We talk a lot about how Tabbris is a place to spread your wings, but what does that mean in practice? Our goal as a company is to foster growth for our members, and that means at some point, they’re going to outgrow us. If things go as planned, Tabbris helps them get to the point where their team is too big to hang out in a coworking space anymore, and they’re ready to fly on their own.
Cue Stay Plugged In (or SPIN). They’re an esports startup connecting high school students to college esports opportunities. They joined Tabbris last June, as places (including Tabbris) began to lightly open up after being shut down since March. From there, they grew to host summer camps and gaming streams and even partner with local nonprofits to expand scholarship opportunities.
Recently, they joined forces with Charlotte Phoenix, Charlotte’s professional esports team, to create the CLT Esports Hub. Charlotte Phoenix, owned by CJ Collins, joined Tabbris shortly after our inception in 2019. Both SPIN and Phoenix grew substantially, even through a pandemic, and decided to create an esports “center” in the city. From a team of 5 and 3 respectively to a collective team of over 20, CLT Esports accomplished a huge feat while at Tabbris, and now they’ve reached the point where they need their own space to continue their growth and mission. Which we get, here at Tabbris. Their journey has exemplified exactly what we envisioned for our members and their companies.
We had a conversation with each part of the CLT Esports whole – Kyle Taylor, Director of Player Development at SPIN, and CJ Collins, Owner of Charlotte Phoenix – to get a grasp on what exactly it meant to spread their wings at Tabbris.
A Chat with the Teams
1. What’s gone on with your company in the past year?
Kyle Taylor, Director of Player Development, SPIN: We’ve grown immensely in the last year. Last summer, we were comprised of a few different companies working together on various projects, with only about 8 staff members. From there, we’ve fully combined forces into the Carolina Esports Hub, at 20 strong team members full-time! Our biggest feats have been delivering live-event experiences for players and parents, which provides the ability to be recruited into college on scholarships. We’re now over the $3 million dollar mark in scholarships facilitated for players on our platform.
CJ Collins, Owner, CLT Esports and Charlotte Phoenix: It’s definitely been a journey, I remember when I was alone at Tabbris working on building the business. The space felt huge back then and I did everything I could to make it feel smaller. There’s something very special about a small group and a vision though. Since then, we’ve grown to 22 employees, different departments, employee handbooks, and much more work.
2. How has Tabbris helped with your growth?
Kyle: Tabbris has been great! The space in general was exactly what we needed in the beginning, as we had many small event activations over time. A really great thing was the ease of access to the building. 24/7 access is fantastic when we have a ton of weekend events and late-night streams.
CJ: Having a space that allowed our employees to come together and collaborate daily was the pinnacle to our success, we used every inch of space; the conference rooms, event space, offices, lunch rooms, all of it. It was also a great place to call home while we were growing.
3. What’s been your favorite thing about working here?
Kyle: Tabbris Tuesdays! A great group of people just talking about life and having fun in the middle of the week is always something to look forward to.
CJ: Most definitely the Tabbris staff, the group of folks over there running behind the scenes are some of my favorite folks I’ve ever gotten to work with. They are also pretty savvy business leaders, it was nice to bounce ideas off them. Additionally – the other companies helped us grow and learn. The entreprenurialship mindset is contagious and the space really showed me its helpful to have other like-minded business leaders around.
4. Where are y’all headed?
Kyle: For us as the Carolina Esports Hub, we look to expand our team to simply facilitate more events in general. We have about 12 events lined up over the fall months of this year and we all know that it will take the entire team at full strength to be able to facilitate these successfully. The best part is now we have the resources to really fuel our growth, both in customers and new team members.
CJ: We’re headed towards building our own HQ to give esports events a home within Charlotte. Everything we do is working towards our event center.
5. What’s been your most valuable lesson/experience over this past year?
Kyle: Personally, I’ve realized that nothing can succeed without a team. Surrounding yourself with passionate and highly-skilled individuals to come together as a team to accomplish something special is the best recipe for success. I remember the first time we had 20 coinciding streams at once, each on its own PC. We not only had our entire team there, regardless if streaming was their strength, but we also had about 10 more people from the general Charlotte esports community. It was simply incredible to see a number of different people come together to stream a number of high schoolers looking for scholarships.
CJ: I’d say the best lesson is that there’s always something new to learn or some distraction in your way. You have to make sure to keep your eye on the prize and don’t let all the noise distract you from getting your mission accomplished. It’s super hard to do, but if you don’t do it you’ll end up somewhere else you didn’t see yourself going.
6. Anything else you want to share about working out of Tabbris?
Kyle: Tabbris and all of its people have been fantastic in general. From rolly-chair basketball and late-night drinks to pitch competitions and corporate business meetings, Tabbris helps all of it! It’s been great to work in an ecosystem of like-minded individuals, all of who just want to see each other succeed!
We love a success story. The shared view for most startups is that growth is vital, and when that happens, we all cheer each other on. CLT Esports will now have their own “hub” and office space where they can continue their growth and gaming. Hopefully, we can foster the same grow for all the other companies that come our way.
We want startups to outgrow us, so if you think your’s could be next, schedule a tour here!