|“We Build Relationships” - Interview with iSportconnect Founder & CEO Sree Varma|
|Profile of the week|
With the sixth anniversary of iSportconnect coming up we caught up with the man behind iSportconnect, Sree Varma, who started the business from his lounge with one intern and a laptop and helped the business to become the world's largest private network with members from 50+ countries, a HQ based in London and a large team helping to drive the business.
Let’s start with the most obvious question. What is iSportconnect?
We’re a networking platform and community. We’re in the business of building relationships. We do this both online through our website, which provides information on business and job opportunities, and offline through the many exclusive invitation-only events that we hold around the world for leaders in the sports business. iSportconnect means networking, information and opportunities.
Are you a news service or trade publisher?
No. In fact, we have a partnership with Reuters and we are happy to work with publishers. We have news and information on our website of course, as well as iSportconnect TV. The aim is to keep our community informed and stimulate discussion. Everything we do grows from our community and is done to serve the community, and it’s all about partnerships.
How many members does the community have?
About 24,000 registered members. We limit membership to bona fide sports industry professionals.
Do you charge a membership fee?
No. Nor do we charge people to attend our events, which are by invitation only.
What’s your business model then?
We work for our partners. These are the companies that support our platform. Populous has been a partner for several years. We have event organisers like Red Bull Air Race and the Clipper Round the World Race and international federations like the International Union of Modern Pentathlon. We have an amazing group of top-of-the-line partners in the digital space including SAP, Omnigon, Ooyala, Vindicia and Pivot Sport. Events International and Grange Hotels are our partners too. We help our partners to build relationships in sport and develop their businesses. In order to do that, we need to understand what they want to achieve. We work very closely with them.
What makes iSportconnect successful?
The key is the high level of people who are engaged in our community. At one of the Directors Club events, you’ll meet the CEOs of leagues and football clubs, F1 teams, Olympic organisations and brands like Heineken, Mastercard and DHL. When we did a Brands Masterclass at City Football Group for a few dozen of the top brands in the world, it was led by Martin Sorrell of WPP. Our very hands-on chairman, Michael Cunnah, was the CEO of Wembley Stadium. iSportconnect is about building relationships at the top. The rest follows.
About Sree Varma
Sree came to the UK with his family from India, with just £150 in their pockets, they stayed in a room in a house with two other families and only ate once a day until they started earning a wage.
Sree paid off his university fee by developing websites for local business while his fellow class mates were out for partying and managed to gain an MBA in marketing. He has 18 years experience in sales and marketing covering a broad range of fields including pharmaceutical, retail and sport. Mr. Varma has been involved in the sport industry for the last 9 years working with the likes of Business F1, SportsPro, Sport & Mrkt ( which is now Repucom).
He started iSportconnect in 2010 with a mission to bring together global sports business executives. Under his leadership, iSportconnect has become the largest global private network of sports business executives where membership is exclusive & follows a strict door policy. Sree was recognised for his hard work at the Great British Entrepreneur Awards 2013, after sealing the Special Merit award for Social Media Entrepreneur. More recently, Sree has been identified as one of the most influential business founders with an inclusion in the City AM top UK entrepreneurs list. He is also an advisor to several organisations and is on the judging panel for a number of awards such as the Sports Technology Awards & Football Business Awards.