Sportsmanias' Co-Founder Vicente Fernandez Talks Start-ups & Sports [EXCLUSIVE]
Sports dominate as one of America's greatest pastimes; the nation loves witnessing competitive physical activity that involve baseball bats, boxing gloves, hockey sticks, golf clubs, rackets and various sized balls. Spectator sports dominate Sunday, Monday and Thursday evenings, and hours go into fans researching and keeping up with their favorite sports teams and sports celebrities. Sportsmanias, an innovative twitter-based website, helps fans to better connect with their favorite teams and their favorite players.
Sportmanias is designed to be the fastest, easiest, most comprehensive and complete source of team news made available on the web or through mobile devices. The site was developed by Vicente Fernandez and his mother, Aymara Del Aguila of the advertising agency Aymara & Associates. Together, the two have mobilized a company that offers its users personalized access to sports information.
"We are the easiest because we are personalized, the fastest because we are Twitter-based, and the most complete because we have it all in one place. The initial idea for a social sports website actually came from my mom," said Fernandez, co-founder and chief content officer at Sportsmanias. "She called me my freshman year at the University of Chicago with the abstract concept; and I refined it to a digital platform that aggregated the Twitter feeds of local newspaper beat writers, who despite being the best sources of team news in the country have relatively small followings. We are the only sports website and app aggregating Twitter-based, professional newspaper content."
Fernandez developed the site with the knowledge that sports have a true impact on people's lives. Sports transcend borders and ensnare communities, giving fans something to look forward to each week and providing an opportunity for vicarious success. LeBron James excited the city of Miami with his stellar moves while playing with the Miami Heat, and Michael Jordan regularly stunned Chicago by defying gravity during his championship-raking time with the Chicago Bulls. The former quarterback Ken Dorsey of The Miami Hurricanes did the same for the city of Miami and Fernandez, by being smart and a true leader on the field, despite not having a strong arm. Fernandez practically grew up in the Orange Bowl, the Miami Hurricane's former stadium, and that love for the team sparked a love for football that would lead to him playing the sport throughout high school and his time at the University of Chicago.
"I played the game through high school, where I had the opportunity to be a part of the best team in my school's history, and at the University of Chicago, where we won a conference championship," Fernandez said during an interview with the Latin Post. "Playing football was a really important part of my life and it taught me a lot of lessons that benefit me today. I am looking forward to continuing to play recreational flag football upon graduating."
Sportmanias, which was conceived in 2011 and launched in October 2012, embodies the "craze of diehard fans and their favorite teams." During the months before the launch, endless conversations were held about everything from content to site design to brand strategy, in order to deliver a product that was complete and conceptually sound. Since the introduction of the site, every hour of every day has gone into maintaining the creative intelligence of the site.
"We are constantly rethinking our product, our competition, and trying to innovate. This leads to an evolving digital platform that stays ahead of the curve," said Fernandez. "Sportsmanias, like Twitter, is built off the belief that speed and personalization are critical to news consumption, and provide a huge service to people. We try to take that a step further by organizing Twitter content for the sports fan."
Fernandez and the 20-member team at Sportmanias have nurtured a site that: receives 1,000,000 unique monthly visitors; is ranked as the No. 8 free sports app in the iTunes Store; was featured as "One of the Eight Apps for Following the NFL Season" by MacLife; partners with Miami Herald; and is funded by Mas Equity Partners.
The Cuban-Venezuelan co-founder looked to the digital sports start-up Bleacher Report as influence when developing his site, but he also looked to his Latino background.
"Being a Latino has been one of my biggest influences in business. Understanding the hardships that my parents and my grandparents went through to give me the opportunities that I have is a driving force for me," Fernandez expressed. "I feel like I have been blessed with strong roots and I want to represent them well. Being a Latino, I also feel proud to represent a group of people whose values of hard work and entrepreneurship I try to embody."
Fernandez said that one of his concerns with the Latino American community is that second-generations (and so forth) are losing ties to incredible heritage and backgrounds, which he believes is important for representing roots and Latino success. The Spanish language and culture is part of the Latin legacy, and that knowledge gives him the drive to be a more ambitious businessman. The persistent spirit of Latino Americans is what's needed when starting a successful business. Start-ups promises ups-and-downs, but "if you're truly passionate about your business and you are persistent and flexible, you can make it with your start-up."
Sportsmanias will be launching a humor-focus Sportsmanias Youtube channel, and it promises to be a hit. Sportmanias.com readers and those who have signed up for the Sportmanias app are encouraged to sign up for the channel, and leave feedback. The Youtube channel, like the site, will provide a great service and lingering enjoyment.
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