Former NFL Star Darren Woodson: You’re Never Going to Be Perfect in Business

Any founder will tell you that building a business comes with its fair share of roller coaster rides. One week you are flying high and everything is awesome, and the next week you’re trying to make payroll. Starting and building a business isn’t for the weary, just ask former NFL player-turned-entrepreneur Darren Woodson.

“Just like on the football field, you get knocked on your ass, and you get up. There’s going to be someone bigger, stronger, faster…and you just need to get up,” said Woodson.

His startup, CounterFind, is tackling the $4 billion problem of counterfeit merchandise and is the leading “online police” company that shuts down fake sport and entertainment merchandise ads and product listings in real time. Currently, the platform monitors some major online sites that have millions of users for any illegal activity and alerts the brands. They hope to become a household name and launch more verticals (like beauty and luxury brands) in the coming years.

At Techstars Startup Week Dallas powered by Chase for Business, Darren, a three-time Super Bowl champion, five-time Pro Bowl selection, ESPN analyst, and founder of CounterFind, offered his advice to a room filled with small business owners about overcoming challenges and surrounding yourself with good people to keep going.

Your Team Will Keep You Going

Launching a startup has been an eye-opening experience for Woodson. But what keeps him going is his team and his competitive spirit.

“I found my team at the Tech Wildcatters incubator, and they had a passion for moving forward and overcoming fears of a startup. They had to shape me through the process, because they’ve gone through it on a day-to-day basis. My crew have become family because we’ve gone through so much over the year – we believe in each other, and we’re making waves and energy.”

Find People Who Hold You Accountable

From the time he was little and playing football, Woodson said that one of the factors that helped him become successful was surrounding himself with family and team members who keep him accountable for his actions and performance.

“I don’t know how many times I’ve missed a tackle, and my brothers would say ‘yeah well you missed two tackles.’ It’s surrounding yourself with people who will hold you accountable for your actions. My [CounterFind] crew hold me accountable, but we’re friends, and that’s the awesome part of it. We stick together. I don’t think there’s a point that we can’t get through anything, [and] we keep each other in check,” said Woodson.

Take Care of Your Relationships

Whether it’s customers or vendors, one of CounterFind’s core values is building relationships.

“With over 50 brands [we have] a relationship with them. We are going to make sure we take care of the relationship whatever we have to do. We’ve been highly successful holding onto those relationships. We want to be part of the fabric of what they are doing, and it hurt us seeing brands being taking advantage of and we want to do something about it,” said Woodson.

CounterFind has received an investment from Blue Star Innovation Partners. Woodson attributes their positive relationship to helping them power through challenges.

“[While] raising money, we got to learn about the strategic partners in the race. But the relationships that you build and the type of people you bring on [has] given us another understanding of thinking big. There is no way we can do this alone or have all the answers to scale the right way,” said Woodson.

You’re Going to Take Some Ls

No one likes losing. But in the business world, you’re not always going to score a touchdown. It comes down to how you overcome hurdles.

“There will be times you’ll take Ls in the business world, and it sucks. There will be people who doubt you and sling mud at you, but you [need] people that have the same vision,” said Woodson.


“Some of the weaknesses we have to figure out [and] get better. And it never stops, you’re never going to be perfect in this business. [But it’s] overcoming these challenges, that’s the best part of this business.”

Entrepreneurship Is a Mental Long Game

Building a business is a long game, and you have to find ways to nurture the mental stamina to deal with the day-to-day fluctuations.

“Everything is forever changing, and you better be on the top of your game to be successful. The game is never won on game day, you never win on Sunday, the game is won during the week. Because if you’re not putting in the work, then Sunday is too late. If you are not prepared mentally or not mentally focused, you’re not going to win,” said Woodson.

Read more inspirational interviews on TechCo

This article is part of a Techstars Startup Week content series brought to you by CHASE for BUSINESS. Techstars Startup Week is celebration of entrepreneurs in cities around the globe. CHASE for BUSINESS is everything a business needs in one place, from expert advice to valuable products and services. Find business news, stories, insights and expert tips all in one place at Read the rest of our Startup Week series on TechCo.

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Written by:
Tishin is a technology journalist and correspondent. She has written for TechCrunch, Demand Studios and Fitness, and has regular network segments on local Phoenix affiliate stations. She holds a Master's degree in Clinical and Sport psychology, and has covered many areas of technology ranging from 3D printing and game development to neurotech and funding for over 15 years.
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