It’s hard to keep track of all Mac Lackey’s business interests.
The Charlotte entrepreneur has built and sold five companies, the most recent being Kyck, an online registration platform focused on soccer, that in May was sold to a Minneapolis company called Sport Ngin. That company was then purchased last week by NBC Sports.
But on Monday, Lackey spoke to the Observer from Barcelona, Spain, where his Charlotte-based sports management firm ISL Futbol has an office. Acting as an agent for soccer club FC Barcelona, the company is working to bring more FC Barcelona camps and schools to the U.S., including an academy in Charlotte that’s slated to open this fall.
His goal: Put Charlotte on the map as a soccer destination, not unlike how SwimMAC makes Charlotte a hot spot for elite swimmers.
Lackey has experience of his own in the sport. After the Charlotte native’s career at East Mecklenburg High School, he went on to play at Wake Forest before joining the Charlotte Eagles, a pro team that was later replaced by the Charlotte Independence.
“I’m certainly really interested in Charlotte developing as a soccer city, but most of my personal focus is on the international opportunity. Building a true international hub where teams like FC Barcelona choose to build academies, and some of the best players in the country choose to move to Charlotte and train in those academies,” Lackey said.
Lackey, 45, has been on the Charlotte startup scene since the late 1990s. He says the entrepreneurial cycle is good for the city, from the building of companies to their eventual sale, which allows entrepreneurs like him to innovate and start all over again.
“Selling another tech business in Charlotte is really what the city needs to continue to flourish as an entrepreneurial center. We have some work to do,” Lackey said.
“I think exits are among the most important parts of the process,” he added.
Another prominent brand Lackey helped found, Mountain Khakis, has been through a similar process. He and his friend Ross Saldarini, both soccer players at East Meck, started the company in 2004. They sold the retailer to the firearms company Remington Arms in 2010 and last spring, Remington and other minority owners sold the company to Connecticut-based Kanders & Co. After the second sale, Lackey left the business for good; Saladarini, who also co-founded Kyck, remains Mountain Khakis’ president.
Outside of his current role with Kyck/NBC, Lackey said he considers himself an “active investor.” He just joined the venture capital firm VentureSouth as a managing director. The firm focuses on early stage investment in firms across South Carolina and Western North Carolina, but it’s also expanding into Charlotte.
He sees his new post there as helping make possible some investments he would have otherwise had taken on by himself.
“They have the infrastructure and capital that makes it a little bit easier when I find opportunities, just to drop it onto VentureSouth. That company can raise more money because it really aggregates capital from multiple markets. So it’s a little more efficient than trying to do something by yourself,” Lackey said.