Awkward Office Chitchat? There’s A Newsletter For That

Sports Ketchup

CATCHING THE ENTREPRENEURIAL FEVER

And so it was one of those early conversations as the two were walking through the snow when Senior told Danneman that “Peyton Manning sucks in the snow.” The words stuck with Danneman and she thought she’d try them out on another group of friends.

“I said it to somebody not too long after and his reaction was, ‘you’re right, he does, that’s so smart,’” Danneman recalls.

Danneman, who came to HBS keen on entrepreneurship and starting her own venture was like a bloodhound sniffing out startup possibilites. “Last fall I think about three times a week Britt had a problem identified that she thought she could solve,” Senior remembers, laughing. “And most of those ideas were either not solvable or not solvable by us.”

TALKING SPORTS WHEN YOU DON’T REALLY LIKE SPORTS

Instead of overly complicated technical or scientific problems, Senior says, this was a universal people problem they could solve—helping people talk about sports who don’t actually care that much about sports.

“We wanted to increase the level of participation for people who are not necessarily interested in sports but want to be part of a conversation,” Danneman explains. “It could be in a career setting or at a bar or on a Tinder date, or to your Uber driver—whatever.”

Indeed, Senior seemed like the ying and Danneman the yang. Senior was a voracious consumer of sports media and Danneman was the one wanting to converse about it but also didn’t want to take the time to become an expert.

‘WRITTEN FOR PEOPLE WHO DON’T KNOW SEVEN POINTS IS A TOUCHDOWN AND AN EXTRA POINT’

The duo began researching platforms to share quick news hitters and landed on digital newsletters. They began a “very iterative” process of creating weekly newsletters to send to family and friends. Senior, who earned her writing chops as a staff writer for The Harvard Crimson, created the content and Danneman made sure it was readable and attractive to the non-sports fan.

“It’s written for people who don’t know seven points is a touchdown and an extra point,” Senior says.

“It’s the things that are more nuanced that people really care about,” Danneman adds. “It’s not just knowing that Denver’s playing. It’s knowing that Peyton Manning sucks in the snow.”

AN UNLIKELY AFFIRMATION FROM VEGAS

So they began creating email newsletters to send to friends and family for feedback. Their families gave them the expected stamp of approval and support, but they began getting positive feedback from less likely sources. “People were reading the newsletter and talking to us about it,” Senior says. “It’s one thing to ask someone if they read it and then they say it was great. But they were coming up to us and talking about how much they liked it.”

Then a bigger affirmation came. Senior had shared a beta newsletter with her friend who worked at an East Coast casino and was attending a Law Vegas-based March Madness casino kickoff event.

“She arrived with all of these high rollers and was talking to the host casino’s head of marketing who was putting on the event and he didn’t even know what was going on with March Madness,” Senior explains. “She texted me later after the event and said he spent the whole event just reading our newsletter in the corner and kept referencing it in conversations with others that night and he loved it. That guy’s still a subscriber today.”

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