Xan Varmuza is the Founder and CEO of SportSide. SportSide is the first global local sports club, enabling players to ‘meet their match’ and helping coaches, clubs and brands drive sports events and promote a healthy lifestyle across the globe. This is all done through an Android/IoS App and web based Club and Marketer’s Platform. Sportside recently won an accolade of Hype Innovation Top 50 Sports Tech App of 2018.

Sportside has been seed funded by our founder Xan Varmuza and an early investor and has now developed the App and Web based platform. Xan has put together a great team including Jim Bruce Ball, Brad Hancock Suleman Siddiqui, Hermione Way, Richard Henman and others whom have all been working on the business for sweat equity and is about to commence a seed funding (SEIS / EIS eligble) round of investment for launch of the App / Club platform and operations of the business.

What is your background? What made you decide to become an entrepreneur?
Xan was born in Oxfordshire, went to the Dragon School in Oxford and then Eton College and the University of St Andrews (Msc History) and subsequently obtained a Msc International Real Estate at Oxford Brookes University. Xan then worked in real estate for ten years and having always had a passion for entrepreneurship set off on an entrepreneurial adventure and journey to South Africa. In South Africa Xan set up a personal fitness and training centre called On Your Bike and also invested in and expanded an event and wedding planning company called Confeti Events. Whilst in South Africa Xan had the idea for the Sportside App and started developing it!

Entrepreneurism is in our family and blood! I made the decision to become an entrepreneur because i was frustrated how slowly things moved in a corporate, I always knew and believed I could do things better than any corporate but most importantly of all I had a great business idea in Sportside and my educational company UKOSS, knew I could make a great success of it and enjoyed the buzz of creating and executing a business and being in control of my own destiny. I always want to look back and be able to say ‘this is what I created, this is my legacy!’

What is your definition of entrepreneurship?
My definition of entrepreneurship is ‘Sacrifice, Determination, Graft and Luck creating business successes and failures that can all be learned from and never giving up.”

How and when did you know your idea was good enough to develop it?
I knew my idea was good enough about 5 years ago when I struggled to find a tennis player to play tennis with, missed out on sporting events and competitions because I always found out about them after they happened and realised that sports marketers did not have a way of targeting the consumers. I then did my research online, in sports clubs, with sports enthusiasts and the general public and then realised that I was onto something and having followed, analysed and seen the success of the likes of Facebook, Tinder, Groupon, I knew my idea was good enough and could become an incredible success.

Sportside is an app and web based Club and Marketer’s Platform.

A brand that makes it simple for:

● Players to find a sporting match
● Coaches to grow their clientele
● Clubs to manage themselves
● Brands to attract new customers
● Venues to maximise revenue
● The Country to get active

An iOS and Android App and Web Based Platform and CRM with full GPS locality for Individuals, Clubs and Marketers to create a global hub for:
● Connection
● Communication
● Participation
● Commerce

The individual: find a sports mate / coach
– Core filters: Geolocation, sport, sex, age, ability
– Arrange an event: date, time, venue
– Connect with other individuals: create a group
– Rate, compare experiences and update profile

The club: connect with individuals and club management
– Find a club (core filters: location, sport, ratings
– Connect with club members and followers
– Club management platform tool
– Team management, fixtures, results, news
– Declare availability for matches and payment mechanism
– Promote Club Sports (social and competitive) events and receive payments

The marketer: loyalty card and promotions
– Marketer management platform tool
– Retailers offer exclusive offers to SportSide members
– Holidays / Tickets for major events
– Metrics promotions (Core filters: location, sport, sex, age, ability, etc)

A Video Presentation telling you all about Sportside can be viewed here

What would you say are the top 3 skills that needed to be a successful entrepreneur? Why?
Creative thinking – all the best businesses have been built on finding a unexploited niche or improving on the business and creative thinking will come up with the idea
Risk Taking – Need the guts to be able to take calculated risks that might lead to tremendous failures or stunning successes
Strong Work Ethic – Everything takes time – normally longer than expected. Lots of hard work and long hours are required to launch something new and make a success of a business and one must be relentess in this pursuit to achieve.

What is your favourite part of being an entrepreneur?
My favourite part of being an entrepreneur is not the Income and influence which are both wonderful but actually the constant learning and the freedom and the knowledge that I with my team have created a legacy.

What individual, company or organization inspires you most? Why?
The individual and company that inspires me most is William Vanbergen whom is CEO and founder of the Chinese educational company British Education. As a great friend of mine we have always spoken about each other businesses, run ideas through each other, given feedback and pushed each other and I have known about and followed his entrepreneurial journey from when he originally got on the plane 15 years ago to China not knowing a word of Chinese to start the business. He has faced all sorts of problems, difficulties and hardships and has never given up and overcome them and now created one of China’s largest educational companies. A true inspiration to all.

If you had 5 minutes with the above indiv/company/org, what would you want to ask or discuss?
I would like to discuss how to launch my company Sportside in the China market!

What would you say have been some of your mistakes, failures or lessons learned as an entrepreneur?
My mistakes, failures, lessons learned as an entrepreneur:

One of my biggest lessons learned as an entrepreneur is never ever just trust people and always put it down anything agreed in a legal document.
No-one will ever do anything as good as you but you have to be prepared to accept this and learn to delegate.
It will happen so never give up!

How have you funded your ideas?
Initially through working hard and using my savings and then subsequent investment
Are there any sector-specific awards/grants/competitions that have helped you?
Won Hype Top 50 Tech Sports Start-Ups of 2018
UpStart Digital DNA Pitching Finals Contest (Belfast)
Open Active 4 day Finalists Pitching Bootcamp
Start-Up Direct Loan £25,000

What is good about being an entrepreneur in Oxfordshire? Bad?
What is great about being an entrepreneur in Oxford is that you have two of England’s best universities Oxford Brookes and Oxford University, and all the resources they have to offer including very bright, talented graduates and the number of entrepreneurial and tech businesses within the area and the variety and diversity of the population. the only bad thing is the occassionel M40 traffic into London!
If a new entrepreneur or startup came to you looking for entrepreneurship resources, where would you send them? (Anything Oxfordshire especially!)
I am not sure actually – probably to look at Facebook and Meetup and to join a couple of the relevant groups. E.g. Meetup group

Any last words of advice?
Never ever give up and never be afraid to ask for help or advice!

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