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Silicon Valley CEO wins opportunity to coach Red Wolves

By Caleb Hennington
On April 17, 2014

From Silicon Valley to the Arkansas Delta, one San Francisco entrepreneur has earned the opportunity of a lifetime, buying the rights to coach the Red Wolves football spring game and earning a chance to become a part of the pack.

Nick Bhardwaj, founder and CEO of Beyond Games in San Francisco, was the highest bidder for the Red Wolves “BCS Heach Coach Experience” eBay auction, bidding $11,700 for the right to coach the team for a day.

Bhardwaj spoke to Mary Jackson-Pitts Media Management and Entrepreneurship class on Thursday about his job experiences, how he got to where he is today, and his plans for coaching the Red Wolves spring game.

The 25-year-old entrepreneur attended San Jose State University for a brief time, with the intention of pursuing a law degree, but dropped out of school after working at some internships that revealed law wasn’t quite the direction he wanted to take in life.

“I didn’t feel like those were ideal scenarios, and I kind of wanted to try something else, so I did the crazy thing of just leaving school,” Bhardwaj said. “I felt like I would be getting more value out of real world experiences.”

After leaving SJSU, Bhardwaj decided that a career in technology was the way to go.

“At that time I realized tech was booming, tech was interesting, tech was wonderful, and I kind of just wanted to get in. And I got in the weirdest way possible; I went on Craigslist and just looked for internships,” Bhardwaj said.

After working with a few tech companies in the area, Bhardwaj decided it was time to take a stab at his own tech startup, Beyond Games. Beyond Games is Bhardwaj’s video game company, which focuses on mobile gaming for smartphones and tablets.

Bhardwaj said what motivates him the most to be successful is to live an uncomfortable life.

“I realized that when I put myself into uncomfortable situations, that’s when I learn the most,” the 25-year-old said. “My core goal in life now is to be constantly uncomfortable. It’s hard to explain, but it just forces me to react. The biggest worry I have in life is getting complacent; doing the same things in life and feeling fake satisfied.”

His hunger to feel constantly uncomfortable is one of the reasons Bhardwaj decided to bid his hard earned dough into the pool of potential coaching candidates.

“I don’t have a college coaching background by any means, high school coaching, or even peewee coaching. I just wanted to throw myself in there and get as gritty as possible, “ he said. “The last time I looked at a playbook was probably six years ago, outside of Madden or NCAA football on a video game console.

I’ve gotten a lot of stuff wrong these past five days, and I’ve probably asked quite a few dumb questions to the coaches, but I like that,” Bhardwaj admitted. “They’ll tell me what’s right, they’ll tell me where to go and send me in the right direction.”

As far as the plan goes for the game on Friday, Bhardwaj said he won’t be trying any trick plays, like the “hide the midget” play that helped the Red Wolves defeat Ball State in January’s GoDaddy Bowl, but he admitted there might be a few tricks up his sleeve.

“The problem with ‘hide the midget’ is it only works once. If you have your offense standing up with a guy hiding behind them, it’s pretty easy to spot what play your about to do,” he said. “But we’re going to try some trick plays, don’t get me wrong. If you look at the type of offense Coach Anderson runs, it’s high octane all the way. There’s going to be deep balls, you’re going to have people who are going to be able to do large go routes, and we’ll have a few big runs.”

To Bhardwaj, coaching a football team and running a tech business are not all that different from each other. Many of the ideas that he uses to run his own business carry over into the world of coaching a sports team.

“Weirdly surprising is that coaching and being a CEO are very similar. Half of my job is recruitment as well. I’m the small guy in this big pond. I live in Silicon Valley, which sucks, because when I send a job offer out there, their are eight other companies who can offer the exact same job offer, too,” Bhardwaj said. “It’s the same thing with coaching. You have to sell your recruits on this vision for the program. The way Coach Anderson commands the offense and staff is very similar to the way I conduct my staff meetings.”

Coach Bhardwaj is excited to coach the game, and will be hitting the field with the Red Wolves at 7 p.m. tomorrow at Centennial Bank Stadium.

“The main thing I’ve been telling the coaches and the athletic director is whatever I can do to help the program, let me do it,” Bhardwaj said. “Don’t mention Beyond Games or anything like that. I want to know how we can keep the focus here, so tomorrow should be an interesting day.”

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