Conference Speakers

Call for Speakers

Van Petten Group is seeking speakers for the ESTA Inaugural Conference to be held April 6-7, 2020, in Chicago, IL. We are seeking speakers that are leaders in this booming field – those who work in the industry and would like to share their expertise and experience at this exclusive show. The conference agenda topics have been determined. We are seeking speakers to present regarding these pre-selected agenda topics. Please review our conference agenda topics, if you would like to speak on any of these topics, please email us at

This inaugural event will be the official public launch of the ESTA with the goal of bringing together key stakeholders, business executives, and leaders in the esports industry from around the nation to network, learn from each other and discuss the future of esports. We anticipate approximately 100-300 individuals in attendance.

Conference Speaker Bios

John Davidson

Production Resource Group (PRG)
Director of Business Development, Esports

John has a diverse professional background including skateboarding, business development, video production, and marketing. After pursuing his dream as a professional skateboarder, John went back to school to receive his bachelor’s degree in marketing from California State University, Sacramento.

After graduating, John joined a friend in Dallas, TX to launch a startup animation studio. Over five years, they grew the studio to a team of seven, working with top brands including Nike, MTV, Rob Dyrdek, Vans, Fox Sports and ESPN. John then went on to join The Marketing Arm and produce live-action and animation for AT&T, Nissan, Goodyear, and Topgolf.

John also led non-endemic partnerships and the esports strategy for GameStop, the world’s largest specialty gaming retailer. His experience within subcultures and leading a brand in this space brings a unique perspective, informing non-endemics how to effectively enter and add value to the esports community.

Today John leads esports business development for Production Resource Group (PRG), the world’s leading entertainment and event tech solutions company, providing turnkey services for concerts, TV/Film, corporate, events, trade shows & more.

Donny Neufuss

Brightline Interactive
Senior Vice President of Corporate Partnerships

Donny works at Brightline Interactive as the Senior Vice President of Corporate Partnerships. Brightline Interactive is a team of creative technologists that design, build, and install interactive and virtual reality experiences at events, permanent display areas, and simulation environments. Brightline CREATIONS are engaging, scalable, and contagious.

  • For fan engagement, they prolong consumer-to-brand conversations.
  • For simulation and training, they immerse users in photorealistic, sensor-enabled virtual reality.
  • For recruitment, they engage athletes with creative technology and their mobile devices.

Donny started his career working in the music industry in late 2001. Donny worked on developing new online technologies with partnering companies that helped promote and discover new talent. Some of the companies Donny worked with included Guitar Center, Avid Systems, Warner/Chappell, Billboard, Academy of Country Music, MTV, Oxygen Network, USA Network, Lifetime, New Line Cinema, Sony, Peavey, Yamaha, Electro-Voice (EV), Shure, IK Multimedia, PreSonus, Korg, and CAD Microphone.

Donny then went on to work in the video streaming industry to help some of the largest corporations and associations adopt online video for their events. It was during this time that Donny formed a partnership with Production Resource Group, one of the largest entertainment and event Technology Companies in the world. Donny then went on to work at Production Resource Group and lead the strategy for the eSports Vertical Market as well as lead the PRG Digital Engagement Services at PRG. This team provides the latest digital solutions for the association, corporate, entertainment industries.

Roger Payne

The Marketing Arm (TMA)
Director, Research Analytics

Payne’s career is dedicated to showing brands the impact their marketing and sponsorship efforts have on the sports and entertainment industries. Spending money is great but what does it all mean? Is it positively impacting the business? Payne works to ensure the insights are concise and practical for application by key brand executives. 

Payne’s career began in Chicago with Navigate Research as the first employee. After five years of growing the agency in headcount, clients, and offices, Payne joined Killerspin Table Tennis. While at Killerspin, Payne managed all brand and sponsorship projects, including sponsored players. His success led to also overseeing manufacturing partnership and streamlining the introduction of new products, leading to time spent in Europe and China. 

Currently, Payne leads research and measurement initiatives for The Marketing Arm’s sports and entertainment clients, focused on showing the impact of sponsorship and marketing programs on the key business drivers for brands. His team’s work has led to a streamlined measurement approach resulting in quicker and more consistent data reporting and provides client executives with important information for crucial partnership decisions. 

Throughout Payne’s career, he has experience with brands such as AT&T, State Farm, and Mercedes Benz Australia, leagues including the NFL and MLS, the NCAA and major universities, agencies such as AEG and Wasserman, and government organizations including the British Airport Authority and Chinese Table Tennis Association.

Outside of work, Payne is focused on his family – a wife and two small children – and involvement in other organizations including the Navy Pier Associate Board and National Parkinson’s Foundation Moving Day Chicago.

Greg Kirkorski

Stadia Ventures

As Executive Vice President Americas, Greg most recently oversaw Perform Group’s commercial content licensing strategy and execution. He oversaw a team managing business activities supporting traditional media, emerging technology, pro sports teams/properties, fantasy sports operators, betting platform providers, and sportsbooks.

Previously, Greg led STATS LLC for the past 20 years as Senior Vice President of Sales and Global Partnerships. In his role, Greg had responsibility for Sales, Marketing and Revenue Operations.  This included oversight for all commercial revenue, sales-related systems, processes, training, and marketing communication. Greg helped transition STATS from a U.S. sports data provider to a global leader in sports analytics, content, and software.

Greg founded and developed strategic partnerships consisting of ESPN, Verizon/Yahoo, NBC/Comcast, CBS, Fox Sports, The Score, Rogers, Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Snap, Televisa and Globo, along with hundreds of multi-sports team and league partnerships.

Greg holds a Bachelor of Science in Communications and a Master of Science in Sports Management from Illinois State University.  Greg participated on the Advisory Board for both the Sports Business Program in the John Cook School of Business at St. Louis University and the DeVos Sport Business Management Program at the University of Central Florida. He is currently an advisor for Stadia Ventures, in St. Louis, MO.