I'd love to help people thinking of starting a business. I don't claim to know it all, but I can listen to ideas over a coffee and have an opinion.We also have some great internship opportunities, with great full-time roles for the right candidates; of our team of 10, 2 joined us as interns, proved their value and are now core full-time members of the team.
After more years than I care to remember number crunching and living in MSExcel, I decided it was time to escape my hum drum accountancy day job and focus on my one main passion in life: sports.
There had never been somewhere that I felt satisfied all my needs as a sports person, so I decided to build a great team and set about making http://tribesports.com/" rel="nofollow">Tribesports.com
I'd love to help people thinking of starting a business. I don't claim to know it all, but I can listen to ideas over a coffee and have an opinion.
We also have some great internship opportunities, with great full-time roles for the right candidates; of our team of 10, 2 joined us as interns, proved their value and are now core full-time members of the team.
I’m CEO at http://www.tribesports.com." rel="nofollow">tribesports.com. We were in build phase for over a year, before launching our product at the beginning of June 2011.
There really is no day-to-day in my role leading the founder team and now wider team of employees and interns.
It might be investor calls (current and future), working with our quant guys analysing user and sales data, working with our CTO prioritising projects for the tech team to work on, or planning and executing our marketing and commercial plans with our Commercial Director.
It's like spinning 20 plates, except no-one taught you how to spin plates - you just have to learn it quick, or you'll drop them!
Oh, and I like to run or cycle to work, and get in as much exercise as I can. And the odd cheeky marathon!
Graduating with a History BA from Sheffield, I followed the road well travelled, and joined one of the big 4 accountancy firms, Ernst & Young LLP, in London. I was lucky enough to earn my ACA, be well graded, and make Manager, working on some fantastic, high profile clients.
But I couldn't help but feel the urge to join the other side, wanting to help create something; to do something forward-looking, rather than audit and review someone else's work.
I left to work in finance at IMG Media, working in sports and with the agents that were buying and selling media rights to football teams and national leagues and federations. I had a TV in my enormous office and had very regular hours; I should have been delighted, but still, there was an urge to do something more.
So after 2 years, I left to take the relative risk of joining an internet start-up, http://mydeco.com/" rel="nofollow">mydeco.com, heading up Finance. A dynamic, fun environment with a great learning curve, but still, I wanted more from my career - something I could shape and drive to success.
When I left audit and started working in the business side, I thought that I would feel fulfilled - that I was creating something that made a difference.
But really, all I was doing was plugging numbers into spreadsheets, and even in a dynamic business, my life was ruled by routine; and I never really had that feeling that I was making a difference and doing something special.
The moment of truth, so to speak, was when working the day job, but also training for Ironman France in 2008; a friend got inspired by what I was doing, and entered too. Let's just say you wouldn't expect it of him!
Having already done Ironman Brazil in 2006, the difference of sharing the experience with him was incredible - making the training and the day itself social - sharing the fears, expectations, training, new kit, and finding advice on random websites and the odd YouTube clip.
I couldn't find a platform to make sports social... The seed was set - why didn't I do it myself and give others the benefit?
So the seed set in 2008. I then took a reasonably sensible approach and continued working the day job for another 18 months, learning as much as I could from those around me, knowing that one day I would be doing it on my own!
Then on 1st January 2010, New Years resolution time, I said, "Enough planning, enough thinking/learning – just do it!"
Resolution: Start business, get funding, build product!
I worked my network and within a month I had a small core team; and within two months I had the extended team working evening & weekends.
Working a day job whilst building the business was seriously tough, and my passion now sat solely on focussing on Tribesports. I quit in March, without funding for the business. Pressure was on!
I closed our first round of funding from an angel in May, also taking out a personal loan to put money in. The rest of the team were then able to quit roles, and by July we had 5 of us working full or part time on the site.
Well, negatives first - I think as an entrepreneur, if you're not surrounded by others, you can get a lot of unintentional negative sentiment (which I think is partly a British thing). I had a hugely supportive family and friendship group, but in general, most people I met before I took the jump suggested doing it part time, or told me not to risk the day job.
I think that there is a stubbornness in me that says the more I am told not to do something, or the harder it seems, the more I want to do it. I'd never done a triathlon before and couldn't swim 25m front crawl before I signed up to Ironman Brazil - so if you want to do something, just do it!
Positives - too many to list. The feeling of getting up in the morning and going to work for your business in a sector you love, and working with amazing people who are passionate about what their doing, and most of all, building and creating something - and seeing people enjoy it - is priceless.
The best advice I had was from the people that I spoke to before quitting and going for Tribesports full time. They ran me through a checklist almost to make sure I really knew what I was getting myself in for:
Answering yes to all of them, I thought it worth the jump.
And I recently heard this, which I definitely buy into: Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won't, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can't.
Knowing your industry and solving a problem you have, and then bouncing that idea off people you know have also shared your problems before to see what they think has been the most useful.
We also stayed in closed beta for a while, and even once open, we haven't done a marketing push yet because we are learning so much from our early adopters - saving us a fortune building features or things that people don't want.
I initially thought that building an internet business, you need to be on top of tech press/blogs. But actually this takes a huge amount of time, and really, who are you building for? You are building for your users, so use resources relevant to them. Internally, it is great for the team to have one eye on these tech things, so long as the core focus of your business, and how you reach your end game users and grow your site/brand, is front and centre.