158: Khalia Collier (St. Louis Surge)

Khalia Collier on Innovation City

“Don’t just play the game, change it.” – Khalia Collier

Welcome to Season 3 of Innovation City, a podcast featuring innovators, creators, and disruptors to discover how business is changing in the modern world.

Created and produced by SLAM! Agency in cooperation with Venture Cafe St. Louis and Venture Cafe Miami, Innovation City gives you an inside look at how rapidly business and culture are changing thanks to increasing diversity and inclusion, heightened creativity, and a stronger and better-connected business community. Venture Cafe is the largest combined gathering of entrepreneurs and innovators anywhere in the world. Events are held every Thursday in St. Louis, Miami, and other leading innovation cities around the globe.

Today’s guest is Khalia Collier, Owner & General Manager of the St. Louis Surge, the first women’s sustainable basketball franchise in the Gateway City. Khalia was born and raised in St. Louis, and has turned her lifelong love of the game of basketball into an entrepreneurial journey. In this episode, Khalia sits down with the team to discuss what it’s like being a young, Black, female sports team owner, owning the responsibility of making an impact on her community, what’s next for the Surge, and much more!

They discuss:

  • Falling in love with basketball and the business of sports
  • What is St. Louis Surge?
    • First women’s pro team to make a consistent impact
    • Started in 2011
    • Being a women’s professional basketball in a baseball city
    • Tapping into an untapped market
  • Redefining the role of women in sports
    • “We exist to make community impact and a byproduct is we win games.”
  • Overcoming early challenges
    • Being young, a woman, and Black
    • Defying odds
    • Gaining corporate support
    • Obtaining funding
  • Advice to future entrepreneurs: stay the course
  • Why St. Louis?
    • Khalia was born and raised here
    • St. Louis has so much potential
    • Transcending race
    • St. Louis is becoming more progressive
  • What’s next for the Surge?
    • Continue trajectory and momentum
    • Women leading by example
    • Building a business takes time
    • Recognizing that it’s a journey
  • Not having to be a “60-year-old white guy” like other sports team owners
  • Imposter syndrome
  • Basketball is important but community impact is vital
    • Camps, clinics
    • Involved in schools
  • Her family and friends reaction to her starting a professional sports team at the age of 23
    • Initial shock, but they are her biggest support system
  • Get in touch: @KhaliaCollier and @STLSurge on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter; or visit stlsurgebasketball.com

Lightning Round:

  1. How do you show love to others?
    • Hugs. During the pandemic, virtual hugs and fist bumps.
  2. What question would you ask a fortune teller?
    • Am I going to be as successful as I think?
  3. What is most important to you?
    • My family, my friends, my community
  4. What is one of the kindest things someone has ever done for you?
    • Believe in me
  5. Where have you found peace?
    • On the basketball court, working out, and being by myself
  6. What do you want to let go of?
    • Stress
  7. What is your perfect day?
    • Surge game day. That’s my Disney World.
  8. What does a game day look like?
    • Fans walk in the door, I’m greeting and welcoming everyone. Face paint. Photo ops. The experience of the game, nearly courtside. Live DJ. Kids, families, all ages having fun and smiling.