Editor’s Note: Domer Diaries is the newest storytelling series from the Alumni Association where members of the Notre Dame family tell their stories in their own words. This week’s Domer Diaries entry comes from Ayden Syal ’17 and Brandon Wimbush ’19, co-founders of MOGL, a platform connecting collegiate and professional athletes with businesses and brands to safely and effectively monetize their name, image, and likeness, while also giving back to local communities. In January, MOGL was named one of 45 finalists for the 2022 SXSW Pitch startup event taking place March 12-13 in Austin, Texas.
Name: Ayden Syal
Class Year: 2017
Residence Hall: Sorin
Majors: Management Consulting and Sociology
Student Activities: Student International Business Council, Dorm Intramurals, Bookstore Basketball, Alpha Kappa Delta Honor Society
Occupation: Chief Executive Officer at MOGL
Location: New York City
Local Notre Dame club or affinity groups: Notre Dame Club of New York City; I am the East Regional Director for ND Young Alumni Board
Name: Brandon Wimbush
Class Year: 2019
Residence Hall: Stanford Hall
Major and Minor: Accountancy with a minor in Studio Arts
Student Activities: Notre Dame Venture Capital Club (formerly the Notre Dame Founders Fund), Varsity Football
Occupation: Chief Athletic Officer at MOGL
Share a little about MOGL, how it came to be, and what you and the company aim to achieve.
BW: MOGL is a safe and secure tech platform that allows athletes (college and pro currently) to connect to brands to maximize their personal name, image, and likeness opportunities. We empower athletes to serve as their own agent and take full ownership over their own brand. We offer tons of educational resources with the hopes of best positioning the athletes to maximize their individual values.
MOGL was born while Ayden was sitting idle at his desk in his finance role — a very rare occurrence. He was up-to-date on Governor Gavin Newsom’s latest rule implementation that would allow college athletes in California to make money come 2023. He began curating a 15-page business plan which turned into what we are doing today. Not much has changed, and that’s a testament to his vision for our company. I simply joined the ship to offer a very exclusive insight into the lives of college athletes. We wanted to build the ultimate product for the college athlete and that is the trek we are still on today. It’s been a lot of fun. It’s also been high-stress with the ever-evolving landscape of name, image, and likeness.
AS: After the initial business plan for a two-sided marketplace connecting athletes and brands was written, I began to have conversations with former and current collegiate athletes, brand marketers, sports tech executives, entrepreneurs, and developers to identify what it would take to build the platform and what features and functionality both parties would need in such a marketplace. Eventually one of the people that I reconnected with was Brandon, who was then at UCF preparing for the NFL Draft and whom I had originally met while attending rival high schools in New Jersey. I recognized that this product needed to be built with the athlete perspective at the forefront and Brandon was the perfect person to bring on board, not only given his experience as a high-profile recruit and college star, but also because of his innate ability to connect to others and because of our similarities in what we deemed the right way to build the platform.
MOGL was built to provide opportunities for all athletes regardless of sport, school, conference, and location, recognizing that all athletes provide unique value both to national brands for microinfluencing opportunities and to local businesses where they compete and where they grew up. The platform is different in that it was founded for athletes by athletes and ensures that all opportunities and parties are fully verified and compliant with NIL laws. Our motto at MOGL is “Get Paid, Build Your Brand, Make a Difference.” From Day 1, we sought to not only help athletes get paid and businesses build awareness, but most importantly to make a tangible impact in the lives of others. Through partnerships with organizations such as Every Kid Sports and Money Vehicle, we ensure that our athletes are educated, supported, and informed in this landscape and that their NIL activity directly impacts the communities in which they are competing.
Was there a formative moment in your time at Notre Dame that continues to influence you today? What was it?
AS: It's incredibly difficult to identify just one moment because I am constantly influenced, guided, aided, and supported by Notre Dame and the incredible people, lessons, and network that the school and place bestowed upon me. One specific experience that I will always carry throughout my career and everything that we do here at MOGL happened during senior year when I (somewhat unfortunately) finally began taking my courses in management consulting. To this day, my favorite academic experience at ND was in Professor Wendy Angst's Business Problem Solving class, not only because of the incredible lessons in how to take complex real-world business problems and provide innovative solutions but also because Wendy was such an incredible professor and mentor. Throughout everything that we have built at MOGL, that specific class and many of my classmates have continued to be incredible resources and support systems for us. Prior to entering that class and [my] innovation and design [class], I had never thought of myself as an entrepreneur, but more so as a somewhat typical undergraduate student destined for a role in finance and consulting. But Wendy and my experience in her class opened up my eyes to the possibilities.
BW: Running into [Global and U.S. Technology Leader at KPMG] Tim Zanni ’82 at the career fair. It was my first semester on campus. I was a lost freshman with no idea what I wanted to do academically. My godfather was an accountant and I knew accounting was one of the hardest subjects at Notre Dame to conquer. No football player does accounting. So I did accounting. I wanted to stand out. I wanted to be able to walk into any room and say that I graduated with my accounting degree. One day after a typical rainy South Bend October practice session, I decided to run back to my dorm room and throw on a suit. I heard there was a career fair and I didn’t want to miss it. I didn’t know I was going to be the only freshman football player (one of the very few freshman athletes in general) to attend the fair. I went up to the KPMG booth and that changed my life forever. I got lunch the next day with one of the partners of the firm and he set me on the business path that I’m on today and he currently is a great friend, mentor, and advisor to me and MOGL. [I’m] very grateful for that relationship.
When you go back to campus, what is on your itinerary and why?
BW: I try to do as little as possible so I can enjoy my time back on campus, but that never really happens. I am either in meetings with the athletic staff or in the local community given the nature of our business. I always enjoy my visits back to campus — especially game weekends. There isn’t anything better (besides celebrating a win against USC under the lights!).
AS: Besides taking advantage of $3 drinks at every bar — as cliche as it is to say, my first stop is always to the Dome. I was in Sorin throughout my time at Notre Dame and my window freshman year stared directly at the Dome. I have vivid memories of walking back in the early morning from the library and consistently being shocked at how magical the Dome and how the entire scene continues to look every time. Beyond the Dome, I am usually back for football games so I am in and around the tailgate lots and always am sure to make a trip to Evil Czech.