Michael Thompson Jr. (BBA 01) and Grant Joiner (BA 02) have always been friends. So when an opportunity to start a sports and entertainment marketing business came along the two became an explosive business team. Going from the Grove to the gridiron they have taken on an industry with a short fuse and competitive market. As the driving forces of Bottle Rocket Sports and Entertainment, these guys are starting out with a bang.
Their story begins at the University of Mississippi. Michael Thompson Jr., a Memphis native, and Grant Joiner, a native of Greenville, became fast friends and fraternity brothers both pledging Phi Delta Theta.
Showing a strong suit for the business world, both young men contributed to a number of university projects including Rebel Ride Trolley, Inc.
In 2001, Thompson graduated and moved to Atlanta in search of a career. After a long and unsuccessful search an opportunity presented itself.
“I was sick of waiting tables and wanted to start working during the day,” says Thompson.
Thompson took a job with the GEM group, a sports marketing firm, and began gaining experience in the fast-growing sector of sports marketing.
Meanwhile Grant Joiner was pursuing a career of his own. While at Ole Miss he spent a summer working in the White House as a liaison to the President. After graduating in 2002, Joiner traveled to Australia and earned a master’s degree in International Studies from the University of Queensland.
“If you get in and dig in, you can do anything you want to do,” says Joiner of his early accomplishments.
After graduate school, Joiner returned to the United States and to Ole Miss working in the Department of University Relations.
Two years later Michael Thompson would again be presented an opportunity, this time to start his own Memphis-based sports marketing division that would eventually become Bottle Rocket.
“Right then and there I knew, this is it,” says Thompson.
The name Bottle Rocket was inspired by the fast growing, cutting edge and fun industry of sports and entertainment marketing.
As Thompson began building his staff, he could think of no better man than Grant Joiner.
“I made it my goal to hire him,” recalls Thompson. “It was the easiest decision I ever made.”
Through a network of college friends Thompson and Bottle Rocket eventually hired Joiner.
“I looked at Bottle Rocket as a definite opportunity,” says Joiner. “I may never have had this job had I not gone to Ole Miss.”
And so in October of 2004 the Bottle Rocket group was complete. Now the company provides full service sports and entertainment marketing.
“We provide our clients with sponsorship consulting and match their brand with the right sports or entertainment vehicle,” says Thompson.
The Bottle Rocket team encourages their clients to use sponsorships as platforms for marketing initiatives. While becoming successful in such a short time they have amassed a network that includes clients such at First Tennessee, First Horizon and Team 16.
“Our number one goal is to take care of our clients,” says Thompson. ”They can contact us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”
Bottle Rocket’s commitment to their clients and success often make for long days and busy weekends. However, the two still visit Ole Miss and credit many of their achievements to their university experience.
“Ole Miss gave me the tools to enter the marketplace and the leadership skills to start something from scratch,” says Thompson.
Now in their third year of business with Bottle Rocket Thompson and Joiner are successfully giving their clients to chance to find partnerships that pop.