AMA: Jim Law, founder of Find a Player

Moving to a new place can be daunting, but joining a local sports club is a great way to get stuck in and involved with the local community.

That very challenge inspired Jim Law to found Find a Player, a sports app that helps players find local games and teams. 

jim law

Hi Jim! Tell us a bit about your company.

We're a platform/network for connecting grassroots sports. We help players, clubs and games to find each other. We also help them do all the weekly event admin such as sending out invites, tracking numbers, group chat, payment collection etc.

How did the idea for Find a Player come about?

The same way as most businesses, it was a personal pain point. I moved into a new city and lost all my games of football, my badminton club and the guy I played squash with.

It wasn't easy to quickly find new ones and I realised that there was a need to connect the different sides of the market in the same way as Uber does for cabs or JustEat does for food. It grew arms and legs from there.

What motivates you?

I fundamentally believe in what we're doing and I'm committed to making it work - I don't really care how hard it is or how long the journey is. 

Grassroots sports delivers a huge amount of value for society both for mental and physical wellbeing and I think it's been massively underfunded, underappreciated and taken for granted.

Hopefully, since the pandemic people are starting to realise how important it is and seeing that we should be doing more to make it open and accessible to all.

I want to make it as easy as ordering a takeaway or a cab and as a business we really want to support and empower all the sports that don't have the funding and coverage they should.

Photo Credit Colin Donald

Fantastic. What is the biggest mistake you've made as an entrepreneur?

How long have you got? Probably the biggest one is not getting an MVP of the product out earlier, and instead trying to make the product all singing and all dancing from the outset.

We could probably have cut the initial functionality down considerably - but I didn't (and still don't want) to restrict the vision of what I think this business could be. I should've realised we could do it in stages to get it out there and get it moving.

But in all honesty, every decision I've taken has been in the best interests of the business at heart. You're never going to get them all right and you're constantly learning and growing.

How I'd do it now, with the skills we've built up since the outset, is totally different, but that's just the journey you have to go on when you're doing something that you've never done before and trying to build a product and business that's never been successfully scaled before. It's hard!

Hard work but worth it. How would you describe your business philosophy?

I always try to think long term so we build a business that is stable and scalable. I apply the same methodology to partnerships and relationships.

I like working with people and also partners who act with integrity and honesty - not just what they can get it out of it for themselves. We have a full document on the vision and values of the business.

On that note, how do you keep your team aligned?

One of the key things for us is making sure the values of any new team member are aligned with the business values before we hire them. Most things can be coached but if your values are fundamentally different then that's hard to overcome.

After that, we always try to have open discussions and communications about the direction of the business so even if people don't always agree with something they understand why we're doing it and have at least had the chance to offer their opinion on it. 

Ultimately the decisions will come down to the exec team of the business but we always try to operate a meritocracy and respecting everyone in the team's opinion - even if we don't always act on them. Then other times you just need a big stick!

womens-hockey

Do you have a share or option scheme in place for your team?

No, we don't but it's something we'd like to do. We looked at it before with a solicitor but it seemed really complicated and the cost was quite restrictive.

Not to toot our own horn but it's easier than you think. Check out this guide to see how straightforward share schemes can be.

Can you share any practical tips or processes to help people work remotely?

I think constant communication is key and then having the right tools so your team can collaborate and operate everything digitally.

We've had 5 new team members come on since the pandemic started and I actually haven't met any of them in person yet. So while you can make it work I don't think you'll ever replace face to face.

I've no doubt that standard working practices will be fundamentally shifted to be more flexible and partly remote (which is great) but it's also just great to have all the team in one room and be in the same place for some of the time. I don't think that team dynamic can ever be fully replicated online.

Remote teams have to work harder to forge connections for sure. Do you have any pets? 

We used to have 2 cats called Gus and Terje, but we hardly see Gus. He more or less moved out when we had our second son - we found out that about 4 different families in the street were all feeding him.

Gus and Terje

Terje has probably shown his arse to just about every person I've ever been on a zoom call with. He's massive and he likes to come and stand in front of the camera and try to lick me.

cat working from home

And finally Jim, what does a Friday night look like to you?

I'd love to give you an inspiring answer but at the moment it's sitting on the couch with the wife watching Friday night tele and eating a takeaway. I realise we should be doing Pilates and learning Spanish but sometimes you just need a pizza and a beer and to switch the brain off for a bit.