Sportpost.com: Peter Janes
Peter Janes on launching his own business after seven years as a sports agent
Company name: www.sportpost.com Website:www.sportpost.com Founders: Peter Janes Age: 28 Based: London Staff Numbers:10 Date started: May 2008 Turnover: £450,000
Tell us what your business does: Sportpost.com is Europe’s first sports specific web 2.0 site. Sportpost puts sports fans at the heart of the site and allows them to pull in all the best sporting content from around the world and share with friends and other users. The site promotes the best sports videos, blogs, debates and news and allows the fans to take charge and interact in a fun, independent environment.
Where did the idea for your business come from? The site mirrors successful models in the US such as Yardbarker and fannation.com which are solely focused on North American sports such as the NFL. Traditionally US digital media models are two or three years ahead of the rest of the world. The focus for Sportpost is on European and Asian sports especially football.
What were you doing before starting up? It was very hard to leave the security of my former job as a sports agent, but the contacts I made in the industry have been great for our work in promoting Sportpost. I previously worked for two of the biggest sports agencies in the world – IMG and the Wasserman Media Group.
Have you always wanted to run your own business? I have always had ideas and have an old scrapbook where I used to develop business plans and have always loved the buzz and excitement when you think you are on to something big. I left my old job as I have always wanted to make my own mark and take an idea on paper through to the end. Developing Sportpost and getting the funding we need has been the most rewarding experience of my life.
What planning did you do before you started up?We did a thorough market analysis of the sports digital space here in Europe before taking the idea forward. There is always competition no matter what you are doing, but we needed to develop the business model so that the site would perform better and offer an experience that sports fans here haven’t been offered before. Our business plan went through numerous pairs of eyes and the main change we made was in highlighting first off the massive potential there was in sports online. Investors won’t get excited unless they see within the first page that what you are offering as a business can only get bigger.
How did you raise the money? It was incredibly hard work, and we started in October 2008, the day the stock exchange really hit rock bottom. VC’s and private individuals at that stage were concentrating on their current investments and making preparations so that those investments would survive the worst of the recession. We have also been told that should you raise investment during this period it shows that the business model is strong and there won’t be much competition coming up behind us.
One of the three founders Paul also had a near death experience and broke his back in December 2008 whilst snowboarding. He was paralysed from the waist down and is fighting his way back to health. Losing a 1/3 of your resource instantly is very difficult to deal with, but attitude and drive are incredibly important to any start-up and we just wanted the business to be a success so that Paul could get back to work and start getting his life back together.
Where is your business based? It has been a home-based business for nearly a year until we moved into new offices together about three weeks ago. We utilised Skype and instant messenger a lot so we could get immediate responses from suppliers, and of course each of the founders. When you aren’t in the same office it’s difficult to keep productivity high so planning meetings and status reports are crucial so that everyone is fully aware of roles and responsibilities.
How much do you charge? How did you decide this?The site is 100% free to everyone. The site’s main priority is the fans and we then charge the brands and sponsors to be able to speak to this very targeted and valuable demographic that we have. The site is utilised by 18-35 males and it’s the perfect demographic for sports brands to put their products and services in front of.
What has your growth been like? The growth during the test site was pretty unique for a site that wasn’t marketing itself. All our growth came from word of mouth and through viral channels. The site was growing at a rate of 72% a month. We had 100,000 users after 5 weeks and by the end of the test site we had a quarter of a million users. We knew we had something big. After its full launch in December 2009 the site will be profitable by July 2010.
What’s the impact on your home life been like? It was very hard work not paying yourself for over 10 months especially being a London based company. You have to boot strap everything.