Today, the Founder and CEO of Because We Can Media, John Donovan, joins the show to talk about how far they have come in just three short years of business. He also talks about his upcoming premium sponsorship of the Betting On Sports America 2020 event.

Show notes from John Donovan Interview

Ryan Knuppel: Today. I’m joined by good guy in the industry, John Donovan, the CEO and founder of, Because We Can Media, listen in to hear about how his company has become a giant in the industry in just three years.

Ryan Knuppel: Everywhere you turn, it’s the same old sports talk, the same headlines, the same news and the same boring information. This podcast is here to change all of that. We bring you hot sports takes, winning sports betting strategy and picks, reliable gaming industry news and breaking interviews with some of the biggest names in sports business. My name is Ryan Knuppel. Welcome to the Knup Sports Show.

Ryan Knuppel: All right. Welcome back to another episode of the new sports show. I’m your host Ryan Knuppel here with you each and every time. Thank you all for tuning in, listening, watching, whatever you’re doing. Always appreciated. Today as most of you on video can see, I’m here with John Donovan. John is the founder and CEO of Because We Can Media. John, how are you today?

John Donovan: Good. I’m good sir. It’s the UK weather so it’s always raining and it’s gray and it’s cold but yeah, struggling on. So it’s all good.

Ryan Knuppel: Well, I don’t know what that gray cold weather looks like. I’m down here in sunny Orlando, Florida, so I’m looking out to sun, sunshine and great weather. But I’m kind of kidding because I’m very familiar with that, Central Illinois where I used to live had that type of weather there. Ooh, it’s a little dull. Thanks for being here with me, I definitely appreciate it. So what’s new, so tell us a little bit about Because We Can Media, I want to hear a little bit about what you guys do. Tell our audience what we do or what you guys are up to and kind of what you do in this space?

John Donovan: Yeah, sure. So Because We Can Media really kind of, unless you understand the name. A lot of people say, “Why Because we can Media?” It’s quite a quirky name and things and that’s exactly how it really started, I suppose. Long and short of it, I spent the last 15 years within the digital marketing space. Sounds, predominantly working with various companies, big blue chip companies as well. I suppose working with both brands and agencies alike and then sort of really kind of monetizing the businesses from that standpoint.

John Donovan: I think after 15 years of doing the good old commute into work every single day and hitting those CTRs the clients would be happy with, which were lower than where they should be, but if they’re happy with them, they happy with them. I sat there with a friend of mine and we sat down, we said, “You know what? We can do this better. There’s something we can do here. The industry needs fixing.” I’m a one man band that, it’s a huge interest in the UK, let alone when you start touching base into the US and globally.

John Donovan: That’s what happened. It was a case of why should I do it and it was because we can, and the simple fact is, we had the contacts, we had the connections, we had the knowledge between us. So to really go out there and try and make a difference rather than just taking all that budget and just throwing it wherever we can try and get those results for those clients. It was really a case of, let’s go out and speak to our clients and see what they really want, understand what their struggles are, what their needs are and then look at those solutions and how we can kind of work around that.

John Donovan: Of course, it was tough because you go from being quite senior at these big companies, being paid a decent salary, so basically earning zero, working with maybe one or two clients that are reluctant to work with you, not from personal standpoints, but the simple fact is, we don’t have anything to sell. That’s when I kind of started for the first year of the business, we didn’t really generate any revenue whatsoever.

John Donovan: It was tough, but I needed the products. I didn’t want to just take a standard network that meant we could just kind of run out there and be one of many. It was a case of we wanted to try and establish ourselves and have contracts and relationships and integrations with fantastic brands. In the first year we managed to sign up and work with the likes of people like ESPN, Fox, CBS Sports, a lot of the major international publishes, but very, very solidified within the US sports market.

John Donovan: Then working with a few clients that I’d done before we kind of moved into that whole kind of gambling space. Which is strange because I’m not a gambler and.

Ryan Knuppel: Yeah.

John Donovan: Moving on to eSports in a second but I’m not a gamer either. We kind of started working with a few clients. We’ve seen some great results, not just with direct publisher relationships that we’ve got, but we then integrated and actually bought our own or built out our own tech, which allowed us to look at more targeting, be more granular from a programmatic standpoint. Then it kind of grew and grew, attending some of the shows, doing the grinds, kind of walking around the shows handing out business cards, generating as much business as we could.

John Donovan: That just evolved very, very quickly to the point where we’re working with a good handful of some of the biggest gambling brands you’ll find on an offshore because they both have their individual needs and struggles. Then we fell into the space with eSports in the sense that it wasn’t growing because it was already there. eSports has been massive for a long time. People say, “eSports is a growing market and it’s developing.” It’s there already mate, it’s huge. You’ve never seen the scale of these tournaments and the prize money and everything else there, it’s there and it’s only getting bigger. As my brand then sort of said, “Look, we want a bit of the eSports basically, we want to start taking odds and running lines on eSports events. Can we do that?” Again, it’s got its challenges because some of your bigger gambling brands and that already tied in with some of the major events, [inaudible 00:05:38] and so forth for this world.

John Donovan: But there’s other events and other ways and enriching the streamers and the online gamers and things like that where we can put me in front of them. So the gambling and eSports thing was just a natural fit and it just evolved from there. Now we are three years later into the business, we are one of the premium sponsors on Betting on Sports America, so we’re going to be out there. We’ve just been at Ice, we’re hosting some other events. We’re taking on and hiring new people both in the UK and the US as well, yeah, and it’s evolved and grown. I think, we still stand strong with what we started off with is that we listen to our clients. We do our utmost and as a marketing business, we strive to give our clients what they want, strive to give them those results and that ever elusive return of investment, which is always promised, always under delivered, and for us it’s something that we do day in, day out and that’s why we’ve got a 100% retention rate and that’s why we’re growing as a business, I suppose.

Ryan Knuppel: It’s an amazing, amazing story. No, that’s an amazing story and I think that’s why I relate to you so much, John. I have a very similar mindset in business. A lot of people that jump into business or jump into entrepreneurship, and this is a little off subject here, but they jump into entrepreneurship, just think it’s going to be easy. They think, “Okay, well I kind of start a business and the business will come.” You have to work to get business. For you listeners that are listening to what John just said, he had to work, he had to put himself out there every day, reaching out, attending shows, handing out business cards, client follow ups. It’s a daily grind and then you’re still not guaranteed it. You got to work with those clients to keep them and retain them and have that relationship with the clients and any kind of agency business, I think is important and crucial. It sounds like you’re doing a great job of that, but I give you props for putting that time and that effort in and now you’re seeing the fruits of your labor, I guess you would call it.

John Donovan: Yeah.

Ryan Knuppel: It’s amazing. So I relate to that. I guess that mindset and that work ethic, that hustle, I’m wearing the shirt hustle, that hustle, I relate to that.

John Donovan: Yeah. Every single day, but it’s good. I mean that’s the difference is, a lot of people now think that when you’re starting your own business, you’re going to have a lot more downtime or you’re working for yourself now. I’m working more hours now and I’m probably working more than when I was heading up big multinational companies before, from a sales perspective, so it’s not a nine to five. The beauty of it is that grind and that work as hard as it is, is that when you are seeing the results and you are getting the recognitions and dealing with meeting new people every single day like you yourself have, it evolves and the relationships grow and it’s so much more rewarding that when you are taking that bit of time just for yourself, whether that’s a holiday or whatever, it’s just like, “I’m sitting down, I’m going to have a cup of tea. I’m to watch Netflix this evening.” just a bit of me time, no matter what it is, it’s so much more rewarding, and it feels good to do that.

John Donovan: Yeah, it’s a struggle because the gambling space is saturated. The eSport space is saturated and trying to break through that noise as a marketing business is tough, but we’re getting there, we’re getting there and we’re still growing. We’re still evolving. So yeah, it’s good fun.

Ryan Knuppel: Great. Amazing. So, so tell us a little bit about the betting on sports America events. For those of you listening, I talk a lot about this event. I think it’s one of the best in the business, this event that will be held up in the Meadowlands here in just, what are we, a month and a half away or so. It’s a great event. SBC crew does a great job at this event. It sounds like Because We Can Media is going to be now a premium sponsor of this event. You guys are going to be very well featured at this event and kind of have your hand in some things. Tell us a little bit about how that came about and to some of the listeners, what you’re looking to get out of it or hoping to meet some of them, I’m assuming.

 

John Donovan: Yeah, no. Listen, I’m not one of these people that kind of goes and shows, “I have to speak to this CEO and I have to speak to that CEO.” I’m actually looking to touch base with everyone and anyone, because again, I’m a firm believer of when you speak to various people, if that’s not right for your business, they might know someone who does and vice versa. I can obviously help them because I would think, we’re all kind of competing in the same space to a certain extent and there’s no point trying to be competitive or trying to be under handed with things. I want to speak to actually as many people as I possibly can while we there. I’m flying over to New York, I’m there for three or four days.

John Donovan: Yes. The premium sponsor, the way that come about, the simple fact is I wanted to do it for years but I just one, couldn’t afford it. Two, didn’t have the resource, three, didn’t have the knowledge of really how to go about exposing our brand. And because coming with your brand to the US because as I say, 90% of our business is US focused. We’ve got clients now in Australia, we got clients in Africa, Costa Rica, all over the place, but their core market is still the US because that’s where your biggest gambling, sports gambling is, it’s just facts.

John Donovan: I’ve been dealing with the guys over at SBC, and like you said, do a great job. I’m really excited to get to the show and really, it was just about having some additional presence. Yeah.

John Donovan: [inaudible 00:11:17] to my exposure. I want to see this as a return. That’s not what it’s all about right now for me. For me it’s about really just embedding the brand a little bit and giving us a bit more exposure to the US market because it’s tough. I’m based in the UK. Yes, I’ve got a couple of sales guys in the US and stuff but I just can’t do the trips to the US back and forth, it’s just not possible.

John Donovan: Our plan and as the business evolves, is to start sponsoring these shows, starting off as premium sponsors is still quite a big deal for us financially as well as everything that we’ve got to organize behind the scenes, but really it’s just to show that we are a serious brand.

Ryan Knuppel: True.

John Donovan: We welcome from some fantastic brands and we’ve really established ourselves as the kind of go to marketing agency for the gambling and sports market. It’s tough because I get a lot of people that have been doing it for 20 years and go, “Yeah, how could you establish yourself in three days? You nothing in this…” Yeah, we’re not, in business years, we young, in business years we still fledgling, but what we do, we do right and we do well. We’ve got our 100% retention rate and we’re proud of that and we’re now going to take on new clients, speak to new people, new partnerships, new integrations and that’s why we’re at the show. It’s very simple.

John Donovan: That’s why I’m at the show. I’m there again hustling at the show, giving out business cards, getting meetings. So [inaudible 00:12:45] today. So yeah, I’m really looking forward to it. It’s a really looking forward. It’s a fantastic show, and of course, happy to touch base with anyone and everyone.

Ryan Knuppel: Yeah. Well I’m certainly looking forward to meeting you face to face and sitting down with you and having a tea or whatever, sitting down for awhile.

John Donovan: We having a bear after-

Ryan Knuppel: The beer. Okay, we’ll go beer-

John Donovan: After the walking off the-

Ryan Knuppel: After the long day of events, I’m sure we’ll find an excuse to have a beer, so that would be amazing.

John Donovan: For sure.

Ryan Knuppel: Cool. So what else, how can people find you. How can people get to you, contact you, what’s the best channel?

John Donovan: So we are obviously extremely active on what’s actually, we’re fairly active on LinkedIn. One of those things that we will be bringing someone on board soon to really start generating contact for us across LinkedIn, so it’s Because We Can Media on LinkedIn or you can reach out to myself, John at because we can media.com, drop me an email, again, I’m on LinkedIn, John Donovan.

John Donovan: So yeah, there’s plenty of channels that you can find us, we literally just revamped the website a little bit so it’s a bit more crisper and cleaner, but we’re kind of doing a lot in the back end at the moment to be a lot more, not aggressive, probably the wrong word, but a lot more focused to the market, a lot more easier for us to be seen and if anyone wants to Google us and its like, Because We Can Media, that they going to get a [inaudible 00:14:12] of not just things like these videos and podcasts and things like that, which should be great because we obviously share those. But people, there’ll be a lot more trust, a lot more confidence when a lot of brands are coming into the US market, which is always a bit messy right now, it’s evolving but it’s kind of getting there, I think slowly. Then we can be seen as that face because it’s tough.

John Donovan: The US market right now from a gambling perspective, it’s that one minute you’ve got Chicago leading the charge, but then they’re not going to get it and there’s New York but don’t get it, and then they cut that back and then, you’ve got a million different sports books that are all of a sudden opening up in the US, which is great for us, don’t get me wrong. They need the resources and we can help them with that but, I still think that there’s a long way to go in regards to the States that are doing it that needs to do it right, needs to do it well. And I think once they start doing that in the right manner, then other States will follow a lot quicker than they have been. So yeah, it’s one of those things, but I digressed, but you can contact us through LinkedIn and stuff and from there.

Ryan Knuppel: Amazing. Well we’ll put all those links in the show notes so we will have a little transcript of this show. We’ll put all those links out there for anybody listening so you didn’t have to take note of that. We’ll actually put the links out there and send some people over your way, John. Hey, I know you’re a busy man. I know you’ve got a lot going on, probably got some meetings to jump into so I won’t take any more of your time. I’m so thankful that you joined me and kind of gave us all just a little picture of what you do. You’re inside the life of John Donovan, I definitely appreciate it and props for all the work you guys have done and the growth you’ve had in just three years. I look forward to seeing the future for you guys and I know the sky’s the limit for what you guys are doing, so thanks for joining us again.

John Donovan: Cool. Thanks buddy.

Ryan Knuppel: All right, take care listeners. Thank you for tuning in. Again, that was John Donovan of Because We Can Media, we’ll have the links to him out there, appreciate it. If you do go to the Betting On Sports America conference, be sure to stop by and make sure you find John, find myself as well, and we’ll sit down and have a chat. So all right, have a good day everybody and we’ll talk again soon. Thanks John.

Ryan Knuppel: Thanks for listening to this episode of the Knup Sports Show. If you enjoyed this podcast, please consider subscribing to our iTunes channel today. Plus visit us at Knup Sports dot com for more pics, previews, strategy, and news. That’s KNUPsports.com.

 

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