INDYCAR MEDIA CONFERENCE
September 14, 2018
Very interesting perspective in the world as we find it in today, 80% of the nation's fastest growing careers require skills from one or more STEM field. The advantage of the education system today is to take advantage of those who provide some significant quality opportunities for schools broadly defined and to be able to use platforms for social change to accomplish what we think is one of the biggest trends we have now in sports, in education, in life, and in business.
We'd like to introduce for a very short press conference the guys who are the principal founders or developers of this idea, Brian Cooley to my immediate left, and Dan Towriss. Brian Cooley is the president of Sports Entertainment EverFi, and Dan Towriss, Group One Thousand One, and Zach Veach of Zach Veach.
We'll go through the specifics of what we have to do in a very short order with a couple of questions, then leave time for your questions. Let me start with Brian Cooley.
EverFi is the leading education technology company providing learners of all ages and all education real world experience. They have 4200 partners in all 50 states and Canada. And for a little more information about who EverFi is, what the program is, why Group One Thousand One and why Zach, Brian Cooley.
BRIAN COOLEY: It's great to be here today. We're incredibly excited to be a part of this big launch today. EverFi is a digital education company. Our mission is to provide students with the critical skills that help them be successful in life. Today this program is all about STEM skills, helping kids understand the importance of math and science in terms of being able to take advantage of future career opportunities in technical fields.
We're incredibly grateful for Group One Thousand One support. It's phenomenal to be able to partner with Zach. Zach is a bright young star in auto racing. He is the very first auto racing athlete in any circuit who has his own STEM-based course in schools today.
We're going to be bringing this program to many schools across the country starting in five markets including many students from in and around the Sonoma area as well as the San Francisco Bay Area.
THE MODERATOR: Brian, a quick question on that. You obviously refer to Zach as up-and-coming, all of the accolades richly deserved. Tell us a little bit about who you work with now, how you got this deal put together, basically how this happens.
BRIAN COOLEY: Group One Thousand One has a real passion for giving back to the community, getting involved. Obviously they have this phenomenal sponsorship with the Andretti Autosport team and Zach. The hope for this program is to use Zach as a great model for students to learn by.
Not everybody is going to be an auto racing athlete, but there's an opportunity for them to learn about these exciting careers and really imagine a progressive and rich future for themselves in terms of taking advantage of these career opportunities.
Zach is amongst a number of athletes including Charles Barkley, Alex Ovechkin, Allen Houston, many other NBA and NFL players who are running programs like this. This is the first foray into auto sports for us. We're incredibly excited to go partnered with a gentleman as sharp and innovative as Zach.
THE MODERATOR: I can't wait to see the picture of Zach Veach and Charles Barkley in the same picture. Just saying.
Group One Thousand One is a customer-centric insurance holding company with combined assets under management of $36 billion, a mission to bring to market insurance and retirement products that empower consumers and the industry. Dan Towriss, the CEO, is a world class philanthropist as well.
Dan, talk about how you got involved in this.
DAN TOWRISS: At Group One Thousand One we believe in the power of sports and education is to empower individuals to succeed. We were year a year ago announcing Zach's deal. It was very exciting. We're excited to be here today to expand that endeavor.
We couldn't be happier with how that sponsorship has unfolded with just who Zach is, the success that he's had so far in racing.
Then also proud to be partnered with Brian Cooley and EverFi. When we saw the platform, what they can do in the educational sector, what they're able to offer kids, we saw it as a great partnership to bring Zach and EverFi together with the goal of empowering children, empowering kids, to succeed.
THE MODERATOR: You have a lot of other platforms as you grow your business. The Indy Women Tech golf championship, the Fields and Futures program, the Power Sports Show. All of it is synergistic. Explain your marketing strategy, how Zach fits in.
DAN TOWRISS: Absolutely. Really trying to bring together those two avenues. We see sports and education as a way to have tangible results as we look to build and support local communities, giving back. The word 'empowerment' is that people can become stronger, more confident, really kind of claim their goals and their dreams.
I think nothing exemplifies that more than Zach in terms of what he's done to accomplish the dreams in his life through racing that started a long time ago, and to see the work and effort that goes into that.
We want that to inspire other kids. If they put that same kind of effort into STEM-related careers, the sky is the limit, they too can reach their dreams.
THE MODERATOR: The mastermind of the Veach family, Roger Veach. Thank you for being here.
Zach has been basically racing since age 12, karting in his home state of Ohio before transitioning three years later. He's been with Andretti Autosport for a number of years, first on the karting side, now he makes his return as completing the first year behind the wheel of America's premier open-wheel series.
Excited to have you as a partner and friend in this venture. Tell us a little bit about the interest of this EverFi program and the platform it gives you.
ZACH VEACH: A lot of this just comes together as getting to meet people with the same vision and ideas. I was very lucky to meet Dan Towriss. A year ago we were announcing our full season of the rookie year in the IndyCar Series. We honestly got to meet Brian just a couple months before that.
I've always been passionate about trying to help kids, especially as they're making their way through the education program. I remember I was very lucky to have a couple special teachers when I was about 12 and 13 years old. They took my interest in motorsports and go-kart racing and used it for a couple different lesson plans to kind of help me get my mind swung around something.
I kind of started thinking back to that, how in the racecar and everything that we have here, all this has been put together by people that have had great careers in fields that involve STEM. I feel if we can create excitement around motorsports, around STEM itself, it's going to give kids more of an option to see the different futures they can possibly have, as well as getting kids developed into becoming more serious race fans.
THE MODERATOR: You're not shy, you are talented, articulate. The sky is the limit as far as racing is concerned. How does it feel to be the first driver of any kind in the United States to have a STEM-related education program devoted for you and this platform?
ZACH VEACH: It's incredibly special. We wouldn't be able to do this without the folks at EverFi and Group One Thousand One. We're extremely thankful to have this opportunity.
I look back at how much developing happens, the educational system, as you're trying to get through high school, figure out that one decision where you haven't really had responsibilities your whole life, you're 18, decide what you want to do for the rest of your life.
I'm hoping this kind of program gives kids more of an insight on the many different career paths that STEM is going to be a part of. If anything, just get their feet wet, maybe create new race engineers or even race drivers.
I mean, so much goes into this from so many different backgrounds. We all come to this single point because we're passionate about something. I think creating passion in young students is the most important thing we can be doing.
THE MODERATOR: Those of us who know you, people that know Zach, you have anti-bullying issues, texting issues, perseverance issues. You also have to finish the season unscathed. You have Andretti Autosport, all their issues. First of all, what is the balance like? How do you know how to maintain balance? What has the first year been like?
ZACH VEACH: It's been fantastic. It's something you can never really expect until you find yourself 16 races into a 17-race season really. Community is such a big thing that we wanted to focus on. I'm so happy to get this program rolling, especially at the end of my rookie year.
This year has been a little more invested into the driving side than the outreach programs just because this is a new chapter, it's so much learning to be competitive in the Verizon IndyCar Series.
Luckily every single weekend it keeps getting easier and easier. I'm hoping we can grab another Fast Six this weekend and finish on the podium if not go for a win. It's such a methodical approach this year, just learning. I'm hoping that's the same approach kids will get to have with EverFi.
THE MODERATOR: To go around a track at 200 plus miles an hour, I've never heard it described as getting easier and easier. You can put some perspective on it that nobody has had.
ZACH VEACH: It's like anything else: the more you do it, the secondhand it becomes, just becomes nature. With IndyCar, so much that you're learning not only from a driving side but a technical side.
I feel like my STEM education has started over in IndyCar, because the diverse amount of settings we can change on the IndyCar itself. You go from Indy Lights where we have one engineer and two mechanics for an entire season, to IndyCar where I have about four different engineers behind the scenes, 10 different mechanics. We can literally sit down and talk for eight hours straight of possible changes from the test day yesterday to what we'd like to try in 45 minutes today.
So much goes into it that that's just what I want to share with people.
THE MODERATOR: Easy if you say so.
Q. This digital platform, who is developing it? Do you have a cooperation with universities or engineers? How do you personally get involved with this program? What is your background about this?
BRIAN COOLEY: At EverFi, our motive of learning is we deliver game-ified learning environments. Think about us as a video game environment that is built around education, so helping students really build skills by experientially learning.
In the case of this particular program with Zach, Group One Thousand One, it is helping students understand different careers in STEM. The program is embedded into schools, 25,000 schools across the country is our entire network. For this particular program we'll be in five cities to begin with.
Really the hope is to be able to grow this. It is directly embedded into school curriculum, so students are actually using this course during the day, they're taking it home. The idea is that we're going to really customize it with a message from Zach. Zach will be able to visit schools who are using this program.
Today is really just the start. We'll be in many schools over the next couple years. Hopefully bringing Zach into Indianapolis schools and other cities in and around the San Francisco Bay Area. That's really how the program works.
Q. What is the background?
BRIAN COOLEY: We are an education technology company. I've been involved in education technology for about 18 years. I think what we've seen in this country and many other countries is that technology is the great innovator when it comes to helping students think about how they can really learn, how they can build skills for the future.
We're a company of 550 people. Really excited to be a part of this program.
Q. You go away from the classical schoolbook more to computer technology?
BRIAN COOLEY: It's a great question. Really all of our programs are co-curricular, which means they are embedded into the classroom. Teachers use it alongside typical course plans that they're working on. Really a program like this augments what teachers are doing in schools.
For us, teachers are the center of our universe. The goal is to provide them with skills to help them make STEM careers more available for students, help them immerse them in that technology.
Q. A little ignorant to be asking a question. What is STEM? Can you break that down into the acronym it is, what it actually means?
BRIAN COOLEY: It's a great question. STEM is really an acronym for science, technology, engineering and math. Really the goal is if you can get students at a young age to really focus on the importance of math and science, it dramatically opens up their opportunities to taking advantage of technical careers, whether that's becoming an engineer, coder, a doctor. It is something that's very popular in schools.
Many schools are also a big fan of the STEAM, which is STEM plus arts, as well.
THE MODERATOR: STEM is one of the core principles, Dan, for you as well. I know you underwrite and are involved in the Indianapolis Women and Tech Championship. A lot of the proceeds and interest goes to STEM there. Talk about that for a second.
DAN TOWRISS: That program in particular focuses on young girls in elementary and middle school ages. From there we took a focus into robotics. Again, looking for avenues where kids can have a greater interest in these subject matters, not just see it as the word 'science' or 'engineering' and 'math', but understand it means something in the context of robotics or in the context of racing, something that sounds exciting and fun. They see the application in the education and not just a schoolbook where they say how am I going to use this someday, why will I need this. They understand because you're going to need it to understand how to program a robot, how to understand to make the racecar faster, and many, many other applications.
It's the reason why it's such a fast-growing field in terms of job expansion, the kind of skills that people are going to need for future roles.
You have to go back to the kids to make it all happen.
THE MODERATOR: Brian, so you can see the reaction of kids as they're exposed to this type of learning as opposed to when I would guess you and I had to take chemistry or memorize math tables. I was always sick those days. Give us a chronology about what's happening today.
BRIAN COOLEY: So today is really exciting. We have about 35 students from a local school district actually joining us. Immediately following this press conference we're going to be taking them into the garage where they will actually meet some of the engineers who are operating the vehicle today. They're going to have an opportunity to meet Zach, hear about his background a little bit, hear about how he's thinking about the race over the next couple days. Then also they'll be stopping at the Honda Performance Center, they'll be going to the Firestone area. The idea is to immerse students in a tactile learning experience today. Hopefully it's going to be fun for these kids, open up some eyes about seeing some of the most unbelievable technology there is to offer today.
THE MODERATOR: As we wrap-up, Zach, pressure, nothing to compared what's happening on Sunday, anything you want to add? You get the final word, understanding that we've already satisfied the timing.
ZACH VEACH: No, I mean, overall I just want to thank everyone for being here, especially Brian and Dan for being a part of this, allowing me to be kind of the face to introduce kids a little bit to my world. So much has been achieved this year just from the side of learning as a young driver in IndyCar. That's the one thing that Mario Andretti always told me: every single time you're in a racecar you should learn something new that helps you the next day. Not only true in my sport, but kids going to school. Every single day we can allow them to learn something new and unique that gets them excited about the learning aspect itself, it's a great thing. With EverFi, the program they've put together, that's exactly what we're doing. I'm excited to see it in the school, excited to see how it reacts.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports