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David Raymond from Raymond Entertainment Group
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Last year David Raymond joined us for a lengthy interview while he was busy entertaining as Sport. David has long been a fixture in the world of sports entertainment. He set the baseball mascot standard as the original Phillie Phanatic and then as Sport.

Recently David started his own company, the Raymond Entertainment Group. We caught up with this very busy executive as he ramps up the new touring character, Reggy, as well as creates a broad business plan for the company.

It is always a pleasure to talk with David. As a true industry leader, his insights are as useful for a rookie mascot as they are for a veteran team executive.

Once again David has a lot to say, so April's interview will be posted in two parts.

Gameops.com [Jon Cudo]: Last time we talked, you were back at Acme Mascots making waves as Sport. We talked about a lot of topics including connecting with your clients on the web and some tips for young mascots. (read the May 2000 Interview on Gameops.com). Bring us up to date with how you got from there to your present situation and tell us about your new business.

David Raymond
: During the last year, I developed a business plan with my brother's help. We surprisingly got investor support very quickly, that type of investor we would call an angel and truly that is what we found. The nuts and bolts of the plan is really a template of the work that I did with the Phillies. We first created a brand new live entertainment feature named Reggy.

Reggy is a generic character that can entertain in any type of crowd at any event. We have already booked Reggy at minor league baseball events, but there has been a great deal of interest from local corporations, charities, conventions and non-profit organizations for live entertainment needs. We want to have Reggy available for that type of performance as well.

The biggest change in this business plan is the creating, producing and delivering of complete character programs for not only sports entities, but corporations as well. We call this character branding. Its all about, you know, money making fun. Delivering a message with entertainment. That is a very powerful tool that both sports and corporations understand.

There has been some tremendous growth in this area from both colleges and universities lately. Colleges have been hiring MBA's to head their marketing and merchandising efforts. These people understand the value of the university's mark and their mascot in delivering their message and competing for new students and national recognition. Those colleges are going to need new and creative ideas to brand their message. We are uniquely positioned to service all of these market places. We can deliver full character branding programs including a first run of merchandise quickly, efficiently and affordably. In essence, Raymond Entertainment Group is selling franchises. We can support those franchises with everything they need to make them profitable. From unique designs to training performers to event production, we are a one stop shop.

One of the most exciting aspects of the support for us is the creation of new and unique character toys. The merchandise is where we see the most prospects for growth. We have raised the bar with our merchandise programs. The beanie babies and things everyone has seen, we can do those. But we also create new and interesting toys that have not been seen in the marketplace. We have relationships with novelty and apparel companies, and we hold college and minor league baseball licenses. So we will work with teams to create character specific merchandise and turn their character into a profit-center.

Remember, it's money making fun.

Cudo: What percentage of your clients now are in sports, and what percentage are you after?

Raymond: First, we needed to capitalize on the marketplace where we have already established relationships with the clients. In minor league baseball and the colleges we already have strong relationships who know us and trust us. We will use Reggy as our own character branding program to convey the Raymond Entertainment message.

Now we have also created characters for the New Orleans Saints, Lakewood Blue Claws, Lake Elsinore Storm, and Kannapolis Intimidators. These are our pilot projects. We will build on those successes and hopefully make the cross over to the corporate world soon.

It's nice to see the business model put to the test in the real world, and now I actually want to look for more financing. We want to excite people who want to invest with us further. We really want to spend a great deal of time on marketing and getting the word out that we are strong and we know characters. We are the people you need to talk to when you have concerns about an existing character or when you want to start a new character.

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