As founder of the sports news and information site The Big Lead, Jason McIntyre has become a very interesting voice in the blogosphere. The former staffer at US Weekly founded the site as a hobby and grew it over time, breaking media stories and feeding the insatiable need for information, especially amongst the sports and entertainment fan. However what McIntyre did best was create what every young entrepreneur wants and should do, find a unique voice and build from there. Over time, TBL became a trusted and well visited information source for both fans and the media, breaking news stories like Stephen A. Smith’s departure from ESPN. He also became a rallying point for the blogosphere, when ESPN’s Colin Cowherd urged listeners to deluge and crash the site after McIntyre criticized some of the decisions ESPN was making on air. All along the way he continued to seek out and interview media newsmakers, including luminaries like NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and steadily built his brand from hobby to 24/7 business. The payoff for TBL came in early June when he sold the blog to top five sports media company Fantasy Sports Ventures for a reported seven figure deal.
McIntyre will continue to run and expand the site in the coming months, working closely with FSV head Chris Russo to craft his positioning and message, and may look to challenge sites like Deadspin for traffic and news at some point. We took a few minutes to ask McIntyre how he was able to do what many young people are searching for…find capital and grow a business in a challenged economy.
You started TBL as a hobby…when did you realize it could be a business?
Right around the time I quit my job to give the blog a full-time shot (December 2007). The checks I received prior to that were the type that could pay my phone bill, maybe.
What advice do you give any young people looking to grow a business in this economy?
A business as in a sports website? Or as in an internet business? Keep your day job and build the business on the side as hobby until it is ready for liftoff.
What are the common mistakes you see in the digital space and how have you avoided them?
In the sports website space, trying to be something you’re not is a common one; even more common are copy editing mistakes. I really should hire one. Luckily, readers are generally quick to let me know when there’s a typo/grammar error/etc.
Do you have a mentor or role model who you built your business model around?
The business model came to me while in newspapers – a blend of athletes on and off the field. The media angle I got from gawker, which I began reading from the outset. One of Gawker’s early targets was the NY Times. It seemed to work well.
I have a few mentors from my time in newspapers who I occasionally bounce stories/ideas off of. But I’d rather not mention them.
What is TBL’s biggest success and greatest mistake, and what did you learn from the mistake?
When you’re doing 10-15 posts a day, five days a week, 50ish weeks a year, you’re bound to make plenty of mistakes. In this my 4th year on the site, we’ve made countless mistakes, but like a cornerback in football, you have to quickly forget about the last play you got burned on, and move on. If the errors continue, readers could easily move on to a website with more of a focus on syntax and grammar.
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