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From Sports Enthusiast to Sponsorship Innovator

Ishveen Jolly


Powered By:

hsbcinnovationbanking logo

From Sports Enthusiast to Sponsorship Innovator

Ishveen Jolly



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Ishveen Jolly OpenSponorship
Full transcript here

About Ishveen Jolly

Episode 154: Amardeep Parmar from The BAE HQ  welcomes Ishveen Jolly, Founder & CEO of OpenSponsorship

In this podcast episode, Ishveen Jolly shares her journey from a sports-enthusiastic child to the founder of OpenSponsorship, likened to an Airbnb for sports sponsorships. She discusses the challenges and joys of her career path, the importance of passion and adaptability, and how her diverse experiences and skills helped her build a successful platform connecting athletes with sponsors.

Ishveen Jolly


Show Notes

00:00: Intro 

01:05 - Early career aspirations and experiences

02:01 - Academic background and influence of family

03:04 - University activities and passion for sports

03:46 - Balancing sports and academics at university

04:41 - Reflection on the importance of sports and other joys

06:05 - First career decision and shift to consulting

08:00 - Transition to sports coaching and consulting

09:12 - Experience working in India and the culture shock

11:12 - Working with Mumbai Indians and Hero Honda

13:04 - Enjoying the transition to a more dynamic role

15:38 - Passion for sports participation

17:55 - Realisation of the need for OpenSponsorship

19:11 - Idea formation and early inspirations

20:01 - Development and pivot of OpenSponsorship

21:28 - Building and scaling the platform

24:43 - Early challenges and onboarding clients

26:35 - Building the platform without a tech background

27:43 - Current state and success of OpenSponsorship

29:52 - Vision for the future and achieving profitability

32:06 - The journey of team building and growth

35:19 - How to learn more and get involved

Headline partner message

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Ishveen Jolly Full Transcript

Ishveen Jolly: 0:00

Sponsorship's like a $60 billion industry, so it's huge. Sports is about 70%, but I love what sports does and brings. I remember there were moments where I was like that's broken, that's broken, that's broken. When you start dreaming and waking up and thinking, if there was a text on my phone and it's like, oh, someone's doing the idea that you've thought of, then it's a good time. Essentially like an Airbnb for sports sponsorship, it's a good time essentially like an Airbnb for sports sponsorship.

Amardeep Parmar: 0:34

This is Ishveen Jolly's story from being a sports actor as a child to going into consulting, to then building the Airbnb or sponsorship open sponsorship. We talk through her journey of why she made the decision she did, how sales gave her so much confidence to build what she's building, and how she managed to get on some of the biggest names in sports to her platform. This is a really enjoyable episode and I hope you enjoy. I'm Amar from the BAE HQ and this podcast is powered by HSBC Innovation Banking. So great to have you on today and it's amazing what you've achieved so far, but I'd love to rewind to, like your childhood. What did you want to be when you're growing up?

Ishveen Jolly: 1:05

I don't think I was one of those kids that had that like I want to be X, Y and Z. It's funny because I actually tell people now interns who come and work for us. I'm like I think it's more important to know what you don't like. And then you have like a very short list at the end. And my parents are both doctors classic and I did all the sciences and maths GCSEs A-levels. Obviously I have to do that. But I remember I had dissection class and I almost fainted. I had to leave class. I was like right, not going to be a doctor.

Ishveen Jolly: 1:35

So I think accounting I did, like an internship. I was like, nope, don't want to do that. So I think I kept crossing things off my to-do list and mostly don't want to do that. So I think I kept crossing things off my to-do list and mostly because obviously where I've ended up is not a career that is presented to you as an option. So I probably didn't think I wanted to be anything because I didn't know all the things I could be when I was young that I would might want to do.

Amardeep Parmar: 1:58

Where did you end up studying if you weren't sure yet what you wanted to do?

Ishveen Jolly: 2:01

Yeah, I suppose you just kind of flow would like go with the flow of like what you're good at and what you kind of your teachers like tell you to do. So you know, I did the sciences, I did math and then I studied um economics and management at university and kind of testament to that, the other day I was speaking to my um little sister and I was, and she did economics and I was like why did you do that? And she goes because you did it. Oh, stupid.

Ishveen Jolly: 2:24

But so clearly there isn't very little rhyme or reason why we do certain things.

Amardeep Parmar: 2:28

I did economics as well. And why did I do that? Because it kicks Ken down the road of making decisions right. It's like oh the economics, I can do other things, hopefully, right.

Ishveen Jolly: 2:35

Exactly yeah.

Amardeep Parmar: 2:36

And when you were studying economics, did you have then any better idea of what you wanted to do, or was it just kind of going with the flow and continuing, or what do you think then?

Ishveen Jolly: 2:44

Well, I suppose testament to the point, I work in marketing and I didn't take the marketing module during the course that was available to me while at uni. So clearly I had no clue what I was genuinely interested in and I was literally just like oh, what are you picking? I'll do the same thing.

Amardeep Parmar: 3:04

And you did a lot of other stuff at university as well.

Ishveen Jolly: 3:05

Right, it says a bit about that yeah, so I suppose that the theme is in um, I was a good student but it was like for the sake of being a student and making sure my like parents didn't like whoop my ass. But really the thing that I did intentionally was sports. So from probably my first netball game was like 10 years old, from like 10 years old to even today, like sport has been the thing that I am most intentional about. That brings me the most joy.

Amardeep Parmar: 3:37

And what sports were you playing in university? Did it ever get that position of you know the whole Benedict Beckham thing right Like you need to focus on your studies, or were you able to manage that quite well?

Ishveen Jolly: 3:46

Yeah, I think how you actually um Oxford, they your own. Your exams are only in your third year, so which is a bit of a joke.

Ishveen Jolly: 3:53

So first and second year literally don't count for shit, and all your exams at the end of third year. So the whole thing is there, that you basically do whatever you want. And then third year is like miserable, and I played sport all the way through and a lot of people like you should have given it up by now, but it wasn't. Unfortunately, I wasn't of the benefit like Beckham level for it to be like taking over my life to the point that I was like going to play for England or anything. But I think it's also really important to understand, like as I said, like what brings you joy and what relaxes you, and I think those things keep you sane, um, through these very intense periods. So, like even today, like I know that I need to factor like the gym or working out into a very busy schedule, because that is what will make sure that I don't like blow my head off, kind of thing.

Amardeep Parmar: 4:41

I think it's sad as well how many people give up sports or dance, whatever it is, after they go to university or things like that, because I think it's quite common for a lot of Asian people to do that when they're at school. But then they go to university, they kind of have to start kind of get down, and then so many people want to start working because it's like okay, I don't have time for this anymore when I said it brings people so much joy and it's like it's just a shame that happens.

Ishveen Jolly: 5:02

100, 100 %. I did a lot of you know. We talked about our like COVID journeys. One of my big things was like almost rediscovering who I am. There was obviously a lot of change. I moved from America back to England and all of these things, and there was a lot of reading.

Ishveen Jolly: 5:16

I did around like your inner child and what makes you happy? And I don't think people know enough what like actually makes them happy. A good question I have for like is you know, tell me five things that you can do that aren't reliant on anyone else, that bring a smile to your face. And it could be as simple as sitting in the sun, and for me, I try and work outside. So, and a lot of people as a CEO like like, don't you need three screens? It's like well, so if, if being in the sun makes me feel happier and therefore I can work double the amount of hours, that is definitely a better setup than having two screens inside.

Amardeep Parmar: 5:54

And today you can do that, but I guess not often in London you can do that that often sit in the sun. So once you graduated university, right then, obviously you didn't go straight into what you're doing today.

Amardeep Parmar: 6:05

What was that first decision of the career you're going to go into?

Ishveen Jolly: 6:07

Yeah, I genuinely thought there was like investment banking, accounting, consulting, I think, like that was it. I think those were the three options and, um I went into consulting. I did know that I um again, like the, I worked at Ernst and Young over summer and I realized like I didn't want to work at a big company. It was crazy to me that they offered me a job after, like that internship. Now now I can look back and understand it a bit more, but like I did nothing, like for whatever six weeks of that internship. And then they they're like great, we value you, here's a job offer. And you're like wait, what? So I was like this, this doesn't make sense to me.

Ishveen Jolly: 6:47

So I went to a small consulting group, um called Javelin Group, loved it and, honestly, for all the like to be entrepreneurs, I think having a um, a first role where you are learning from people who are wiser, older than you, some like hard skills like excel, um like Excel and how to write an email and PowerPoints, and like someone has to teach you that and it sounds so basic but it's so valuable, and so I really really loved the experience. But I remember feeling like you leave university and your parents have told you and everyone's told you, like you can do whatever you want, just just finish this, just finish this. And then you get to that and everyone's told you like you can do whatever you want, just finish this, just finish this. And then you get to that first job and you're like, okay, this is like I'm not really doing well, and I think lawyers have it worse when you know, or whatever else but like I just remember feeling like is this it, what's going on? Like is this everything? And so I suppose that started the new discovery.

Amardeep Parmar: 7:48

It's quite an interesting decision, then. What you went into next, right, because it's such a departure from, I guess, what most people think like an Asian would do. Right, so he's gone to Oxford and then gone into consulting and done these things. What was on that decision? Was it a snap decision? Was it something you took a long time to think about?

Ishveen Jolly: 8:00

I think again like that, like not really thinking. So I took a week off, I did, I went to I don't even know, maybe it was Walthamstow and I did a sports coaching course for like a week I think. I applied and I got some like scholarship to do. Okay, I have no interest, not no interest, but like I'm not really looking to be a sports coach, I have no clue why I used a week's worth of holidays to do that. I have no clue why I used a week's worth of holidays to do that. And like, if some one of my team today told me, like we're taking a week off work to do like a bakery cooking class, I'd be like, do you want to be a chef? Like no one really asked me, I just did it, came back to work and so I think it was like a very slow.

Ishveen Jolly: 8:38

I think there was someone I worked. I said I'm really passionate about sport and someone I worked with introduced me to um, a friend of theirs from uni. He'd gone to Cambridge, he was a few years ahead and he worked at IMG. I'd never even heard of IMG, I didn't even know that world existed, and so I think it was like a slow, kind of like peeling back the onion, like the layers of like oh, there's a world out there that like sounds so stupid, but we just we, you know like no one growing up, no one worked at like caa or img or any of these, like in hollywood or sports or for a sports team that we knew about.

Ishveen Jolly: 9:13

So, um, it took me a minute to get there and then actually I so, and then I met someone who introduced me to my boss to be and I got a job offer, um, and my parents said no to me moving abroad, to India, and to me taking this job. Um, so, whatever old I was like 22, 23, I can't remember, but like I basically like sat there, like a bit upset, but like listening to my parents. And then, um, 2008, like recession kind of, here I got promoted but no pay rise and I was a bit like come on, like what's the worst? That's going to happen? I'll be back in six months. And basically, obviously I did my like you know, passive-aggressive, like stand and um, they, they kind of agreed to, um, say yes. So then I moved to India.

Amardeep Parmar: 9:59

Even for yourself. Then, right moving to India, was that ever something you thought you'd do like, or how was that experience of like then moving?

Amardeep Parmar: 10:05

Obviously quite a culture shock from like your background as well.

Ishveen Jolly: 10:08

Honestly, I used to go to India as a child, like like a lot of people, every two or three years. I hated it. Like we'd go to um, my mum's from Babal, and like we'd go there and I wasn't allowed to wear like sleeveless clothes, even though it was boiling, and weird men would look at you, weird and all of the weird things that are happening in here. You get sick and whatever, and I really disliked it.

Ishveen Jolly: 10:36

And then I I went, when I was maybe during uni, I think, and clearly something had just changed and I just I was just like, wow, this country like exists. Like exists in a way that I've never seen anything else, like everyone's kind of happy, it kind of works. It was just very appealing to me. So that reckoning came very late and again, like my parents had a bet, they were like she's going to be back in a month. And then, when I had a bet, they were like she's going to be back in a month. And then, when I wasn't, they were like she's only doing this because she, she went. If we'd sent her she'd be back in six months and obviously, I stayed and loved it.

Amardeep Parmar: 11:10

So what happened out there? What were you doing there?

Ishveen Jolly: 11:12

so I worked for an agency, very small like uh, 10 people maybe, and, um, they had fashion and he was a former Australian cricketer and he was married to like an Indian supermodel, so they had fashion, and then they had sports and I was on the sports side and so my biggest clients were Mumbai Indians and this was second year of IPL, and then formerly Hero Honda, now Hero Motor Corp, and they sponsored kind of everything, and so within a week so the office was in Delhi, but within a week was in Mumbai and, bearing in mind I was a management consultant Like I, a week so the office was in Delhi, but within a week was in Mumbai and, bearing in mind I was a management consultant, like I wore a suit, I went to work, I ate like m&s sandwiches for lunch, like very normal life, and my first ever meeting, uh, was to broker a deal between Mumbai Indians and a telecom company called Idea, and it started at like maybe like 6 pm and went on till like 3 am in the morning and like I, I love my, my, all of us, but like to give you a kind of an insight, I, I spoke in the meeting and I got a text on the table that said like do not speak unless I tell you to, and obviously like going from like being a management consultant, where you're like encouraged to give your views and like you know I think you're very privileged and in like this, like zone one London, where you don't have to validate, like you're here because you belong here.

Ishveen Jolly: 12:26

But obviously in india, like most people probably thought I was like the secretary and like you know, so there was a lot of like it helped me for my america move, where it really made me realize like the value of like having to drop the university label or like having to talk about, like being a management consultant, and which, again, was quite useful for America as well.

Amardeep Parmar: 12:45

So it was. It was a huge learning, hard but amazing. And guess no regrets, obviously at that point?

Ishveen Jolly: 12:51

Oh no, like I um loved it, loved, loved it yeah.

Amardeep Parmar: 12:56

So you said that you're there for six months. I guess that's for the season, right, or why was it six months? Or did you then come back to the uk? We go straight to America. What happened next?

Ishveen Jolly: 13:04

Oh, no, no. So that was what my parents, I stayed out for two and a half years. So like made it quite well in there. I was really fortunate like had a really good client in Mumbai Indians IPL. Second year moved to South Africa. So like it was just an amazing experience because I was part of the MI family in a foreign land and then Hero were amazing to me. So I basically did Commonwealth Games, multiple ICC tournaments, golf, loads of different things.

Amardeep Parmar: 13:37

And that transition from management consultant to what you're doing there. What did you enjoy most about that role? So, obviously there's one part which is getting to work with people you're working with, but obviously you had to now transition from an imaginative consultant, while they said you have to have a stronger voice. What was it at that, in that new environment, that you enjoyed the most?

Ishveen Jolly: 13:53

I think a very I was. I was young and at quite a young age, having um like the, the ability to like to prove myself, to be in like a sink or swim situation, um, I suppose again like probably why I love working in America it's very meritocratic and I think in England there's like a. You know, if you think about all of the setups, it's like you work for one year and then you get promoted and then you keep going and there's like a hierarchy and then you know it'll take you 10 years to make partner and all of that. So there's not, you know, you don't bring in business until you reach a certain age. This is your job.

Ishveen Jolly: 14:38

And getting over there it was like if you could do it, do it, if you could prove yourself, prove yourself, if you can like um, win a big client, win a big client, if you can close a deal, close a deal and again, very, quite startup environment where it's like your hustle will. And I think that was quite liberating for me because I I was able to, and the management was something that really helped, because what happened was I I would put like charts together and my clients would be like we've never seen anyone present like this before and it was like okay, and then, you know, and they trusted me more because of that, and so it was just yeah, it was quite liberating to like what as hard as I wanted to work, and again, that probably helped me in my entrepreneur life as well.

Amardeep Parmar: 15:22

So with your sports background as well, how much did that come into it? Was it was the passion for sports from your university days as well, or did it necessarily matter? It was a sports field you're working in a lot of time? Did it feel kind of great from that aspect as well?

Ishveen Jolly: 15:38

So, you're, I'm guessing you're quite a big sports fan. So it's interesting. Actually I am. I am a massive sports participation fan. I love playing. When Ryan Giggs was my first poster which is a shame because I see everything he did but.

Amardeep Parmar: 15:57

Hasnt aged .Well, that one.

Ishveen Jolly: 15:58

Yeah, exactly. But you know, still, he was my first poster and I was obsessed with, like sports and all of that. But if you remember, like when we were quite young, sports went over to cable and we had like the solid four channels and then became five and so I didn't really grow up watching a lot of sports and you know, like my dad wore a turban and so we didn't really go. He never took us to man united because it was racist, I presume, or whatever else. And so, um, being like actually, when I moved to india, I met, like obviously in the first weeks of being there, like such and and all of these guys, and I actually didn't really recognize most of them, even though I played cricket at school, which which sounds so stupid, but it wasn't. Like I'm not. I love sports but I'm not a fan of the. There's very few people I've met who I'm like you take my breath away kind of with your stardom, but I love what sports does and brings, so yeah.

Amardeep Parmar: 17:03

We hope you're enjoying the episode so far. We just want to give a quick shout out to headline partners, Hsbc innovation banking. One of the biggest challenges for so many startups is finding the right bank to support them, because you might start off and try to use a traditional bank, but they don't understand what you're doing. You're just talking to an ai assistant or you're talking to somebody who doesn't really understand what is you've been trying to do. Hsbc have got the team they've built out over years to make sure they understand what you're doing. They've got the deep sector expertise and they can help connect you with the right people to make your dreams come true. So if you want to learn more, check out hsbcinnovationbanking. com. I wonder if that almost helped you, because if many other people in that job that you were doing would see such and then not be able to speak properly, whereas because you weren't overwhelmed, you could really present yourself in the best way possible as well. And when did the like seeds of like open sponsorship come from? Like? When was the idea starting to form?

Ishveen Jolly: 17:55

I think it was like really over many years and many different. If I look back now, even when I was working in India, there was um. I was working on a golf event and often they'll have like a marquee player, which means someone from like the US or the UK um comes over and is paid by the title sponsor, um to be there and elevate the status of the game a little bit different now because it's so big in Asia. And this marquee player came over and I was like oh, you're doing a lot of sponsorship while you're here. And he was like well, no, my agent doesn't know anyone in india or dubai or turkey or wherever I'm playing. So I remember thinking, oh, that seems. I remember there were like moments where I was like that's broken, that's broken, that's broken. And then ultimately, when I um started the company I presume it was like a lot of little broken. I'm sure it's the same for you it was like there was many snippets of like that seems a bit odd, we don't have that. And then you finally have enough conviction.

Amardeep Parmar: 18:54

And what was that tipping point? Was there a moment where, like because I guess you've got the little idea of, ok, I'm going to do this and this, when was like a fully formed OK, okay, here's what I think can solve this problem.

Ishveen Jolly: 19:03

I think I was living in new york at the time and um, uber was really growing.

Ishveen Jolly: 19:11

Um, there was a company in new york whose founder I had met, called um. The company was called Zoc Doc. It was like a booking service for doctors. Um, I was using linkedin, so I think it was like that early, all of these websites. You were like seeing their ability, and then I would think about my own day job and think this is so archaic, like this doesn't make sense. So, and it took me a minute, I have, you know, I think I got to the point. I think I say the same where I'm like when you start dreaming and waking up and thinking like if someone, if there was a text on my phone and it's like, oh, someone's doing the idea that you've thought of, then it's a good time to like if you're actually nervous about someone else doing it it's probably a good time to do it and then can you tell us like what was the idea at the beginning?

Ishveen Jolly: 20:01

it's kind of similar to now, but this is very much more folk. I think what's pivoted is the messaging and the positioning, but the idea is like the same. So, um, essentially like an airbnb for sports sponsorship, um, sponsorships like a 60 billion dollar industry, so it's huge. Sports is about 70. And so I just was like there must be actually one of the big things I was doing for Hero. They were expanding into South America, so I had been to like Columbia and to find deals for them.

Ishveen Jolly: 20:31

And you know, sit across team people and they'd be like well, how much money do you have? And it's like, well, how much does it cost? And they're like you know, how much money do you have? And you're like this doesn't seem right. And then you go back and tell the client, they're like, yeah, we'll revisit in three months. And you're like, oh, I'm gonna have to do the whole. So I just remember thinking, how is there no efficiency in this? And so the idea was essentially a you have a platform where every, every sponsorship opportunity in the world is listed. Everyone can go and basically go teams shirts. You know, let's say, bay is like all right, I want to sponsor the uh ipl team for that amount of money. But of course, there's a lot of nuances that you know. Marketplaces are hard to solve. We've seen them over and over again, um, and so really, where we're at right now is where it started with, like team and events and everything. It was the athlete side that really took off.

Amardeep Parmar: 21:26

And obviously the role you're doing.

Amardeep Parmar: 21:28

Right. There's a lot of autonomy in that you're having to go to these different places and great deals, but this would be the first time. I guess, once you cross out of that, that's your own thing. How did that feel? Was that a big deal to you? Was it something which you built up the confidence for all these amazing things you've done already to be like no, I can do this?

Ishveen Jolly: 21:51

You know, my job in India was on reflection again like you don't think about what you're doing. I was a sports agent, but really you're doing sales. When you do sales, I think it's the most underrated skill for everyone to have. I think there's like a weird taboo around doing sales. I suppose equity financial, but you know otherwise, like, and I think what happens is it? You know how to have ownership, you run your own little PNL, your own book of business, and so it's kind of like that, but having to do a lot of other things. So I suppose the confidence came from, like, if I can do a multi-million dollar deal, I can. I also, just didn't really think about it. I think most entrepreneurs probably don't think too much, otherwise you'd be stuck.

Amardeep Parmar: 22:39

I guess some people have this idea where they build up for ages before they get ready to take the leap and then some people, like I said, a more nonchalant of like yeah, this will work out, it'll be fine, and it's interesting to see the different aspects where it's not necessarily one route to it. And I just said that like marketplaces are hard right and there's a lot of people trying to build marketplaces that haven't done very well and obviously you've bucked that trend right. You've been able to build out open sponsorship. What do you think you were able to do at the beginning that enabled you to like really get going well and avoid some of the pitfalls of other marketplaces?

Ishveen Jolly: 23:09

I don't know if, um, that's what you're saying. I think I classify it as like silly entrepreneurs like me who just like get going, and then like business school entrepreneurs who sit there and like spend two years doing an MBA to like figure out what business they want to start. I think passion is a huge thing. So I'm not sure like we avoided the pitfalls, but I'm obviously so passionate about what we're doing and it helps that it is a sexy industry. So, like the benefits, even when it's going a bit shit, I get invited to a ball game and it reminds me like this is a good, I like my space, um. So I think, um, the passion is really helpful, because I think, for most people is about, like I said when, when we first started, I remember someone saying about a year in influence marketing and I'm like I will never use those words what are you talking about? This is sponsorship. And now I'm like we are influence marketing.

Ishveen Jolly: 24:03

Do you know any influencer marketing people? So, um, I think it's like being a little bit adaptive, um which you know no offense to the boys out there I think women are sometimes a bit more flexible, um, and like listening, a lot of listening to your customers, um, and just like a lot of hard work. But, as I said, I can do it because I'm really passionate.

Amardeep Parmar: 24:28

And how did you get those first customers on board? Right, Because, like you said, it's an idea which is quite archaic. The industry at that time and I guess people might want a solution, but you've got to convince them that you're the ones who are going to work and it's going to be worth their time to come on board. So how did you convince the first people?

Ishveen Jolly: 24:47

You know our offering today. We've got a lot of copycats, but it was really innovative.

Ishveen Jolly: 24:54

And in fact, sometimes I meet people who are starting a company and I'm like doesn't that exist? Which is really like. I mean, you know, I'm sure you have a view because you look at more decks, but I'm always a bit confused when I meet people who start a company. That's just a slightly different version of something that already exists. So I think for us, like now, the problem with building something that doesn't exist is it takes a little bit longer to get adoption. The adoption is quite like you know, it's low LTVs, right. So people are like sure, I'll do a test budget with you for like 5K or 10K. I'm not winning a whole contract from like someone else to over here, so it's just a bit different.

Ishveen Jolly: 25:29

But it wasn't that hard to get people to sign on. Well, one is we made it free for the athlete agent side, the team free like the rights holder side. So that's a no brainer. You want sponsors? I mean, it's obvious, you want sponsorship dollars. We're not going to charge you unless we give you a deal. Basically, everyone signed up and thought God bless, you're probably not going to get us a deal On the brand side, we still are probably too cheap. So we like which is a big sin of many startups um, so it's very easy. Not, I'm not gonna say easy because my sales team would hate me, but like it's, it's a unique value prop. It's underpriced, to be honest, it's quite high value. Um, and so like, why not? We kind of make it very easy for you to like, give us a go.

Amardeep Parmar: 26:14

And I build an initial platform as well.

Amardeep Parmar: 26:15

Right, because from my understanding, you don't have the tech background there. How did you build that all out? How did you get the idea of how you're gonna make it work? Or because I guess people might have like an idea, like you, where they think their job at the moment is like there's something that could fix that problem. Yeah, but then because they don't have the tech side, they get hesitant, hesitant, they don't know what to do. How did you solve that side of things?

Ishveen Jolly: 26:35

So there's a big difference between can you build it, but can you visualize it right. I am actually a big product person, so I like back when we first started, I taught myself like this tool called Balsamic, which. I think, does it still exist?

Amardeep Parmar: 26:53

Yeah, I used that back in the day, my old day job yeah okay.

Ishveen Jolly: 26:56

So, like um, you know I like wireframing and all of this and, like you know, I would love spending time on, like other marketplaces, to see functionality, and so, yes, I don't code, but I love product, um, and I think that is absolutely necessary. If you don't love product, then you probably shouldn't start a tech company, even if you think you have a great idea, because you do. If you're the visionary in the business, I don't think you can think that your engineer will be able to just like build the product without your vision on the product side.

Amardeep Parmar: 27:33

And then can you share with us as well. Like you said, that there's been like a small pivot, but it's mainly the same core idea what? What does open sponsorship look like today? What's, what's the uh journey been?

Ishveen Jolly: 27:44

Yeah , um. So I'd say, obviously, like that messaging, I think understanding like your user personas. So we have, like Mary, the marketing manager this is company size we have fred, the founder, who's our user, and then we have alex, the agency, and so I think, like it's honing in. You know, we signed Walmart as a client right fortune one. Uh, I can tell you right now I love Walmart, like I always want them to work with us, but they're not truly our icp and um, that means that you never know when they're not going to need you, um, and and various other things. And so I think, like there's been a lot of just like understanding the business a lot more and like re-grafting. I'd say the biggest change, um, which I love and hate, which is really interesting, is in the last like two, three years. What's really helped us like truly like go up and to the right has been this realization that people don't want another platform to log into, as on the beta.

Ishveen Jolly: 28:50

On the business side, as a consumer, we are generally quite like. We want to optimize our life. We we will. You know if, if it saves us a few pounds, we'll walk a long way around like we'll. We'll do things. We're driven by different things, but when it comes to being in a work setting one because other people are paying for it, two because no one wants to work more hours and like work more isolated what we have realized is we could offer a full service white glove solution, charge more for it, have more control about how you use our platform and how you use our athletes and, basically, you're also happier. So we built this amazing platform that's got great UX, that's got 20,000 athletes and what we tell you is hey, don't worry if you never want to use it. Here's a person pay us more and they'll use it for you. And it's kind of weird and ironic and I hear it's a big trend in the tech space right now.

Ishveen Jolly: 29:52

So it kind of kills me and makes me laugh.

Amardeep Parmar: 29:56

And what are you most proud of this journey so far? Because obviously you've done so much and there's been many wins along the way. What makes you happiest of the different things you've done?

Ishveen Jolly: 30:05

One that was still around. Um, there's many times that like we could have given up. So one um two is you? You know, like in a time especially where, like, lots of people are being laid off and like unemployment rates are like weirdly not reflective of what I think they probably are in society, but I've built a company that like feeds people and gives them insurance and you know whatever else, and I think like that's really really gratifying. Um, you know, the other day, like one of our engineers celebrated three years and it's like, oh, built a company that someone has chosen to work at for three years. So I think that's obviously amazing.

Ishveen Jolly: 30:42

Of course, like putting money into the hands of athletes some need it, some don't, but like that's really fun. And then probably like a little bit of personal growth, just a little bit. Yeah, I think, you know, often like one of our investors gifted me an exec coach and it's so funny and sometimes I do my own personal therapy and like I basically had to like decide which one to do because it was a lot of overload. But I think it's the traits that make you like your strengths are your weaknesses and I fully believe that. So the things that make me a great CEO can also make me probably a shit manager at times, and the traits that make me X or Y or whatever else, and so I think this constant but it's. I embrace the constant evolution. So that's probably what I'm proud of in myself.

Amardeep Parmar: 31:39

And then, what are you most excited about for the future?

Ishveen Jolly: 31:41

Well, we're trying to. We're on our path to profitability. We're marching. We had a really good Q1 in April and so I'm excited about, you know, tbd. We're thinking, you know, either we get acquired or we raise a big round and start acquiring ourselves. So that's really fun to think about.

Amardeep Parmar: 32:02

And you mentioned there about the team as well, like how big is the team now?

Ishveen Jolly: 32:06

15 people.

Amardeep Parmar: 32:07

Yeah, and I think it's always interesting when people make that transition of where, when you have the idea at the beginning, then growing out a and how, like it's obviously it's nice to hear that people are staying with you and they're like enjoying working there, right, even if you said like sometimes it's trying to manage that personal dynamics, right. And I'm gonna go into quick five questions now. So first one is who are three British Asians, you think are doing incredible work and you love to shout them out today?

Ishveen Jolly: 32:32

Yeah. So um, one is um a good friend of mine who is a also marketplace founder. Um, he was the year two years above me at school and then also at uni. Um, and I remember, like when I was quite young, I uh well like when, when I was a management consultant, sometimes I go for like lunches with him and his friends and I just like, even though it was two years, I like watch how they like would exchange like tips and tricks and like I'll introduce you there to that person, and I just remember being like I kind of want to be you when.

Ishveen Jolly: 33:06

I grow up even though, and so his name's Avin. He runs a company called Housekeep. I don't know if you, um and I just it's nice to have someone who's in marketplace space that I sometimes like go to for advice, and I do think he is, um, helping other people, does some stuff, so yeah, you could look him up. Um two is a friend who also is what, um, maybe my only friend who invested in open sponsorship, um, a guy called Manhad um Narula and um, you know, as I don't know how you feel about this, but like, definitely as a female south asian, like raising from friends and family was not something that I would have ever done. Now I have such a different perspective.

Ishveen Jolly: 33:45

I think it's an honor to allow, like I wish my friends and family were invested because I I'd be hopefully making the money and proud, and I've invested in some friends and I think it's lovely. But I remember like it being one of those like weird things that like I don't know the white MBA kids in New York were doing. But I was like, no, I'm never gonna ask my parents or my family to invest or friends to invest. And so he did invest and I just think it's so nice that, like you take a shot on, take a shot, took a shot on me, um.

Ishveen Jolly: 34:14

And then, third, I could name any one of my family members, but I mentioned my little sister and she works for the civil service and, uh, we live together for the past three years and I just sometimes having um, I obviously employ quite a lot of millennials, um, and maybe even the one I presume, like that age bracket, and I think sometimes as a CEO and a leader, you can be disconnected. So I have really enjoyed like coming out and being like and then her giving me her perspective, like even the work from home stuff. Like she never switches on her camera but she works really hard, but I can see that. So she's earned the right to not, whereas I would not be okay with my team not switching on their cameras, but it's like I think it's been really helpful to like see a different perspective.

Amardeep Parmar: 35:03

What's your little sister's name?

Ishveen Jolly: 35:05

Oh, sorry, I forgot to say Kavneet Jolly.

Amardeep Parmar: 35:07

Okay, but I say because most people in the audience won't know your sister's name.

Ishveen Jolly: 35:16

God, come on guys.

Amardeep Parmar: 35:16

Yeah, so all lovely shout outs there. The next question is if people want to find out more about you more about what you're up to, where they should they go to?

Ishveen Jolly: 35:20

Yeah, so, uh, go to opensponsorship. com. Recommend this to anyone who has money so I can be profitable and, um, you know, take our next milestone, um, and obviously me LinkedIn, or this is probably the easiest place.

Amardeep Parmar: 35:31

And is anything that you need help with right now or open sponsorship needs help with?

Ishveen Jolly: 35:34

You know, you never really know what you don't like know or what you like you know, um, thinking about, like, for example, aws recently put us on a program where they're paying for someone to help us think about ai, uh, which is kind of cool.

Ishveen Jolly: 35:46

So I'd say like, if you have any thoughts where I'm always, it's always fun to, and one of the things we've done is kept our full-time team lean but we try and bring on consultants to do interesting specific projects in this new business world. So, yeah, happy to hear.

Amardeep Parmar: 36:04

So thanks so much for coming on today. Have you got any final words for the audience?

Ishveen Jolly: 36:07

No, keep doing what you're doing. Well done, and thank you for all your hard work for the community.

Amardeep Parmar: 36:12

Thank you for watching.

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