California

A Good Fight Needs An Exit Strategy
Marshall MBA’s Speaker Series Delivers a Punch!
October 5, 2011 • by News at Marshall

The ongoing series, Cases in New Venture Management, an entrepreneurial course for Marshall’s graduate students, is underway.

Steven Mednick, Assistant Professor of Clinical Entrepreneurship at the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, introduced Ken Pavia, founder of MMA Agents, a Southern California sports agency.

"This is a captivating story about starting a business in an industry segment where there are no established rules, players and ways of doing business," remarked Mednick.

A law school graduate and sports agent for over eighteen years, Pavia focused his energy on "mixed martial arts," culminating in the founding of his company MMA Agents in 2005. Mixed martial arts is a full contact combat sport that allows the use of both striking and grappling techniques from the world of boxing, wrestling, jiu-jitsu and more. MMA Agents, an industry leader, represents over 50 world-class professional mixed martial arts fighters who compete in top tier promotions such as the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) and Pride Fighting Championships (Pride FC).

Pavia inspired the MBA students as he shared the story of his journey into the world of mixed martial arts. He discussed multiple stages of his venture including the issues, challenges and opportunities on the topic of "Growing a Business in a New Industry Segment."

Handing the floor over to Razor Rob (fighter and client) and Alexei Zhernakov (director of affiliate programs in Russia), the students were entertained by action packed videos of fighting which added energy and vivid color to "The Pav's" story.

Pavia underscored the importance of "creating a solid business plan" and emphasized that "there is no substitution for doing the hard work." Having been blessed with breaks in the industry, he explained, "My definition of luck is when preparation and opportunity come together." At the conclusion of the class, Pavia announced that MMA Agents had just been sold.

It was later revealed that Paradigm Sports Management, LLC acquired the company for an undisclosed amount. Pavia, the spirit behind the company’s success, remains as a consultant.

Success runs in the family. His brother Torin Pavia, who was also in attendance, developed his business plan for Arbitech, LLC, when he was in the MBA program at Marshall, earning him recognition as “Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year” from the Lloyd Greif Center. Arbitech achieved the title of "Fastest Growing Private Company in America" by Entrepreneur Magazine.

Other notables slated to speak at the Cases in New Venture Management course are: Tom Markel, founder and CEO of Virtrue Capital Corporation (iBank), Sherry Gunther, Emmy Award Winner and founder and CEO of Masher Media Inc. and Lloyd Greif, founder of Greif & Co. and benefactor for the eponymous Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at the University of Southern California.

About the USC Marshall School of Business
Consistently ranked among the nation's premier schools, USC Marshall is internationally recognized for its emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation, social responsibility and path-breaking research. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, one of the world's leading business centers and the U.S. gateway to the Pacific Rim, Marshall offers its 5,700-plus undergraduate and graduate students a unique world view and impressive global experiential opportunities. With an alumni community spanning 123 countries, USC Marshall students join a worldwide community of thought leaders who are redefining the way business works.