Mike Sharman, founder of MatchKit and Retroviral tells us about athlete management.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Mike Sharman: We have pushed the boundaries of multitasking, homeschooling and have had our fair share of visits to the emergency room for our 2.5-year-old to receive multiple stitches but we are all healthy, and our businesses are in a great space – we are privileged compared to our contemporaries in physical events and the impact that Covid-19 has had on their businesses.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded MatchKit and Retroviral.
How does MatchKit and Retroviral innovate?
Mike Sharman: Retroviral has made more brands go viral – globally than any other agency in Africa. We are branded content specialists and always hunting for topics to create laughter, drive emotion or push the boundaries of shareability. MatchKit helps athletes better commercialize their careers by focusing on player personal branding and profiling the associated metrics needed to showcase themselves – off the field – to their most important commercial audience, the sponsor.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Mike Sharman: We are fortunate to have been GSuite early adopters. Having an entire business hosted on Google Drive prior to Covid-19 Lockdown, enabled us to move from a physical to a remote workforce within hours of South Africa’s pandemic protocols. We’ve had some losses but, fortunate to have more wins.
MatchKit was born out of lockdown and we are confident we wouldn’t have had access to the players and bodies we’ve been able to attract to our product, had it not have been for the pandemic – justifying our gut feel and decision-making to move swiftly from domain registration to go-live in three months
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Mike Sharman: We were consumed by difficult decisions, but fortunately, a decade of startup and entrepreneurship ‘university of life’ prepared us for the grueling life in the remote working trenches. Decisions needed to be decisive and swift and leadership assured to keep staff and clients calm, based on our choices.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Mike Sharman: ORM – online reputation management tools are critical to our operation, we wouldn’t exist without native social media channels – especially Twitter and LinkedIn, which are my key network connection points. ‘Your network is your net worth’.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Mike Sharman: We have competitors at the startup/boutique level all the way through to the established players such as the Ogilvy of the world. Our approach is challenger agency in nature and we are obsessed with being the BEST, not the biggest. Because we are not defined by ego, we remain topical and relevant.
Your final thoughts?
Mike Sharman: Life is short. Play naked!
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