The Next Lebron James

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In 2002, the year before Lebron James was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers as the first overall pick in the NBA draft, the Cavs held a record of 17-65 with a winning percentage of just .207. This was the worst record in the Eastern Conference, making the Cavs one of the worst teams in the entire league. They were in desperate need of talented and creative players that could lift them into a new era of victory.

Today, the city of Cleveland finds itself in a familiar situation – this time not in the realm of sports, but in its economic development.  The statistics are depressing: Cleveland ranks dead last — 71st of the 71 largest metro areas — in job creation, according to Forbes. According to the Chronicle Telegram, “Our poverty rate is currently 35 percent. That’s the second worst in the nation.” Cleveland is in desperate need of talented individuals and creative ideas that can lift the city into a new era of innovation and prosperity.

In 2003, the Cleveland Cavaliers found the answer to their prayers when they drafted a 19-year-old kid from Akron. Lebron stepped into the NBA scene straight out of high school. He had the perfect combination of size, strength, speed, intelligence, and work ethic to push the lowly Cavs into a new era of teamwork, game winning shots, and even an NBA Finals Championship.  

However, this new era did not dawn overnight. It took years of tough lessons, and it wasn’t until Lebron left the Cavs and then eventually came back before they could achieve their ultimate dream of an NBA Championship title.

The impact of Lebron returning to Cleveland extended far beyond basketball. According to research done by Daniel Shoag and Stan Veuger, his return brought a 13% increase in dining and entertainment establishments near the stadium, and a 23.5% employment increase in a similar radius.

As a lifelong Clevelander away for school most of the year, I came back to this city for an entrepreneurship internship with Flashstarts. They’re doing their part in leading the search for the next talented individuals and innovative startup companies that will bring more jobs and opportunities to Cleveland – looking for the next championship company, and looking for a support players to bring the title home.

As an intern at Flashstarts you probably aren’t the next Lebron James–but you might be.  Most of the startups here aren’t necessarily the Championship title for Cleveland either–but they might be. Not everyone can be Lebron, but even “King James” needed talent around him to win. So while Cleveland is looking for its next star, it’s looking just as fervently for a rock-solid supporting cast.

Now, in 2018, the city of Cleveland is looking for another Lebron James to bring the city into a better future. Just like the Cavs, Cleveland will journey down a long, winding, difficult, and sometimes unexpected road before the city finds what it’s looking for. The good news is that Flashstarts offers a compelling combination, of talented people, creative ideas, innovative technology, and collaborative space. The next Lebron James won’t just be able to find his or her passion, but grow that passion into a business that creates jobs and brings economic development into the city.

If you are a dreamer with high aspirations and the work ethic and intelligence to back it up, then Flashstarts is the place for you. There are ample opportunities and the support is here to help talented people and promising businesses reach their goals.

Maybe the opportunity to build something from nothing sounds too risky and difficult to you. In that case, go work for an established, successful company. Kevin Durant joined the Golden State Warriors, a team which already had the best single season record ever.  

He is very successful today and you can follow his path and achieve similar success. But who do we treasure more – Kevin Durant, or Lebron James? We both know the answer.

Will Sharer is an Avon native and a rising senior studying Marketing and Sports Management at Ohio Wesleyan University. He is currently a Marketing Intern at Flashstarts, Inc. where he helps build startup companies. For more information, please visit

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