Ishveen Anand: Revolutionizing the Sports Sponsorship Pattern

In the increasing popularity of sports brands, marketing, promotion and advertisement are the fundamental tools that benefits the sports person and organization. However, in recent times finding a right sponsor or a precise advertiser has been a challenge for many organizations. Recognizing this issue, Ishveen Anand, founded a platform in the year 2015 to make sports sponsorship easier for everyone.

In an interview with Insights success, CEO and Founder of OpenSponsorship, Ishveen shares some insightful answers on how the company is connecting brands to athletes for sponsorship deals.

Below are the highlights of Interview between Ishveen and Insights Success:

1. Give a brief overview of your background as an entrepreneur.

I didn’t start my career post Oxford wanting to be an entrepreneur, this was a natural evolution. After starting out in Management Consulting, I became a sports agent and hence got introduced to my industry today – sports sponsorship. I realized that the industry had operated the same way since it started, with brands making their decisions off innate biases and relationships, rather than being data and technology driven. Sponsorship was ready for disruption, the only question was could we be the ones to create the platform to solve it. Now that I am here, I love being an entrepreneur.

2. How do you diversify your organization’s offerings to appeal to the target audience?

Our offering is constantly evolving, as well as our target audience. Initially, while we were in Beta, we went after the SMB market, this helped us include a lot of new brands who never considered sports sponsorship. Now we focus on the mid-market and Fortune 500 brands. We offer a lot more functionality, data, ROI tracking and have begun to incorporate ML. All this has been possible because we are constantly listening to our customers.

3. Describe some of the vital attributes that every entrepreneur should possess.

So many, where do I start!

  1. To listen and learn from your customers and other stakeholders, whether they are advisors, team members or investors. It’s important to be open to feedback given in many forms, and continuously be adapting.
  2. Be strong and resilient, being an entrepreneur is not a sprint it is a marathon, it’s better to get it right than to be the quickest one to do it
  3. Give back, the tech community and ecosystem is small, and you can coach up or down, I have always welcomed the opportunity to sit down with other founders bigger or smaller, older or newer, to discuss, learn and brainstorm together. A close friend and I co-founded the Junto NY club, which is a place where founders and c-suite could get together to discuss their most private and confidential issues facing their company, and get feedback from the rest of the group.

4. How do you strategize your game plans to tackle competition in the market?

It’s important to have an understanding on competition but not get fixated on it. Game planning for our current and prospective customers is what keeps me up at night.

5. What are the frequent challenges faced by women entrepreneurs in the workplaces and what are the ways to tackle them?

  1. One interesting aspect I realized was that some team members are not comfortable in taking constructive criticism or negative feedback from female managers – you can adjust tone, but I actually feel that it’s not up to the manager to change but the team member has to get used to this.
  2. Raising money is an obvious topic. Investors like to pattern match, and for most of them the pattern has been white male founders especially in a male dominated sector such as ours. To tackle this, my suggestion is to find the right investors, who are more focused in you, your product and what you are building, not what they invested in the past. As a female CEO you must be better than a male counterpart to get the same benefits, this means prepare well, know your industry from inside out and impress with your knowledge and fearless attitude.

6. What were the primal challenges and roadblocks you faced during the initial phase of your career as an entrepreneur?

Because I started the business from my desire to change the industry given my own experiences as a sports agent, I definitely faced challenges by diving right in and not being prepared enough with the technology aspect of the platform. I’d encourage new entrepreneurs to follow steps that really help early on e.g. joining an accelerator, getting hand-on advisors that truly understand your industry and hiring team members experienced in the various fields that you need.

7. Where do you see yourself in the near future and what are your future goals?

Making OpenSponsorship the first place all brands come to for sponsorship solutions. Helping them understand, measure and deliver their marketing initiatives regardless of their size – they can be a publicly listed brand or bootstrapping entrepreneurs launching a new CPG. Another goal is to continue to build an awesome workplace for my team, somewhere they can grow and enjoy the challenges and satisfaction of the work.

8. What is your advice for budding and emerging Shepreneurs?

Be patient – it’s a longer journey than you may realize. Be prepared, read a lot, live in the moment, celebrate small wins. If you are just starting out, focus on just getting to the next step, don’t take big meetings too early, and be sure to have fun along the way.

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