Most soccer fans probably watched the 2014 World Cup quarterfinal between Brazil and Colombia at home or at a bar with friends.
Grant Kendzior watched the action unfold in The Ceaser Park, Sofitel hotel lobby in Rio De Janiero, Brazil sitting between Netherlands star midfielder Arjen Robben and former Netherlands great Ruud van Nistelrooy.
“It was electric being around the games, and seeing how seriously people took the World Cup, and how passionate they were about their country,” Kendzior said. “It renewed my passion for the game. Every day I woke up with a smile. It was my childhood dream come true.”
Watching that game with some of the best soccer players in the world was just one of many memorable moments for Kendzior (MSE ’15) this past summer. But it wasn’t all fun and games as he worked hard to help lay the groundwork for his new venture, Goals for Goals (facebook.com/goalsforgoals).
Goals for Goals encompasses Kendzior’s three passions: Soccer, traveling and giving back. The company, which began in April, created the first environmentally friendly soccer goal made from recycled plastics. Additionally, with its interchangeable sections, the goal can change into four sizes, including the professional dimensions of 8 feet x 24 feet.
But what separates Goals for Goals from similar companies is its mission, its commitment to social entrepreneurship and its innovative designed goal. Goals for Goals operates under the “One for One” model, also known as “Buy One, Give One.” For every goal the company sells, it will donate a goal to disadvantaged children. Goals for Goals also will inspire youth around the world using their Goals for Goals personal goals books to help individuals set and achieve their goals. Goals for Goals is striving to become a certified B corporation—only 950 in the world—to use the power of business to solve social and environmental issues.
“A lot of companies have tried to create goals that can be reassembled or goals that can change sizes,” said Hunter Spears, a fourth-year mechanical engineering student and Goals for Goals’ Lead Engineer, “but no one has taken that step to solidify themselves and set themselves apart the way Grant wants to by giving back.”
The team has the passion to make a splash in social entrepreneurship, but they face the same challenges most new ventures face: Production and funding. Kendzior said the team has developed prototypes—thanks in large part to the 3D printing available at UF’s A2 Fab Lab—but connecting the concept to a tangible and easy-to-use design has been difficult.
“It’s one thing to make it online in CAD (computer-aided design) software where everything fits together perfectly,” Spears said. “But there are a lot of tolerances you don’t realize with 3D printing. We need to figure those tweaks out and fine-tune our design so it’s not overly-complicated.”
Because prototypes for the goals are expensive, funding is critical for growth. Kendzior said the company has the interest of some angel investors, and is also exploring other avenues such as Kickstarter, grants and donations.
One aspect of the venture the team doesn’t have to worry about is networking. Grant, and his brother, Cary, spent the summer in Brazil working as guides for Ludus Tours, facilitating red-carpet experiences for wealthy clients. Grant and Cary personally built relationships and obtained more than 600 email addresses from athletes’ representatives, media and corporate representatives among others like Will Ferrell, Los Angeles Lakers guard Steve Nash and Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones. The brothers also promoted the company and futboled all over South America, traveling to Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Chile.
And some of the people most interested in Goals for Goals were the athletes themselves. Grant stayed in the same hotel as the Netherlands national team allowing him to chat with the likes of Robben, van Nistelrooy, Wesley Sneijder and Robin Van Persie.
“I think they appreciated that I wasn’t coming to them for autographs,” Kendzior said. “When they saw how passionate I was about the company, they were willing to open up.”
Kendzior said he is excited to begin work in the Thomas S. Johnson Master of Science in Entrepreneurship program, and believes the knowledge he will gain through the MSE will benefit Goals for Goals.
Grant has worked extremely hard to position himself in this program and has overcome many obstacles to get here. From a crazy childhood playing extreme sports and numerous injuries to being diagnosed Dyslexic at a young age. Grant had to learn discipline and determination to accomplish his goals through hard work.
Said Kendzior: “I’m really grateful to be part of the MSE program. I know being in this program will give me hands-on knowledge and coaching from people who have been there and done it.
“I am extremely grateful for my family, friends, team, mentors, and teachers for instrumentally helping me on my way to achieving my goals!”