RICHARD PEARSON, CEO and founder of PledgeSports, has kicked back his heels to reveal everything it has taken to make this sports crowdfunding platform the world leader.
In the first of five interviews with Dublin City University student Molly Swan, Pearson speaks candidly about running a start-up, sports funding and the crowdfunding era.
Let’s begin. . .
How did PledgeSports come to be and where did you get the idea?
I had been following crowdfunding since its inception and loved its impact and it’s revolution on funding in society. I have always loved sports and noticed there was a massive lacking of funding in the field so I decided to create a solution for this through technology.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
Yes! From an early age I knew I wanted to be my own boss. I always had new ideas on how I could make a living and PledgeSports was my lightbulb, my EUREKA moment.
I was toying with the idea of setting up my own crowdfunding site for a while. In November 2013 I was so inspired by a talk by the founder of Indigogo at the Web Summit that the next day I jumped head first into creating PledgeSports.
What has been the biggest challenge in running your own business?
The biggest challenge has been taking on so many roles. As a start-up business owner I have to be a marketing manager, finance manager, technology manager, customer service manager and many more! This can be a challenge.
What advice would you give to some thinking of setting up a start-up?
Don’t try and do everything yourself! Learn to delegate and outsource. When you are passionate about an idea it’s easy to try and do everything yourself, but this may not be productive. Stick to the things you’re good at.
Why do you think you there was a need for PledgeSports?
We are a brilliant solution to the problem with sports funding; 90% of all athletes, clubs and teams around the world have to constantly fundraise. With PledgeSports they get to do this online and also get to grow their profile and fan base at the same time.
Who are your customers?
Our company has two customers: the athletes that need funding and those that are willing to fund. We have now covered nearly every sport known to man, and have helped everyone from national teams, local clubs, Paralympic athletes, endurance adventurers, bodybuilders, kids, mothers, fathers, (no Grandparents yet that we know of…) and past, present and future Olympic athletes.
We also actively source potential supporters in order to provide a superb service to anyone starting a campaign on our website.
What has been the website’s biggest success story?
We have now ran Crowdfunding campaigns in 24 different countries around the world in the space of two years! and we have become a disruptive force in the crowdfunding market and the sports funding market. This was always my goal however, we still have a lot more room to grow. Helping out so many people and hearing first hand the difference PledgeSports has made to some people’s lives is a huge achievement!
What has been the most successful campaign on PledgeSports?
There has been so many but a few really stick out in my mind, it’s very hard to single one out as there has been so many amazing and inspiring stories from people we have worked with. However, one that I will never forget is the Tanzanian women’s hockey team.
Their team was set up by an Italian hockey player who made it her mission to help and fund this team in an environment where women have little opportunity to play sports or get an education. They didn’t even have grass to play on or shoes to play with so to help them was a huge success to be involved in!
Where do you see Pledge Sports in the future?
I see the website continuing to grow at a rapid pace, eventually breaking into the area of sports brands and sports events. I am hoping more campaigns will be set up in even more markets. I’d love to see more Asian and American campaigns.
Where do you see crowdfunding in 2016?
The size of the crowdfunding market is multiplying every year and is still in its infancy. It takes so many different forms now. It’s a very exciting market to be in and I can’t wait to see how it evolves this year.
Tune in next time for the second of these insightful interviews with our founder. In the meantime, checkout who’s new on our Sports Crowdfunding Successes page.