Exclusive Interview with the founder of the first Fan Connection Platform in the world

Goran Milošević is the founder of the first fan connection platform, officially known as ‘FANNECTOR’. FANNECTOR is ready to revolutionise the football industries digital marketing activities. Goran has worked in a wide array of industries including banking, sports betting, and SaaS. His journey into sports is a unique one and he has provided a phenomenal story on his potential to almost becoming a professional footballer, where the inspiration for a game-changing initiative came from and his sports industry recipe for success. 

Credit to http://www.fannector.com for the image

Q: How did your career towards the sports industry begin?

A: I am a football fanatic since birth; I began playing for a club at six years old, and at eleven years of age, I got pretty good and ended up being scouted by AFC Ajax. Unfortunately, due to injuries with my knees and Achilles heel, I could not pursue my dream to become a professional footballer, so I started to look for other ways to add value to football clubs.

In 2003, I went to the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences to study Sports Management and Marketing. In that time, this was a new and unique course in education, and I knew it was precisely the right one for me. After graduation in 2007, It was very difficult to enter the sports industry as the industry favours ex-players rather than people with a University degree. Therefore, I looked for jobs that had connections to the industry, and I ended up working at ABN AMRO Bank in 2007. They were sponsoring AFC Ajax and the ABN AMRO Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam at that time. My thoughts were that through my entry-level position, I could grow towards the sponsoring department and be more connected to sports. Due to the global banking crisis in 2009 – 2010 I could not pursue those thoughts, and additionally, I started to develop a huge interest in digital marketing. In 2010 I turned this interest into a first digital marketing job. Fast-forwarding, I am currently having ten years of digital marketing experience in big sports-related companies like Bwin, Cashpoint and BGT. My main tasks in these ten years have been focused on growing, innovating, and utilising (sport) businesses through digital marketing channels. Two years ago, I started seriously to think about how I could combine my obsession for football with my love for digital marketing, and in April 2020, I turned my thoughts into a product called FANNECTOR.

Q: Tell us more about how FANNECTOR brings value to the football industry?

After analysing 10 – 15 thousand emails, 50 websites, 200 social media channels and approximately 100 club apps, for two seasons, I noticed that football clubs are claiming to be data-driven. However, they are only sending generic, mass, and low-value content to fans and their digital (sponsoring) value is close to ZERO! Additionally, football clubs place a lot of emphases on the amount of social media followers and engagements on which they cannot capitalise because these are ANONYMOUS FOLLOWERS and not fans!  This is where FANNECTOR comes in. FANNECTOR is an innovative and digital software solution which enables football clubs to:

  1. Turn anonymous social media followers into identified fans.
  2. Generate, collect, analyse and, most important: OWN in-depth engagement data to understand the WHY behind the engagements.
  3. Create 360° fan profiles combining offline and online engagements together to understand each fan personally and offer hyper-personalised content to each fan.
  4. Offer DIGITAL and MEASURABLE sponsoring opportunities to companies which improve the club’s sponsoring value.

Football clubs think they are data-driven, but the harsh reality is that they are not! I believe that OWNING data is crucial for football clubs in the long term. Google and Facebook have proved this by generating yearly revenues of 1.200 billion USD! Being dependant on platforms like Google and Facebook, which own football club data, is not sustainable for clubs because their digital value will be 0% which is very concerning considering the fact, that our world is turning more digital each day! Therefore, FANNECTOR is and will continue to be very valuable for the football industry!

Q:  I can see you have worked in multiple sectors before entering sport, what were some of the transferable skills you built up?

A: I did not have a vast plan behind it; however, I always tried to work for companies that have some connection to sports. As I progressed through my career, I identified that digital marketing was something I was passionate about and decided to dedicate more time towards it. I also recognised that this would be the future. I wanted to ensure that I continued to increase my digital marketing knowledge and experience as this would one day be a very useful skill to possess.

Working with platforms like Google, YouTube, and Social Media channels, I started to think about how I could use my skills and transfer this into the sports industry. I have a creative and problem-solving mindset, and I am a firm believer that there is a solution for (almost) everything. For example, Google and Facebook ads are generating billions through digital marketing, but football clubs are only sending generic, SPAM emails which have a very low value to fans and sponsors. This inspired me to look for a solution which enables the sports industry to add more value to fans, sponsors, and the organisation itself.

However, the most important skills for me are passion and determination, and these are skills that everybody can possess and are not industry depending.

Q: What was your strategy to build up your sports industry network?

The sports industry is a very closed industry unless you are an ex-player, so there is not a proven strategy that works. I believe that first, you need to be able to offer additional value to the industry and secondly, you need to keep on knocking on all doors, and eventually, one will open. As I’m trying to change the mindset of the industry how digital marketing is being done, it will be crucial for me to find the first club with my vision and then I am sure many other clubs will follow within one year once FANNECTOR proves it’s value.

I am currently very active on LinkedIn, where I am trying to connect with professionals in the top 20 football leagues, and I am writing and posting articles about fan CONNECTION instead of fan engagement.

Additionally, I also would like to start participating in industry events like the World Football Summit and Soccerex. These are excellent opportunities to meet industry leaders and to spread my important message into the industry. However, due to the current state of the world, this will most likely be postponed until next year.

Q: Throughout your experience in sport, what have been the fundamental values that have allowed you to sustain a progressive career?

The core values are determination, belief and hard work. Your road to success, whatever success means to you, is not a straight line. It will be bumpy and often disappointing; however, if you are determined and keep on going, you will succeed.  

Additionally, you need to believe in yourself and your value for the industry. If you do not believe in those two things, then nobody will! There will be many people, even in your personal surrounding, that are “naysayers” and tell you to stop. When things get challenging, always try to remember the reason and why you started your journey. For example, I started with a simple piece of paper, which I still have to this day, and began to draw FANNECTOR out. This paper still motivates me each day because I see how the product changed from that initial design to what it is today. Also, by believing in yourself, you change your mindset from being scared to fail and what people will say about you if that happens into I cannot fail because I can only learn something by doing it.

Finally, hard work. To be able to be confident and keep on going, you need to put in the hours. Educate yourself on your industry, gather and analyse information and grow your knowledge. I recommend speaking to many people from different backgrounds and industries, absorb their perspectives and think about how you can use that to improve your product or road to your success.

Q: From your perspective, what advice could you provide for someone eager to break into the industry?

Set yourself realistic and reachable goals, be determined and understand that reaching your goals is never easy and comes with bumps and disappointments. Find your passion and try to perfect this so that you can add value to the sports industry.

Do not see working outside of sports as a negative; it is more important to gather skills and knowledge which are needed in the sports industry. The sports industry is not the most innovative industry. Therefore, by working outside the industry, you can become a valuable person for the sports industry due to your broader perspective and experience outside of the sports industry. Always keep in your mind: what am I doing today that will bring me closer to my goals.

Goran has touched on the essential points to build a prestigious career in an ever-growing industry. Do not be afraid to enter the industry away from the traditional path of only working in sport. The industry has evolved into a global entertainment business and will welcome each person that can add value to the industry. Remain determined and be ready to face adversity as (professional) life is never a straight line with only success. Keep on believing in yourself and your journey, and you will reach your goals!

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Published by Ash

I'm a First-Class Graduate in Sports Business Management who has worked across Local Government, Sport and the Third Sector. Throughout my career, I've developed a thriving passion to promote sport being used as a tool to bring positivity to the world we live in. This ethos has inspired me to create a website which champions this value through comprehensive online content for you to gain value from. Join me on this journey of discovering what sport can do to enhance society.

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