Average to Savage
Average to Savage

Episode · 3 years ago

Ishveen Anand | Average to Savage EP47

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

This is the forty-seventh episode of the Average to Savage podcast featuring entrepreneur Ishveen Anand. Paul Guarino talked with Ishveen Anand discussing her time at Oxford, working in the sports world in many different roles, and the rise of her company Opensponsorship. Follow Ishveen Anand www.instagram.com/ishveenj www.instagram.com/Opensponsorship

This is the average to savage podcast with Paul Greno, everyone in, anyone, athletes, suebs and much more. WHAT'S UP, everybody? On back for another episode of the average savage podcast. Or special guest today CEO and founder of open sponsorship, Ishvine. On in. Is You redne? How's it going? Good things. How are you fall? Good, thanks for coming on. Yeah, my fins, that's just jump right into it. Could you give people a little introduction by yourself? Yes, sure, as you mentioned them to see a kind of open sponsorship. We are a two sided marketplace connecting brands with athletes, teams of the events, but predominantly athletes, and a lot of our clients call as a matchcom of sport sponsorships and really quick people we say, well, how did you get into it? So I grew up in England and the accent I was a management themselves and graduates on walks feed and realize that two is into my career that supports had always been my passion. I played a lot growing up and wanted to get back into it and say became a sports agent. Loved sponsorship at the formal boxing thought the process to get deals done with a little bit archaic, and so that the company to folter. Yeah, for sure. And to go back a little bit, I know you graduated from Oxford and two thousand and six and I saw you had a few jobs. And then what made you get into sports world? Yeah, it's interesting. I think when you're growing up you see your passions almost full time. So you know, you kind of go to school, but if you play sports like that's really the focus for you and and schooled kind of in the background and you kind of have to do it. And then when I started working, I mean I love my job, I love the team, I was working with, the people, but I wasn't used to not playing sports for probably like three hours a day, and so I was like wait, like this is really weird, like I've basically I'd not really thought about how bigger part of my life playing sports was and how much it made me but being in this job made me realize that. You know, I felt like I was missing out by not being on the field all the time and not being surrounded by the kind of the athletic nature of you I was. And so I really wanted to actually get into sports policy and get more young Indian girls playing sports or, you know, in kind of community and whatever else. And someone told me that to get into sports you really have to understand how to monetize, and in America that means for a lot of young people doing ticket sales. But take yourselves is not as big in England, and so you really they go into media, like media sales are you go into sponsorship sales, and so I went into sponsorship kind of the rest is history. Yeah, absolutely, and I know you were going as a sports agent for cricket. Right. I did quite a lot of sports, but cricket was like a big focus. God just how that come all up? Yeah, seeper random and I don't want if I'm going to make this one career change, why not make too? And so decided to move to India. I found a kind of very small start up, but or some company, kind of great CEO and was connected through a friend. Reached out you offer me a job. I've never even met him. I was still living in London. He was obviously in Delhi in India and saw something and kind of offered me a role. So I'll find move to India to pursue this kind of career and for cricket sponsorship ratually sure. How did you get the idea for orbitsonship? Did all this work while you were doing all those jobs? Is that how it manifest yeah, you know, usually with idea it's not like one moment where there was but it's really accombination of like tons of different thing. So, you know, one thing for me was Havn't grown up in England and then I was working in India, but because of the nature of sport, especially cricket, I mean I was doing tournaments in West indies and Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and South Africa and it really is, I put the sport is global, yet...

...the deals we were doing was pretty India heavy and so I really thought, you know, why are we not doing more global cross boarder deals? And at that time it just wasn't really a thing. I mean it seems like Manchester United we're doing the world, but like really no one out. So that was a seed that got planted. And then we reach out the companies and talk to them about doing sports and I used to represent a few athletes as well. Got To day and it's always the same companies with call for them, like the pepsis or the rebox and I wasn't that. Why don't we go to new companies and you hear the same thing, like, oh, we don't do sports, is too expensive and all of these a misconceptions. And so really, when I had the idea of open sponsorship, it was because I was using a the NB is in my personal life. I was obviously using linkedin and all of these other auto marketplaces and I thought, why is it not something like this or industry, where you get rid of all of these like misnomers and everything is just so transparent and Easyfe I mean I think when I found out at all when sponsorship I thought it was like one of those wide and I think about it and do you explain how open sponship would yeah, sure, so think of us. I'd say that we've done we've taken a lot of lessons from recruitment. I think most people equipment, although week or so, was much stockom that really recruitment. So back in the day, if you were a company looking to hire someone, you'd have to go through your network of employees. Maybe you've had conters as an External Agency and maybe you've got a little bit of inbound, but it wasn't really that. The same thing for sports, where you know, if you're a big brand or any company and you're thinking about using an athlete, good luck kind of getting started. Maybe you know someone who knows someone. What you went to a confidence that you let someone or kind of it's very, very random, and we thought, well, we must is more stream language to do this. So we did two things. One is we have an amazing search engine. So the same way for recruitment, I can now go on Linkedin and built to buy location and how many years have they been in the workforce and title, and do they say that they're an athlete in their bio or whatever? The same way for with open sponsorship, our brands can governments our system and they can say, all right, give me athlete who are Vegan, the word Tusue on social media, who have a demographic following that's mostly female or male, that's eighteen to twenty, four lives in California, and I also want someone who's social media engagement is over three percent and they must be in this stage dream. So really like all of these criteria come together to give you this really powerful search. And what really that has done is, if we speak to any company, be to be be to see any industry and they say, well, are ask these relevant to ours? We should say will look. There's not at least one athlete who's not talking about Bitcoin, a security or tooth brush or SIACIS or whatever it is that we're trying to sell or kind of what they're interested in. So that's one side. And then the second side, again very similar to recruitment, is, rather than you trying to figure out which act is the best for you, why not just put up a campaign which we call similar to a job posting that just says we're looking to athletes who are interested in Xyz, you know, who have a pair, who dream, who are going to go to the Mauritius this year or whatever it may be. This is what we're offering, this is what you want to do and hate tell us and apply to us. And what this is really done is for supports, agents particularly, and athletes. It's really help them to get their a minors. Maybe they're not biggest guys in front of these brands in a way that they never thought they could before. That's fine, definitely awesome platform. And how do you get athletes and brands to sign up? It's a little bit from both sides. So, you know, at the beginning, when we started, we really focused on the athletes and teams and events and we, you...

...know, we wanted to get some scale. Once we got to about a thousand we were like cool, I think we have enough. Let's go and get brands. And since then it really has been the big focus has been on brands. A the brands pay as a membership to be on the platform and secondly, as I'll be in the brands of the ones who are paying the athletes. So what now? I mean now we're about five and a half thousand athletes and for us today, the brands. We you know, we have an inside Bale team. That awesome. They really all about educating brands. You know, we work with companies who never, you know, never thought they'd be doing sports and we tell them this is how you're going to do sports and we help them out. And then, as and when we need more athletes, that when we get a lot of organically athletes and agents signing up. For example, we had someone recently who wanted disabled athlete who are skiers of a winter sport, athletes who are disabled. You know, we don't have a lot of that to will go out and we'll go and recruit more. Our theats and agency represent them, but to mostly we have enough of both that we can just keep growing the brand side. They're definitely not going back to like the development process, like what was it like to create the website and what was your vision for the website? Yeah, that one's interesting. I mean for me it was like being the exist like it. Let's let's do something like I vmb and, you know, learn how to do some wiy frames. FANSOM, the technical guy who started as out, and we just let going. And then really it was only in two thousand and sixteen we brought on someone who was a front end guy, like a uiux person, and that's when I really understood how important it was to think about usability. And it's not just about having functionality and being like well, I can meet be we've built what we wanted. It's really about but is this a nice way for people to me? Is it easy to use? Is it simplistic? Does it look good like is this some whether people want to spend their time? And I think I didn't quite have an appreciation at the beginning of how much, you know, using a website is like the same decision as anything else. Like you wouldn't work clothes you don't enjoy, you don't use websites you don't enjoy. But when you know that you have like a business like a creek swift, where it's not very nice usability, but it's free, which is why you use it and be really such your need. But for ours. What I really realized that, and it was like two thousand and sixteen, was we need to build something that people are going to enjoy using and unlog into every day. There's one. I mean it's all about, you know, trial here and there's I know this is your fifth year of the company. So what's the biggest difference between when you first started in now? Yeah, it doesn't feel like five years. I'd say the first year and a half. I mean up until two thousand and sixteen, January, as a first time tech entrepreneur, I literally had no idea what I was doing. It was pretty new to America fe it was new to American sports. Theos need to building a tech company. So I'd say I understand why I founders go on to do second businesses, because you learned so much you almost want to do it again, just so that you could like cut the crap to the other. So the first year and a half you could basically write off as just like going through school, of making mistakes. And then it was really January two thousand and sixteen we got into five hundred startups the accelerator out in San Francisco and I was like this is not like some sort of art where to kind of figure out yourself, like there is a science to running a startup and you've got to do things the right way and there's you know, there's a rule book and obviously there are nuances for industry and for company, but there really is a right way to do it. And so I would say when we think about our company life, it really started in two thousand and sixteen and ever since then, what would I say have learned? Is, one, you've got to be aggressive, you've got to be outside of your comfort zone. You have to make sure you're team is aggressive. Often there's a really fine balance between you should definitely take time to celebrate your milestones and be like, okay,...

...you know, we did this, let's let's celebrate it. At the same time, you can never be stagnant and at the beginning I think there was an element of like not firing things on all solander's like we really worked on product but we didn't think about sales as much. And then now it's like that fine bounces, like we're really focused on sales, but we mustn't stop thinking about product. And I'd say the biggest learning I've had is that you can't relax on on either front. Definitely. And how many athletes and brands are you workers before? I know you have some, I guess some mode numbers. Yeah, I mean we think is one deals for us as a little over a thousand, as big as I rob Punkowski, Draymond Green, Todd Girley and Jordan Talksin and then in the non major sports, Julia Mancudo, like Arit that just recently retired, like what some skier that name of Texans who won the US Open Tenor William mcder who's a golfer. So some really great names. And I think we've done deals across about twenty five sports brands we've worked with start two hundred and fifty brands that we've done deals for. As big as I can unhiser Bush for eyes and draft kings, but then all the way down to, I mean kind of mom and pop shop charity. These start top companies that you definitely wouldn't have heard of unless you're in the same spacism. Yeah, yeah, definitely in what was like the turning point where you guys got like, I know you said two thousand and sixteen, but like what was like almost when you like grew, like, because I seen you've been growing and grown. Yeah, I would actually say two thousand and sixteen was, you know, we raised some money, we brought on a couple of people. Two thousand and seventeen was we really like went back to the drawing board for product, which is when I said, like I think we should have focused a bit more on sales. If I could go back and do it again, you know, we were such a small team and protests the focus. Two Thousand and eighteen was really the year where we were like, oh, we had something here, like, you know, we've got some scale. We bought on two amazing advisors, those who work up up spot pretty seeing you that, and they really made us realize, I okay, this is again how you build a sales org. And I'd say two thousand and eighteen in the laptops and eighteen was really a big turning point for us and and this year it's all about, okay, how quickly can we? Can we get to that next mileth phone? Yeah, and I think like obviously social media just keep going, getting bigger and bigger. So I'm sure that also, and I saw you got named thirty under thirty Forbes in two hundred fifteen. So what was that like? It was good. It was really early on those. So it was interesting because I think it almost meant that we got some like notoriety when literally, I think I'll what I had launched a week before. It was really good. Personally, as a company, I thinks, really ready for it, and I always say like thirty on the thirday. I feel like, if I guess, stamp of potential, and then I always joke at forty on the forty, like you have to have made it to be on that list. And so it was nice to be recognized for like obviously the work I've done before and in you're in England and cricket and what open sponsorships could be. Yeah, but I always say, like, you know, there's a long way to go when you get on that thirty on the thirty left still. Yeah, definitely, and have you ever thought about, I think you guys might do it already, but getting more like social media influencers on your on your website? Yeah, I think my back grammar sports and, to be honest, the cause of sponsorship, because, I mean, as you know, sponsorship has existed many, many years before influence, the marketing and even social media came around, and so the problem was trying to solve. As I says, like you know, the sports, media entertainment world is it's a hugely powerful world. I mean just look at the calendar right now. I we went from Super Bowls all style grammy's Oscars. I mean, like...

...these are amazing people that have been very protected from the everyday brands. And Yeah, I like to get the story that, thanks to social media today, as a fan of sports or music or, you know, an actor, you are so connected to your celebrity or to your icons, right you you know what time they wake up, what they were, what they eat, and there's so much that you know about them and you feel close to them and maybe you could even like comment on their pictures, right or dum them whenever. As a business, nothing has changed. I could probably DM them. But look, if you're talking to Christian are now those who's got like millions of followers. Are Even an NFL play? You as like a couple hundred thousand. If I dm you, the chances are you're not responding right. And so our whole thing is that the sports and entertainment world, the same way that social media has brought bands closer to you, we are open sponsorship. Want to bring business is close to you and it's a two way stream. Because today, when you think about athletes or musicians, whether it's for money and revenue or whether it's brand building, whether it's integrating into society, like you hear about athletes and you know the average age of the time and as like thirty. What are they doing after that? Well, if they've been connected to business, whether it's through sponsorship or whatever else, in advance, the less Alan and aloof when they would hire. And to our whole thing's less about social media and marketing for us, as is definitely a big focus, but our bigger pictures like how can we create these connections between the business population and the sports, media and entertainment industry that is mutually beneficial to both sides, and so like. Are you open to working with influencers? Are Not really who wants to tell like athletes? Yeah, I think we're looking to add the music soon. You can about from you know the way I speak. It's not that we're not open to it. I think, like our website is heavily catered to achievements and you know, who are you? What team do you play for? What nationality are you? So it's almost like influenced, you just get lost, because the pitch that we're making is, hey, you want to connect the sports. Now we do have fitness guys, I mean, Yo, go we have influences who are definitely not athletes, but they're still connected to sports, like maybe they played Andcaa and then they became a commentator M or, they thinkcame a coach or something else like that. So it's not like we're only per ourthletes by any means. I mean most Olympians are semi pro anyway and have a second job. So it's more a case of just, I think you're famous for from having a skill set which is to do with sports, on musical talent, which, I mean it's probably a bit controversial, and because influence has, rightly so, as you know, there are is their content. I think it's just a bit different to what we sell. Definitely. What are some of your goals for two thousand and eighteen? I mean, we have a revenue goal that we want to get to, so that enables us to going to hopefully raise on xound and and expand even further. We have a headcome goal. So you know we're hiring pretty aggressively. And then, in terms of product, we really want to build something that a big focus fros especial. Two one was or why? I think sponsorship generally has been one of those things that you you spend money on sports and you hope that you're getting a return, and when you think about channels like facebook or Google ad words, it's so obvious what you're getting as a return, and I think we as an industry need to be better. And so you know, we're building integrations the shopify, we're adding UTM tracking links, and so, in terms of products, we really want to be able to prove to you that you should spend more in sports and it's not just kind of like a hope for the best kind of situation. I think about it and what's some of the ways that could give to a new entrepreneur. Yeah, be sure you...

...want to do it. It's a long road. I think you really have to believe in the problem you're solving. There's a huge rate of failure, so it has to be been worth it. You definitely like there's a lost opportunity for the money you're not making in a full time role. But so be sure that you're excited about the problem you're solving, because I think that's everything. If you are really excited about it, then don't think about it too long, just kind of do it. Just try. I mean everyone talks about self fast and what's the worse thing that's going to happen around yourself for the good people. I think I didn't do that early enough, where I just was like I had to feare. I was impulse that. I was like call, let's just get build it. I think you know, if you can try and find the right people and then once you're in it, go fast. We've really fast refine. If you can talk a little about being a woman into yeah, it's different. It's definitely different to being like a male CEO. For sure, the prose, there's a lot of visibility. If you you know if you want that, where you may get more speaking opportunities in a room. You stand out. Obviously there are BC fund to also good from females and whatever else, but the cons are that you do have to work harder to get to the same place, because, even though you're in the room, to be taken seriously, to have the same impact, they think you have to just work harder. You have to be smarter that what what comes out of your mouth has to be ten times better. When it comes to things like building a team, you have to be conscious of the fact that you may have people in your team who's never been managed by a woman before, that only female role model has maybe been their mother, which makes difference when it's a guy. And I think there's a lot of things that come with being a female the especially in industry that's not you know, I'm not solving a beauty, fashion, women's health problem or whatever else, and so I think that comes with its own challenges, because I don't look use sounds like I should be changing the face of sports sponsorship. And you're for some fun questions. Yeah, go friend. What's the biggest difference between living in the UK India in the US? Huge India. It's really obvious. It's like just such different place. I think professionally, I'll talk about it. Professionally. In India it's all about relationship. Ninety percent of a meeting is discussing family and nothing to do with work, and then ten percent is work and meetings last for four hours and you can't cut them off and everyone always late for everything. It's just a very, very, very different place because to work and live, but also to build soft skills, I'd say there's no better place. It's it's amazing learning experience to understand how work is done in different cultures, and India is one of them. England is a I've got a file. I say it's a really, really unique place where I think it's very Merito Classic, You know, if there was a place where everyone is equal and everyone gets the same chance, I do think it's England, and people could have discriever, just a very fair place, very level headed place. But then that brings me on to the other thing. Where America. You know you can make your dreams come true in America and obviously, living in New York like the opportunities here are huge because people will give you that chance. Going back to England. I think it's harder because it's just it's like, you know, there's not so many opportunities to just go crazy that are and like being a situation you never would be. It's more level added, whereas in America is you work fifty times harder, you potentially could make two thousand times more impacts. I think America's just a great place to work hard, play hard. Got Gotcha. And you think cricket or or in Netball will ever be popular in the US, it'll be tough. Cricket they've tried. I mean I'm really close...

...with the international quicket gown, for it's a it's a great sport. I just think it's really tough because probably the length of the game baseball is already here and when it's not engrained in the school system, I mean fuckward having such a top time, so to speak. I mean it's a fifth right, but it's kind of a lower fift but like and people still play it. And so where you've got a sport that really now on't even play, that I think that's tough. And Netball, I mean not happening. My favorite sports play that not getting popular here yeas and last one. What do you do you want to do in your free time? I love working out when I'm you know, because you can't pick up your phone and be deserved when you're on a treadmill or in a workout class. I love working out and I'm married, and so I think great down times for me is like hanging out with my husband and just kind of chilling out. But invariably the competition comes back to work. So I'm not really sure you ever really switched off. Yeah's got you all right. Well, I appreciate you coming on. and which is the best law? Thank you so much for thanks your questions.

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