Chris Shaw of LineAdvisor: "SubHub Gives Me The Right Balance"
LineAdvisor is a subscriber service which provides quantitative line analysis, uniquely assessed team and conference rankings1, and value-graded odds-based recommendations to the sports enthusiast community. Members subscribe monthly to gain access to the sports metrics and picks section.
Chris Shaw, Principal Owner of LineAdvisor spoke to SubHub and revealed what’s important to his business and what he’s learnt since joined us in 2011.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, your background and why being an entrepreneur is working for you?
"I grew up the middle child in a middle class family, and I was a mid-quality student. My single greatest leg up in the world it is that I am naturally an independent thinker. This has served me well in my personal life, my former corporate life, and now as an entrepreneur. I am willing to look at new or unorthodox approaches to old concepts and theories. Not that I necessarily discard prevailing ideas…but that the approach that has served me best is to assess and develop concepts and projects with fresh eyes, in my own way."
How do you run your business successfully? What’s most important in successful entrepreneurship?
"LineAdvisor is actually only a piece of a larger [off-line] analytics business…just one of the ‘products’ it produces. But it fills a critical digital component, one which I most needed help in developing. Web development, promotion, and management represented a learning curve for me. And SubHub has been a crucial partner, as the platform has enabled me to ‘most painlessly’ reach a retail demographic I couldn’t otherwise reach."
What’s the best advice you can give (starting) entrepreneurs?
"I’m a seeker of wisdom, not a seller of it. But since you ask, I’ll cringe and give it a shot. I think the web environment is so freeing it prompts most people to want to just jump in and go headlong into an idea. But my sense is that approach was more appropriate in the “internet 1.0” world of the 90’s and 2000’s. In this era, I think doing solid due diligence relating to direct and peripheral competition, realistic pricing, startup time, maturation lifecycle, etc., is a stronger mode of idea/business development."
What would you do different business wise if you could do it over again?
"I would DEFINITELY have hired others who have better competencies in areas where I have blind spots. My reason for NOT doing that? I have a hard time trusting that things will be done my way, or that I will lose control of the project. But half of the benefit of taking on partners is the injection of fresh ideas, in addition to whatever critical competencies they bring. I wish I’d have recognized [and accepted] this sooner."
What led to you to setting up your site?
"I knew I needed a digital presence. When I found SubHub I decided the platform gave me the right balance of services, and frankly, hand-holding, that I would need."
How involved were you in developing the website, and did you have any experience in creating a website before?
"I was hands on, doing user acceptance testing myself as development progressed." How hands on are you with updating your site? Do you create everything yourself, do you have any staff, or do you outsource? "I do the majority myself, outsourcing design aspects only, on a batch release basis. But the critical concepts, layouts, and daily updating is all on me."
How much time do you spend updating your website?
"About 20 minutes a day."
How do you interact with members and what’s the key to keeping them happy?
"LineAdvisor is a secondary product for me, of sorts. The broader analytics business requires much more hands on work. So in order for me to be able to manage the entirely of it, the LineAdvisor site needed to be as meta-driven as possible. The SubHub platform makes that happen, and as such I don’t have to deal with my in a piecemeal manner. The keys to keeping clientele happy? Up-time, and the quality and timeliness of my updates."
Now that you've created a website, how do you make money from it?
"I sell subscriber access. Admittedly, this is a secondary aspect of my broader business, and is still largely in its infancy, despite a few years running."
What has been the most effective way to drive traffic to your website?
"WOW. The Holy Grail question. The answer is, it’s tough. I employ click advertising and SEO…and in truth, I’m never quite certain of what works to what degree. This is an area in which I still need much improvement."
You’ve created a community of people who are interested in what you do. How important is that to you? How do you manage and maintain this community. And what possibilities does this community create for the future (of your business)?
"I see what the LineAdvisor site does as a very specific function within my broader business. So in terms of how it should evolve I see that mainly on the basis of (A) how the site looks and navigates, and (B) what other sports I should be looking to add (I’ve been exploring soccer and Canadian football for some time)."
What can people expect from your site or company the next 6 or 12 months? (any new features, services, etc.)
"A side-bar focus on ‘daily fantasy’ analytics, which is an area of rapid growth in the United States. Beyond this, if I were to venture into soccer it would undoubtedly begin with a pilot focus on the English Premier League. Even in the United States it garners a great degree of interest."
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Discover more about Line Advisor at www.lineadvisor.com