On the up · 2 August 2017

Quality content over clickbait headlines drives this duo’s online sport platform

School friends
The two school friends have been in business together for just over two years

Before launching their online sport platform, RealSport, Scott Hurst and Roei Samuel knew they wanted to create a website that prioritised content over clicks.

Unlike rival platforms, RealSport avoids misleading headlines solely targeting page views and impressions, and provides readers with a service free of pop-up ads – a strategy resonating with affiliate brands and fans alike.

Having just celebrated its second birthday, RealSport now receives over a million unique users every month, with that number growing.

Business Advice sat down with the duo to find out where their platform stands in a crowded sport media environment.

  1. Who are you and what’s your business?

Scott Hurst and Roei Samuel, co-founders of RealSport, an online sport platform focusing on integrity and quality content.

We have been best friends since school and have both been obsessed with sports our entire lives. We set out to create a platform which would give the greatest fans in the world a voice on the sports they love.

Rather than going down the route of clickbait headlines and deceiving audiences to deliver advertising impressions, RealSport provides amazing sports content for fans, by fans.

  1. How long have you been around for?

As a concept RealSport kicked off in early 2015, and we launched our first iteration of the platform in July of that year – we just had our second year anniversary.

  1. How do you make money?

We create amazing content for brands that want to connect with sports fans, both on our platform and through our wider distribution networks.

  1. What makes your online sport platform different and why should people take notice?

Right now, sports media is broken. Platforms measure everything on page views and ad impressions, and they understand what their audience can be tricked into clicking. At RealSport, we actually understand what sports fans engage with because they want to, not because they’ve been misled.

That understanding, an understanding of what sports fans truly want, gives us a real competitive advantage.

  1. What was key in terms of getting started?

Dedication and focus. They really are the only things we had at the start.

We spent from February to September 2015 working alternatively out of our bedrooms, depending on whose mum was more fed up of us taking all the bandwidth that week.

The key is keeping your eyes on the ball, believing in your product, and not creating excuses in your mind for why you can’t create a business yourself or the time not being right.

  1. What’s your biggest achievement to date?

We’ve had some great achievements, and building our amazing team has been such a great journey to see.

To have over a million unique sports fans a month using our platform because they want to read or watch our content, not because they’ve been misled or tricked into it, is an amazing achievement in our eyes. However, it’s only the start for us.

  1. What setbacks have you had along the way?

One of the hardest things about running a start up, especially when you’re staying as lean as possible, is hiring the right team. Hiring the wrong person can be costly, taking up valuable time on your runway and on the journey of your road map.

The key is to learn from every hire you got wrong, and understand the true culture of your company.

  1. In five years’ time, I will be…

Continuing to expand RealSport globally. Until sports fans stop wanting to consume great content, we wont stop providing it.

  1. What one tip would you give to others starting out?

No days off. No half measures. We both dropped everything else – other opportunities, time with friends, family, and any semblance of a social life.

What you’ll find is the idea you have when you start fully dedicating yourself, will be very different to what you move forward with. You’ll do hundreds of hours of research and find out your idea doesn’t work, but you’ll have found another gap in the market from that research and end up pivoting.

  1. Who are your business heroes and why?

Samuel: This may seem biased as a Manchester United fan, but I can’t look past Sir Alex Ferguson. In terms of management, the desire for winning above all else, the ability to pivot according to the realities of the market and reinventing his team again and again to be successful is all you could ever dream of in a business.

In terms of management he’s the best too – building a team dynamic, understanding the detrimental impact of negativity within the team. All of these are vital lessons in the start up world.

Hurst: The story of the UFC has always been a fascinating one for me. In just 20 years, Dana White turned a failing company with a terrible public perception into a global sports brand worth over £4bn.

A major part of its growth story revolves around the understanding and drive to create amazing content that resonates with the fans.

Find out how these founders managed to launch their startup on a £250 budget

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Praseeda Nair is the editorial director of Business Advice, and its sister publication for growing businesses, Real Business. She's an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.