We are cruising along trying to do a mountain of work. And we’ve reached an agreement to merge two women’s basketball sites, Inside Women’s Basketball and Full Court, and are now building a new site for combined content.
Steve Yelvington, who consulted with us in August, has been hired to build out a new content management system for the new site using the Drupal platform. Having worked on website builds for several major newspapers, we felt his expertise would help get us past many of the hurdles and mistakes that plague many new sites. Steve is able to look at the big picture and help us prepare for future growth. He is also helping us maximize the tools of the internet which will be an asset when we launch.
My advice for others:
* Don’t be overwhelmed by the project
So far, the biggest challenge has been trying to merge three basketball websites. After three months of trying to hammer out a three-way, equal-partner deal, Cheryl Coward of Hoopfeed decided not to move forward. We were uncertain about her ability to match the award funds, so better to happen now than later. It was a small setback, but ultimately, it has left the door open for us to partner with other people.
Since then, Inside Women’s Basketball (IWB) has come to an agreement with Full Court. Originally we had talked about forming a new company, but since Full Court & IWB are both legally registered companies, a way to save money was for one company to buy into the other. Ultimately we came to an agreement that IWB would buy into Full Court and the company would be re-organized. Both companies will invest $12,000 in the re-organization, giving us seed money of $24,000. I, as the founder of IWB, and Lee Michaelson, owner of Full Court, will be equal majority partners and each own 40% of the company. We are leaving 20% of the company available for others to buy in.
The other main hurdle to overcome in the negotiations was what the new site would be called. Both sites have advantages to name and brand recognition as well as what our companies bring to the table as far as content. This process became easier once Hoopfeed was no longer in the picture. After weighing many pros and cons and speaking with a marketing consultant, we have decided to keep the name Full Court with the mantra/subtitle of “your ticket inside women’s basketball”.
With this decision behind us, we are now able to focus on things like logo design, a marketing kit, creating marketing partners, content management partners, social media and many other things. Right now, we are planning to soft launch the new site in mid-February. This period is the heart of women’s college basketball. The full launch/marketing blitz will happen about a month later during the NCAA tournament with a launch party at the Women’s Final Four in Denver.
The other major challenge has been finding a sales & sponsorship person to work with the site. It is my goal for the site to generate revenue through advertising. Since we do not have the budget to hire a full-time sales person, we have been in the market for a freelance part-time sales person. This has proved to be challenging. The world of digital sales has exploded in the last 2-3 years and this is apparently a position in high demand with not enough supply! I have been contacting many sales companies and individuals. I’ve interviewed and pitched with about a dozen people. So far we haven’t found the right fit, but we have a few more candidates to interview and hope to nail this down in the next few weeks.
Overall the process has been a lot of decision making and planning. But with the major hurdles behind us we are starting to get to the exciting parts like what the site is going to look like, how we will be creating content. and how we will share our new site with the world.
My advice for others:
- Don’t be overwhelmed by the project, pick small tasks to achieve on a regular basis that will keep your progress moving forward toward the final goal.
- Don’t be afraid to divide and conquer. Let your business partners/co-workers take responsibility for certain tasks.
- Be willing to teach your self how to do things. As a small start up you can’t pay for everything, you just have to figure out how to do it yourself, for example, building out a YouTube channel or Facebook page. This isn’t rocket science, you just have to figure it out and spend the time teaching yourself how to do it.