So now we had our first teams through the door, how could we keep them? How could we get people to buy into our ideas and feel part of the organisation? We started keeping in regular touch and having private chats with as many of the players as possible. I think having a personal touch is key, there were too many times when we would join a team or organisation and we would speak to the owners once and never see them again, if we ever spoke to them at all!
This is something I’m conscious of with the Overwatch team Frrum has just put together. We haven’t had a lot of interaction with them whilst they’ve been forming and just left Frrum to it for the last month or so. We are planning to have a ‘Golf-it!’ tournament to mix people across teams and become more involved with Overwatch, watching their league matches etc. Unfortunately, we only have so much time and a lot of tasks we have to carry out as company owners if we want to progress. We have to trust our teams to be able to organise themselves and we will help where we can, it is a difficult balancing act and I hope our players appreciate all we are trying to do for them. We have a point of contact within each team we regularly talk to but I want any player to know they can approach us with any problems.
One of the big tasks right now, is getting in sponsors to help fund player’s travel and tournament entries. Everything so far has been funded for by the co-founders ourselves and our investment currently stands at ~£1,000 (20/08/2017). We want the organisation to be self sustaining and have several revenue generating ideas we want to implement in the future. The key is to get off the ground and start winning tournaments to get noticed. Our original search for sponsors did not go very well as we struggled to get past customer support or sales teams to speak to people who could actually make a sponsorship decision.
It was very frustrating to say the least and has led to us approaching company directors directly via twitter or other social media platforms. Our original pitches were too detailed and we have now adapted to a much shorter pitch aimed to open dialogue before our full proposal is sent professionally. This has been much more successful although we have delayed a lot of our sponsorship talks until we have 3 key things:
- We are an incorporated company
- We have a company bank account
- We have won a LAN
Becoming an incorporated company sounded very difficult and intimidating. Our googling didn’t do much to alleviate our concerns as the process seemed to go very in-depth and we were afraid of making a mistake which could get us into trouble with regulators or the government. We plucked up the courage and jumped into it on the UK government’s website. Although the website was a bit clunky to use (I had to insert our address 10 or so times through the process), it was pretty straightforward as we have a simple 50-50 partnership. It would be a lot more complicated with other shareholders, particularly if they are other companies. It took 3-4 hours to complete and £12 later, our application was sent off. It was really very simple and we would encourage people not to be put off by the daunting idea of it. I think the fees are much higher in other countries so £12 in the UK is a bargain.
The following day, our application was rejected because the word ‘Authority’ suggested we were tied to the government. One search later on company house and we found ~300 companies with authority in the name! This didn’t seem very fair so we appealed and we were issued an apology and told to reapply. An hour later, I had re-entered everything (including the address 10 times again!) and it was accepted. We were officially a company at 26 years old! This was a bit of milestone in the organisation’s life and our own. We felt very proud and will push this as hard as we can whilst working full time jobs.
We have to submit annual accounts and everything else a company has to do, which means keeping a really close track of expenses with receipts to boot. I’ve coded some EXCEL to help us with this so there is currently no need to invest in accounting programs (which saves us money, about £5 per month for a start-up). Becoming a company also allowed us to open a company bank account but there are so many providers to choose from with very attractive offers! There are a lot of banks which offer large loans and no charges on first years of operation for start-ups. We don’t have an interest in taking on a loan at this moment (there are plans for one in the future if things go well but I’lll keep those cards close). The problem then becomes that banks start charging ~£20 per month and extra charges on transactions after the grace period. This would be a relevantly big expense for us and largely unnecessary. In the end we found ‘Tide’, a start-up bank which has no monthly fees but charges 20p per transaction. As the amount of transactions we have is low, this was ideal for us. We have since become one of their founding members and hope to become more closely partnered with them in the future.
We had now achieved steps 1 and 2, the story of our first LAN will be posted next…