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Learnings & Lessons From My Favorite YPN Events image

Learnings & Lessons From My Favorite YPN Events

Welcome to the very first blog post from Licensing International’s Young Professionals Network (or YPN for short)! While we intend for this to be a regularly occurring series, I am honored to have the privilege of penning the very first installment after nearly six years in the industry as a YPN member myself.

By way of a quick introduction, my name is Nick Manzo, and I am an Associate Director within IMG’s Licensing division. In addition to my “day job”, I also serve as the head of our YPN Membership Committee.

Formed in the beginning of 2020, the YPN Membership Committee is tasked with crafting amazing events (such as the panel earlier this month with Crunchyroll & BioWorld) and networking functions – which we hope to have back in person soon!

Our mission is to offer a space for young brand licensing professionals to expand their skill base, their network, and their horizons with free educational and social events tailored to their unique interests and needs.

With this first post, I thought that there’s no better way to capture our goals above than to call out some of my favorite events and lessons from years past. Below are some of my favorites:

  1. Entrepreneurship & Creative Pivots with TasteMakers’ President, Scott Bachrach: This was a wonderful event as we were able to hear from the brains behind Arcade 1UP, one of the most innovative gaming companies out today. Scott gave us an inside look into his career and the importance of pivoting as he helped grow Arcade 1UP into a 9-figure brand. It also was pretty fun getting to play old-school video games like Space Invaders & Galaga!
  2. Licensing Deal Making with Brand Liaison’s Steven Heller: As I began my career in licensing, contract negotiation always seemed like a terrifying endeavor. This event led by Brand Liaison’s president, Steven Heller, helped ease some of those concerns via a wonderful crash-course into the key terms and negotiating points of any licensing deal. It was such a confident boost to have Steven Heller seamlessly explain terms & business practices such as net sales, minimum guarantees, and sell-off periods in an easy-to-understand manner, and it was an incredible help to my career.
  3. Corporate Brand Licensing Best Practices with Seltzer Licensing’s Stu Seltzer: This event was one of my favorites, as Stu Seltzer gave our YPN group a look under the hood as a specialist in Corporate Brand Licensing. We dove into brand programs such as those from Unilever, Hershey, Scotts Miracle Gro and others. A key takeaway for me during this event was how these brands differ in their approach to licensing compared to large studios, celebrities or sports teams/leagues. While revenue is of course still an important KPI metric for these programs, we learned that these corporate brands are very strategic in their approach with a primary focus on brand awareness & brand growth. With licensing royalties tending to be miniscule compared to broader core businesses, this event really showed how key it is for these corporate brands to think strategically about brand licensing.
  4. Happy Hour Drinks at Rhythm & Riffs: Finally, some of my favorite YPN experiences have been meeting my fellow peers via networking events, culminating during our annual meet-up at Licensing Show. Every year at Licensing Expo, the YPN group will meet for a happy hour at the Rhythm & Riffs bar – it’s always a great time seeing friends all in one place, and a great time to meet folks from around the country and globe. It’s been an amazing experience getting to foster these relationships, and there have now been numerous projects I’ve worked on with some of the folks I had first met at the Rhythm & Riffs bar!

While these are only some of my favorites (there have been too many amazing events to name them all!), I can’t say enough about how much I’ve been able to learn and grow from the YPN group.

If you’re interested in attending our next event or learning more about YPN, I encourage you to join the YPN mailing list here. Please also be sure to sign up for our specialized LinkedIn & Facebook groups as well.


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