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Recognizing 100 CEOs & C-level Executives

Sean Leary

Founder & CEO

Sports Thread

Location: Denver, CO

Founded: 2019

Industry: Technology

Sean Leary was a highly recruited Colorado high school baseball player, and he received a scholarship to play baseball at Pepperdine University. During his freshman year, Pepperdine committed an NCAA violation, causing dozens of athletes — including Leary — to lose their scholarships. Without the means to pay tuition, Leary had to transfer to Orange Coast Community College, where he met many other athletes that were also fighting to achieve their college sports dreams.

That was the impetus for what would become Leary’s company, Sports Thread, founded to create a better way for athletes to advocate for their own recruiting. Leary continued his baseball career at Oral Roberts University, where he secured his first $1 million in funding to create a social network for athletes and coaches to connect for free — and he changed recruiting.

After finishing his baseball career and graduating from Oral Roberts, Leary moved back to Denver to grow Sports Thread and establish its headquarters. He grew the company, networking his way to meeting several Silicon Valley tech leaders, including Marc Randolph, founder of Netflix, and Dick O’Donnell, former vice president of TIBCO, who would become Sports Thread’s chief marketing officer.

Leary focused on partnering with youth sports event companies to use the company’s SaaS to scale use of its social network. The company succeeded and continued scaling until the pandemic hit and youth sports events halted. Leary secured financing to tide the company through the pandemic and doubled down on the company’s marketing to athletes and supporting them with online collegiate exposure. This focus skyrocketed usage and catapulted Sports Thread to one of the top 200 Apple sports apps in the world — a rank that the company has retained every month since.

“We always weigh every decision by its impact to the company, to our user base and to our clients,” Leary said. “Items with the biggest impact get addressed first. We leverage as much data as possible to inform our decision-making on how to execute the task at hand. This framework has served us well in building our business!”

Sports Thread emerged from the pandemic, youth sports events and revenues resumed, and Leary helped clients return to business operations. Two years later, he has raised $6 million in financing and produced more than $2.5 million in revenues.

“Sean has built and established a client roster of over 100 different companies that rely on the Sports Thread platform for their business growth and operations; our software is accessed by over two million people per year and has helped over 10,000 athletes achieve a college scholarship or roster spot for free,” the company said. “Sean has led Sports Thread from being a college kid’s idea, through the pandemic, to being an industry disruptor in a multibillion-dollar market.”

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Sean is a native son of Colorado, growing up in Arvada. He attended Arvada West High School, where he was an ESPN All-American. Sean is consistently in pursuit of physical goals as well as business. He is an accomplished skier and marathon runner.


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