How I launched a digital business

How I launched a digital business
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The digital landscape is moving faster than ever before. While this throws up a number of challenges for the media industry, for budding entrepreneurs there’s an opportunity to seize the moment and quickly turn ideas into reality.  

My story is testament to this. I recently launched MMA Kanvas, the first mainstream mixed martial arts sport website in Australia and part of ninemsn’s Wide World of Sports. 

This time last year I was working as a product manager for Microsoft Products Hotmail, Skype and Messenger, but as my interest in MMA increased, I volunteered to editorially cover Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) events for the Wide World of Sport (WWOS) – combining my day job with a sideline focus of pursuing my dream to drive MMA to a mainstream audience.

I could see the potential to monetise the delivery of content to MMA fans and I grasped it. MMA has an incredibly strong following in Australia and there was a gap in the market to fill with a proposed MMA digital offering. Last year I began working on a business case to present to the executive team at Mi9, to secure a platform for MMA coverage on ninemsn.

Through Mi9’s entrepreneur program I embarked on a three month sabbatical to work on my project and was supported by the ninemsn team.

In the back end of 2012 we came to an agreement that I would leave my role at ninemsn to create and develop MMA Kanvas. The third party deal would deliver MMA content (including news, lifestyle and fitness) to an Australian sports audience via World Wide of Sport and ninemsn.  

As I was deep-diving into alien territory, I required general advice on everything from how a website makes money to quantifying commercial success, as well as the technical specifications required to run a site.

The test of any great entrepreneur is how they respond when the going gets tough and the digital media industry is no different – I had my fair share of obstacles to tackle in getting MMA Kanvas up and running.

My initial challenge was the fact that I was attempting to push extensive MMA news to a mainstream sports audience. While this in itself was no mean feat, there were also many functional challenges to contend with – such as how to cover the sport in a way that was acceptable for mainstream media and how to educate the ninemsn sales team and buyers around the MMA proposition.

My golden rules for budding entrepreneurs

If you’re looking to get an idea off the ground, don’t sit around waiting for someone to throw you a bone – you need to be bold and put yourself out there. Even if you work for an established company, like I did, it doesn’t mean you can’t think like a start-up..

Here are my top tips for entrepreneurial success:

1.Research: Entrepreneurs need to know their stuff. Research the market landscape, understand the competition and be confident in your USP

  1. Work your butt off: The old adage ‘fail to prepare and prepare to fail’ really does ring true.  Make sure you do the ground work before presenting the ‘big idea’ to a potential partner
  2. Make sure your idea is commercially viable: There are plenty of ‘good ideas’ out there that won’t make you money, so your idea not only needs to be ‘great’ it to needs to make business sense
  3. Get help: While you may be an entrepreneur, you’re not expected to have all the answers –so whatever your idea, leverage your support network and seek advice from those more experienced than you
  4. Don’t expect instant success: Setting up a business can be a bumpy ride, so be prepared to take the rough with the smooth and learn from your mistakes

If you have an idea you think will work, don’t be afraid to approach your employer – you never know, you might be on to something! Right now is the perfect time to strike while the iron’s hot and maximise the potential in the Australian digital media market.

Adam Ireland is director of MMA Kanvas

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