Coping with COVID as a small-business owner

For FAN+, 2019 was all about brand building, growing the experiences, partnerships, distribution channels, research and development and sales. We had a fantastic year, and leading into Christmas 2019, we launched gift cards that exceeded our expectations in terms of sales and our experiences were very well received in the market. We were very excited and looking forward to 2020 and the year ahead, we invested heavily in our tech and user experience in early 2020 ready for the NRL and AFL season to kick off…and then COVID-19 hit!!

FAN+, along with many businesses were heavily affected by the effects of COVID-19, as a business that is all about experiences, face-to-face interactions and attending events our sales and revenue dropped off very quickly and significantly. We were very lucky that we had access to the Government support packages available to small business and their employees, and also the security and backing of a sophisticated and supportive shareholder group.

Throughout the COVID lockdown, as a business we looked at the positives and looked at ways to work on the business, way to pivot the business and generate new revenue streams. We continued to push out gift cards into the market as gift cards now have a three-year validity period, it still gave our customers an option to buy a wow-factor experience to share, enjoy or gift in the future.

We converted a large portion of our experiences into “virtual experiences” so people could still interact and connect with an athlete or personality online. These experiences although different really had an impact and have gained very good momentum throughout the lockdown period.

We also worked on our tech and business plan for post-COVID and ways to grow, resource up and open up new markets in the extra time we have had while the business is running at a much slower capacity.

We also looked at ways to connect with other start-up and programs globally, many of the leading sporting tech programs all went online and virtual through the pandemic period. One that we had been watching for some time – HYPE Sports Accelerator – was calling out for applicants for is first ever “Virtual Accelerator”, we applied and after a two-month process, FAN+ was selected as a group of 10 out of 1000 applicants to participate in the online virtual program. We are in week three of the program now and thoroughly enjoying it. The HYPE program offers starts up access to global networks in sports and global investors, it will be very exciting to share our story, our brand and our start-up with a global audience and give us access to some great people, networks to help us scale FAN+ into new markets and keep us on our projected goals on our start-up journey.

Our experiences have been unprecedented and unexpected but we embraced the moment and tried to find as many positives we could to build, grow and educate ourselves and our business during this time and we believe we will come out much stronger, mature and prepared for any future scenarios.

Rod Harys, Co-founder, FAN+