850 Sports News Digest: Jon Bishop

The sport app's founder discusses his quest to 'get it right' on mobile and why introducing a MVP first is a great business tactic

Name: Jon Bishop
Company name: 850 Sports News Digest
Location: Greater London
Date launched: 23/03/15 
Website: www.850sportsapp.com

Tell us what your business does:

850 Sports News Digest is attempting to reinvent the way sports news is presented on your mobile phone.

The reports are written by our team of professional journalists with an editorial guideline that ensures the content is focused, simple and short, meaning you can catch up with the day’s sports news in 10 minutes – all on a beautifully designed and easy-to-use app.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

My now business partner, Neil Goulding, is a sports journalist and I am a big sports fan who is also passionate about doing things correctly on mobile. We have always debated about how sports could be reported on better and eventually I had a brainwave about how it could work on a mobile app. Three days of brainstorming our business idea and the concept was born.

How did you know there was a market for it?

The sports market is a huge and I started testing my hypotheses on sport interested friends, mainly by asking a lot of questions. We got great feedback and so we built an minimum viable product (MVP) which showed positive usage and also attracted an investor (another vindication that we had the right idea.)

What were you doing before starting up?

I was at one of London’s top start-ups, Funding Circle. They have a great team there and I learned so many lessons in that time that I now apply to my own start-ups. Before that I was at PayPal and eBay.

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

Yes, I started off my career with my own business and have always wanted to go back to being an entrepreneur with the right idea. Being at Funding Circle also reignited my start-up desire.

How did you raise the money?

We were very lucky to receive funding from the first investor we met with, which currently sits at $500,000. I told a friend of mine from the industry what I was up to and he introduced me to the CEO of iBus Media Group. They were looking to invest in sports news and they loved the idea enough to invest money and their resources into the project.

Describe your business model and how you make money:

Right now we are focusing on building a great experience for the users but there are many options to how we could monetize, the most obvious one being sponsorship and advertising. The sports market is an audience that many brands want to access.

What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

With any technical project, there are always challenges with building the model. You need to learn to be flexible and agile, and not obsess over rigid deadlines. There is also the challenge of prioritisation. There are so many features we want to be in the app for launch but if we waited for all of them to be built, we’d never launch.

So you have to learn to release it even if it’s at a stage that is not exactly where you want it to be. By accepting that building an app is a continuous journey and not a destination helps. Just keep releasing updates as often as you can and as the lean model suggests.

What was your first big breakthrough?

Definitely receiving funding, this has really helped us accelerate the progress and growth of the app.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

If you are seeking funding for your idea, I would highly recommend building an MVP first.

Investors invest in the product but also the team so showing them you have the knowledge and determination to invest your time and resources into building the first version will definitely impress investors more than showing them some slides on your idea.

Where do you want to be in five years’ time?

Covering every sport in every country in every language – we want to be global.

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