With a passion for sports journalism, and the drive necessary to be a successful young entrepreneur, Martin Caparrotta (MA Newspaper Journalism, 2011), together with business partner Kieran Beckles, founded and built The Sport Review website.
Originally having been started as a simple blog on which to practice their sports writing, The Sport Review has grown into an influential fan favourite with millions of page views every month.
Martin learned how to balance his studies and business early to maximise results from both. Soon after starting the website, he gained high-profile attention and received invites to important sporting events.
Find out more about Martin and how he started his business here:
Can you tell me about your time at City?
After having set up The Sport Review during my undergraduate studies, the website gained a small following. My business partner Kieran and I decided to pursue it as a full-time venture after we graduated.
However, I wanted to make sure that I’d be qualified to run the site full time, and also have a safety net if it didn’t work out, so I decided to do an MA in Newspaper Journalism at City.
The course was fantastic, even though it was probably the busiest year of my life up until that point! It really prepared me for life as a journalist. From court reporting to digital journalism, I learnt the skills first-hand that I would need to be able to manage my own publication.
What happened after you graduated?
We started working on the website on a full-time basis and focused on growing its audience. By mid-2013, the site was getting more than one million unique users per month.
We wrote about football, tennis, cricket and rugby union, while also managing the commercial side of the business at the same time. It was challenging at times but it was also highly rewarding.
As well as giving me the tools needed to operate as a digital journalist, the course at City also helped teach me how to think on my feet and while under pressure. We were required to solve problems and come up with solutions at short notice. For example, I often had to prepare for last-minute interviews with experts for news stories whilst having to do research out and about.
The skills I learned from this were particularly useful when it came to building some of the early commercial partnerships that we established with brands such as bet365 and viagogo.
How did your businesses come about?
Myself and my business partner Kieran had set up The Sport Review during our undergraduate degrees, whilst on a year abroad studying in Italy. We both wanted to be sports journalists and were looking for somewhere to practise our writing.
I continued to run the site alongside my studies at City. By that time, we were already gaining media access to some important sports events, such as the Champions League and Fifa World Cup host announcement ceremony.
I remember having to miss the last day of the first term at City to fly to Zurich to cover the 2018 and 2022 World Cup host announcement!
What has been the most rewarding experience?
I remember the first time I attended a Chelsea FC news conference. They were unveiling Andre Villas-Boas as their new manager in the summer of 2011. Most of the world’s media was there, and it was amazing just to be involved, let alone representing my own website.
Over the years, we’ve been incredibly lucky to attend events such as the Europa League final and London 2012 Olympics.
After the continued success of The Sport Review, we launched two new websites in January 2019.
Human Window is a new health, wellness and personal development destination.
helloBARK! is a new resource founded to provide pet owners with information, advice, tips and tricks when it comes to their favourite animals.
Both websites have been growing steadily and they currently have a readership of around 40,000 unique users per month respectively.
What has been the most challenging experience?
The first few months after leaving City were quite challenging. Kieran moved over from Ireland to live in London and there was quite a lot at stake for both of us.
It took time for the site to really pick up and in the meantime, all of my friends from my course at City had landed jobs.
There was plenty of self-doubt during that period, but we just kept pushing ahead – and I’m very glad we did!
Do you have any advice for anyone looking to follow in your footsteps?
It’s a cliché, but you really have to keep believing in yourself and moving forward, even when the times get tough.
If you really believe in what you’re working on, then it’s ultimately down to you to make the dream a reality.
Thank you to Martin for sharing his story! If you would like to find out more about Martin’s ventures, please check out his Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/martincap/) Twitter or LinkedIn!