“The most rewarding thing about starting my own business? Being in control of my own future and the future of my business.”
Meet Fitzann (Fitz) Reid who last year joined five of her Wharton San Francisco Executive MBA program classmates to launch a sports ownership group and purchase a professional basketball team in Italy.
Many of them had taken a sports management course together, where their professor Robert DiGisi WG’93, told them about a professional Italian basketball club that might be open to buyers. Soon enough, the six of them had formed Cotogna Sports Group (CSG) and raised enough capital to secure a 90% stake of Pallacanestro Trieste, valued at $5 million.
Fitz has always had an interest in sports and business but before attending Wharton she had taken a more traditional legal path and had become a veritable powerhouse at the SEC. She had obtained her JD from Washington University in St. Louis, where she received the Equal Justice Works Award and Scholar in Law Award, and her undergraduate degree from Pace University, where she majored in business and minored in law. She worked for Wells Fargo Advisors and held many positions at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Fitz has received numerous awards in the legal field, including the National LGBT Bar Association’s 40 Under 40 Award and in 2020 she received the American Bar Association’s Top 40 Young Lawyers Award.
“My dad played professional soccer in Jamaica, so I grew up surrounded by a passion for the sport. I played soccer in college and coached before going to law school. I’ve always thought about sports ownership, but especially as a woman, and as a Black woman, I wasn’t sure when or if that opportunity would present itself. When this idea started forming between us to explore sports acquisitions, I thought, Absolutely! Let’s do it.” (read more at The Penn Gazette).
“Part of the reason why I went to business school is to learn and expand my skill set,” Fitz says. “I’m not just a lawyer — I’m a lawyer and I know the business side. I always knew I wanted to start a business but didn’t quite know what the business would be. The mix of sports and running a business is a perfect intersection of that.” (read more at Washington Magazine.)
Tell us a bit about your company
Cotogna Sports Group is an investment group that focuses on building and developing sporting franchises.
What inspired you to start your business — what opportunity in the market are you seeking to address?
Cotogna Sports Group’s origin story began on the Wharton San Francisco campus. I am one of the 6 founders and we think there is a growing opportunity to invest in sports in Europe. Especially basketball which is one of the fastest growing sports on the continent.
What is it about your personal background, experience, or perspective that fuels your passion for this venture?
I am a former soccer player and I love sports. Now that I am older and cannot play at the level I used to, I am turning to sports ownership as a way to still be involved in sports.
What are one or two of the biggest wins or most encouraging experiences you’ve had so far?
In 2023 we purchased Pallacanestro Trieste, a top-tier Italian professional basketball team.
What has been one or two of your biggest learnings so far?
1. Cross-cultural management: Owning a basketball team in a foreign country exposes you to a different cultural context, which has been a great learning experience. I have encountered unique customs, traditions, and ways of doing business. Managing a team in Italy requires understanding and navigating the cultural nuances of the country, including communication styles, work ethic, and social norms.
2. International business operations: Running a sports team in a foreign country involves various aspects of international business operations. I have gained insights into international market dynamics, including understanding the Italian sports industry, its regulations, and competitive landscape. Managing the team’s finances, sponsorship deals, and player transfers has exposed me to international trade, negotiation skills, and legal considerations specific to the sports industry.
What is an obstacle that you are grappling with as you continue to build this venture?
Sponsorship. The goal is to bring this team to an international audience and we can only do that by having international sponsors. So we are working hard to build this part of the venture.
What surprises have you encountered as an entrepreneur? Something out of left field?
How passionate the fans and the communities in Europe are about their teams. These teams are a representative of their culture and they take this very seriously. Being an entrepreneur in sports means that there is more to the teams than just the game. It’s about the community.
What has been the most rewarding thing about starting your own business?
Being in control of my own future and the future of my business.