Mark Hillen left a consulting position to open a youth sports league. Find out why.
New i9 Sports® owner Mark Hillen has always loved sports. He began playing soccer around the age of 5 and grew up to play soccer at West Point. After graduation, Mark served six years and two tours of combat duty in the Army, then entered the National Guard.
When he left the military, Mark went to business school in Arizona and became a consultant for Ernst & Young in 2010. Despite his successful and high-profile career, there was a downside to his work: constant travel.
“For most of my career, I would board a plane every Monday morning and usually head to New York City,” he says.
His busy schedule meant less time to spend with his wife Kari and their two children. Mark decided that he wanted a career with more flexibility, and he had always wanted to own his own business. Rather than joining another company, Mark decided it was the perfect time to pursue that goal.
Finding a good fit with i9 Sports
Mark was already aware of i9 Sports and noticed the number of young families in his neighborhood and community who were great candidates for a youth sports league. Then he found an article about Janson and Amy Kinsley, who own an i9 Sports business near Minneapolis, not far from Mark’s new franchise.
In addition to his love of sports, Mark loves kids and is passionate about seeing them thrive as they grow and develop. As a father of two youngsters (Madison, almost 4, and Brayden, 2), he wanted his own children to play in youth leagues when they were ready. i9 Sports was a natural fit.
Seeing that i9 was doing well in the area, Mark decided to seize the opportunity. He opened an i9 Sports location in the northwest metro area outside Minneapolis a few months ago and is enrolling kids for the spring 2022 season.
“I didn’t do this for the money, but hope that will eventually come,” Mark says. “I want to reach as many kids as possible and teach them the value of sportsmanship and positive character traits. It will be very fulfilling to see kids grow and learn these values and to see their big smiles on game day!”
Running a business that helps kids
Mark hopes to grow the business and would like to have multiple venues within a few years. He’d also like to open a second territory when the opportunity is right. “I would love to get Kari more involved down the road as well,” he says.
From a business perspective, Mark says he likes the opportunity that i9 Sports offers for multiple revenue streams, the flexible schedule, and the ability to combine his business sense with his love of sports.
In addition, Mark says, “I want to provide an excellent experience for kids. It’s a great model for teaching life skills, developing sports skills, and having fun. Kids need positive influences. I want to instill in every child that they have what it takes to be a leader both on and off the field.”
To find out more about the business opportunity with i9 Sports, fill out the form on this page to download our free franchise report.