204: Austin Smith (Mission Control)

Austin Smith on Innovation City

“The experience is an experience of mistakes.” -Austin Smith

Welcome to Season 7 of Innovation City (The St. Louis Edition), a podcast featuring innovators, creators, and disruptors to discover how business is changing in the modern world.

Created and produced by SLAM! Agency and Aīre Ventures, 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.

Today’s guest is Austin Smith, founder and CEO of Mission Control, a community platform that organizes recreational esports. In this episode, Austin sits down with the team to discuss the tremendous growth in the esports industry, the power of human connection, and the challenges involved in the multi-player video game market.


They discuss:

  • Austin’s Superpower
    • Bringing people together
    • Austin did this as a kid growing up
  • What have you learned through your work with Mission Control about the power of human connection?
    • Humans get a warm fuzzy feeling when they’re invited to do something with someone. 
    • You need an excuse sometimes. Humans are busy, they’re always tired, when you have an “excuse” to get together, it helps. 
    • Rec league sports exist for a reason. 
  • E-Sports Opportunity 
    • There’s 170 million people who played multi-player pick up video games last year
    • 50 million people did traditional team sports
    • The only thing that e-sports hasn’t done yet is it hasn’t tackled the structure yet of scheduled dates and times. 
  • What is it about Mission Control that takes it to the next level?
    • Personalized experience for groups of friends
    • Mission Control organizes recreational e-sports for friends, businesses, government, and more
    • Mission Control provides the infrastructure.
  • Challenges and Obstacles 
    • The market needs to catch up. There are 170 million people playing multi-player video games. The people who organize traditional sports aren’t the ones who understand all the differences of e-sports. 
    • They’re trying to teach the market how to run things and that it’s worth while. 
    • There are a lot of differences between E-sports and sports. E-sports change constantly. 
  • Business Challenges of a Start Up
    • This was Austin’s first start up. 
    • “The experience is an experience of mistakes.” 11:34
    • One challenge was COVID. Their two-year runway happened in lockdown, and Austin gets energy from meeting people. 
    • Austin also suffered from imposter syndrome. He was 23 when he started this company. He let too much of the reigns go because he hired someone with more experience. 
    • Imposter syndrome manifests in many ways. 
  • What did you learn about yourself through your travel experiences?
    • He learned to sit back and enjoy. Culture is amazing. Just to be able to see how people bring joy to each other in different ways. 


Lightning Round:

  • A story about me I hope my kids will tell…
    • Tell a story about how I was part of building St. Louis to be a better place
  • When I was young I would spend hours daydreaming about…
    • Baseball
  • Something I would like to change about the way I deal with conflict…
    • More assertive
  • A person who doesn’t know they’ve impacted my life is…
    • St. Louis University community 


Get in Touch

Visit the Mission Control website

Connect with Austin on LinkedIn

Follow Mission Control on Instagram  and Twitter