MBA alum’s sports-talk startup aims to get women off the sidelines
Published: February 16, 2023 / Author: Danna Lorch
As a kid, Amy Buchan Siegfried (MBA ‘21) wasn’t exactly athletic. Actually, one of her earliest memories involves getting smacked in the face with a soccer ball. Left out, she watched from the bleachers as her brother Scott scored instead.
Years later, as a business executive and experienced founder, she realized that when it comes to following sports news, too many women sideline themselves. They lose out on connecting with colleagues in the workplace and on building relationships that can lead to career advancement. “You can only talk about the weather for so long,” Siegfried quipped.
To meet this need, Siegfried and her brother Scott Buchan launched Last Night’s Game in 2015. The free platform makes daily sports news understandable and shareable. Siegfried said, “You don’t have to be an ESPN reporter, but knowing what’s going on in sports gives you that extra nugget in your pocket at a networking event.” For example, you can ask someone how they feel about Tom Brady retiring. “That’s not super sporty but it’s a way to break the ice.”
What began as a bootstrapped newsletter for 100 friends has scaled organically into a significant global community. Last Night’s Game readers deeply engage with each triweekly email and pithy five-minute podcast. The audience is about 65% women, many of them truly passionate about sports. Whether it’s following cricket or demystifying the NFL draft, Siegfried said, “They want that information to share in the boardroom or that Zoom waiting room.”
It was the sports industry that gave Siegfried her first shot at bat, too. As an undergraduate at Arizona State University, Siegfried was a member of the Public Relations Student Society of America and was searching for professional direction. “You can’t be what you can’t see,” she said. “Growing up, I didn’t know anybody who worked in the sports industry. When I saw broadcast journalists covering games on television, they were always men, so I never really thought about a career in that space.”
When two members of the Arizona Diamondbacks PR team delivered a career talk at one of the group’s meetings, Siegfried instantly recognized her future industry. “A light came down from heaven. I hadn’t even known that existed, yet here was a woman leading the team’s community relations and philanthropic foundation,” Siegfried recalled. She assertively introduced herself to the speaker and interviewed for and landed an internship.
That morphed into a role as director of Community Affairs for the Diamondbacks. While fundraising $2.5 million in annual community programming was meaningful, and Siegfried developed a talent for speaking on-air, the work wasn’t always glamorous. She learned hustle and humility in heels as she pushed dollies loaded with baseball merchandise through the stadium’s underground tunnels each long season.
She leaned on those skills during a subsequent chapter directing corporate social responsibility for Apollo Group, an educational services company. It was also what gave her the confidence to dig deep and launch her first company Inspiri, an event planning and marketing firm, and to thrive as an expatriate in Singapore, where she and her husband next built a life from scratch.
They ultimately moved back stateside to Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 2015. Siegfried struggled to plug herself into a new job in yet another new town. The résumé gap offered the ideal chance to go into startup mode with Last Night’s Game, an idea that she and Scott had tossed around for years but never found time to chase. Building it quickly became her full-time job.
At the peak of the pandemic, Siegfried pursued her Executive MBA at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business. With no childcare available, she held her infant son when classes went remote. To her surprise, both professors and peers supported that. “They really embrace you as a whole person at Mendoza,” she said.
Today, Siegfried is also an adjunct professor at Oklahoma State University Spears School of Business, where she teaches entrepreneurship. She tells her students, many of them aspiring founders, “You don’t know what you’re capable of until you dive in. Starting a business is like trying a new sport. You have to try, fail, refine and practice. It’s not always going to be pretty.”
Some nights, Siegfried is stretched so thin with commitments that she and her family eat peanut butter sandwiches for dinner. None of them cares.
Siegfried is proud to be a female founder in the male-dominated startup world and serves as Diversity Equity and Inclusion Chair and Vice Chair of the Board of Directors at IrishAngels, one of the country’s largest and most successful angel investment networks.
Yet just 2% of venture capital investments in the United States went to female founders in 2021. Through her work with IrishAngels, Siegfried is determined to convince more investors to take an active role in funding early-stage founders from underrepresented communities.
There’s not a single aspect of her life in which Siegfried isn’t bent on drafting more women to bring their best game.