In this series, we’ll meet the winners of Northern Stars 2017. What makes 10 of the best startups from across the North of England tick? Let’s find out…
This time, we meet Jonny Turner, CMO of Sport:80.
What’s your company’s elevator pitch?
The sports sector is in transition, with requirements to become more efficient and more commercial at the top of the agenda around the world. Sport:80 provides a solution to this problem in the form of a supercharged, sports-specific business management tool.
Our aim is to simplify workflows, create value through economies of scale and enable growth within the sports sector. How do we do this? We provide innovative solutions and mechanisms to traditionally manual, labour-intensive processes. By centralising our solutions within one system, we have developed a community of sports (that is continually growing) all working from one technology.
How did the company get started?
Both Gary (our CEO) and I were working together delivering projects to National Governing Bodies (NGBs), international federations and major sporting event organisers. It was during this time that we began to search for a solution that, initially, would be used to solve our own needs.
We were working on the delivery of the largest of all of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games test events – the ISSF Shooting World Cup (London Prepares Series 2012). The event was unique for a number of reasons, including the amount of data management required.
Data was coming in from over 90 countries, and it required processing and re-distributing to a large number of key stakeholders.
To cut a long story short, we couldn’t find a suitable (or affordable) solution, so began developing our own. This was used very successfully as a stand-alone management tool in the delivery of the event. We took the basic concept of what we had built and expanded it to become what it is today.
We now support associations at international, national and club level both in the UK, in Europe and in the US.
What are you looking to get out of Northern Stars?
Good question! We’re hoping that being a part of such an exciting network and group of companies will bring with it some unique opportunities. We are still learning about what winning means!
We’d like to leverage our involvement to establish key contacts within DCMS. This is as we look to influence policy around shared services within the sport and recreation industry within the UK, and as we look to export to other markets – Asia in particular.
We’re excited by what the future holds, now we’re a ‘Northern Star’.
What’s your biggest business challenge?
Our biggest challenge is, quite simply, keeping up with demand. We have seen a huge shift occur in the UK and the US over the past 2 years. Technology is now at the forefront of most governing bodies and associations’ minds.
With the GDPR compliance deadline now firmly in view, we’re receiving more and more calls and emails asking how we can help. One thing that makes us a real asset for NGBs in particular is the structure of our platform. By working with us, any NGB will be able to offer their club network a method to become GDPR compliant.
They will still have many other things they will have to do to achieve this throughout their organisations, but ensuring their technology and the processes it automates or provides is compliant is a massive weight off their minds.
We are currently in the process of raising more investment with a view to an IPO in the near future, with the specific requirement to increase our resource to really begin to scale the business.
What was it like to pitch at the grand final?
Pitching at the Grand Final was a particularly unique experience. I have never pitched in that kind of environment before! We would usually pitch our business to potential customers, where at most there may be 10-20 in a room.
The stage, screens and judges definitely made this a different setting. Sitting and watching some of the other fantastic companies did begin to create a few nerves. However, once I was up there, I really enjoyed it.
Where do you see your company in two years’ time?
Our focus is on converting more International and National Governing Bodies to become part of our community. The more we have, the greater the opportunities for them all. In two year’s time, we’d like a physical presence in the US and Asia, and to have at least achieved a tenfold increase in revenue.