Despite what our scraggly facial hair would suggest (goodbye, corporate jobs!), we didn’t just fall out of bed and start Primer Sports. This is a quick history of the 15ish month journey from idea spark to launch.
The concept materializes
After moving to Atlanta to work as management consultants, we were constantly working with new teammates and clients. Sports were (naturally) a go-to source of smalltalk banter, and we used our knowledge and fandom to help form relationships with a variety of new people, both at work and socially. We found that the existing 24/7 sports media suite didn’t fully meet the needs of the population we became part of – professionals who worked hard during the weeks, had full lives on the weekend, and wanted sports to be part of their entertainment suite rather than dominating it.
The first time we knew we were both onto something similar was over beers at the Crescent Moon bar in Omaha during the 2014 College World Series (talk to us about Omaha another time if you want to get us fired up – it’s glorious). We talked about how everyone should be able to carry a good, quick sports conversation at work, how the media giants assume you follow all the time and already have a certain amount of knowledge, and how the interesting/conversational stories get lost for some people. In this age of instant news cycles and information onslaught, is there a gap for someone to curate and synthesize the actually important information, and share it with people in a way that’s accessible? The idea for Primer was born.
Test and refine
We started getting together on the weekends to bounce ideas around and discuss if this could actually be a viable business (jury’s still out – tell you in a couple years). We talked to people smarter than we are and did our homework (two great resources are ‘Lean Startup‘ and Y-Combinator’s ‘How to Start a Startup‘). Part of their advice was to quickly test, to get feedback from people we thought might use and love the product, and to try new things. We were brainstorming a twice-weekly e-mail; in the mold of theSkimm, but for more casual sports fans who didn’t need to hear from us everyday. In November we tried sending out our first e-mail – it went to 30 people, and we wrote it in Microsoft OneNote.
We continued our test e-mails and tried to have as many informational conversations as possible, which was often tough given the rigors of what we ironically deemed the ‘day job’ (since consulting has been known to eat into its fair share of nights). Weekends were crucial. We got really valuable input from friends and colleagues and triangulated our current focus – curating and producing content that helps people talk about sports at the workplace. We got a sweet logo, which is still probably the best thing our company has going for it (shoutout to Hanna Klein). In January we decided to launch Primer full-time before this football season.
Preparing to step into the arena
As time passed, our resolve to start Primer intensified. Now felt like the time – we couldn’t stop thinking about the idea and how we could create something that people would enjoy and utilize. It’s at the intersection of our passions and skillsets honed in consulting – distill and repackage information that people can quickly digest. We still had a ton to learn as we got ready (what is WordPress, anyway?), which was fun – prepping for the entrepreneurial grind meant a whole different kind of personal budgeting, too. It was certainly not easy leaving the people we’ve grown so close to at McKinsey & Bain, and we’re grateful for the companies’ support of our endeavor as we tried to be as transparent as possible about the planned exit.
And now, it’s hard to believe today is here. For a while our favorite analogy for Primer has been that we feel like surfers, watching that big wave approach but having to wait to ride it (we’re way less cool than real surfers, but you get the point). Now it’s time to finally see if we have what it takes. Thanks for reading and helping us make it happen – now let’s have some fun!