Who's That Gal x 2: Julia and Britt of Sports Ketchup
Boston is a top knotch city for entrepreneurs, students and sports fans. At our last Ladies Lounge event we were lucky enough to meet a gal that combines all three of Boston's famed features. Meet Julia, sports lover, entrepreneur, and a second year HBS student. Julia and her roommate, Britt, founded Sports Ketchup, a weekly newsletter that keeps you up to date on all the happenings in the sports world. Together they are determined to keep you informed so, you know, when that inevitable awkward silence happens in your next business meeting, you'll have a quirky fact to insert into the convo. We caught up with the girls to find out how and why they started Sports Ketchup...
Name: Julia Senior
Hometown: Boston, MA
Current Hood: Boston
Favorite Summer Activity: Paddle ball at the beach standing in 6-12 inches of water, or let’s be real, just sitting in my beach chair is good too
Name: Britt Danneman
Occupation: Great question
Hometown: Paradise Valley, AZ
Current Hood: San Francisco
Favorite Summer Activity: I’m lucky to be close to the beach this summer so I live for the feeling of collapsing on the sand after a long run and watching the waves crash.
You’re in the middle of Harvard Business School’s MBA program, congrats! What’s it like starting a company while in school?
BD: For us, business school has been a great opportunity to start a company. The school has so many resources for entrepreneurial minded students including access to experienced alums, professors, and other students. These resources have been tremendously valuable to us. It is also really useful to have a more flexible schedule so that we can do things like spend time in front a whiteboard brainstorming ideas.
JS: Being in an environment with so many different ideas flying around all of the time has made me more creative. We probably wouldn’t have thought to start Sports Ketchup if we didn’t have the capacity to be inspired that we do at HBS.
What inspired you and your co-founder Britt to start Sports Ketchup?
JS: Knowing I was a big sports fan, Britt would often ask me for witty sports related quips she could use with friends and family -- for example, “Peyton Manning sucks in the snow,” (which he does, by the way). After some time she talked me into writing them down and we started adding broader news and entertainment references to tie sports into a more familiar content. We want to make sure we’re focusing on the most important stories and doing it in a way that is enjoyable and accessible to readers that may not be fluent in sports jargon.
BD: Our goal is to empower people who don’t follow sports religiously to engage in the inevitable sports-centric small talk that is important for building professional and social relationships. We both previously worked in male-dominated environments and while it was second-nature for me to jump into the office sports banter, Britt and a lot of our friends can tell you stories about being stuck in the slow elevator with colleagues and wishing they could have read something like Sports Ketchup that morning.
Sports resources like ESPN and major news sources always seem to be very directed at men. Sport Ketchup, obviously written by two women, seems gender neutral, and slightly more targeted at women. Is this on purpose?
BD: Initially we thought 20-something professional women would be our target readers because that’s who we are, but we quickly realized that our audience is a lot wider than that. It turns out that being indifferent to sports is not something that is confined to women or people in their 20s. We try to use the cultural references that caught our attention that week, rather than what we think would play to a very specific demographic. Sometimes we’re interested in an election, sometimes it’s the newest tech product and yes, sometimes it’s Taylor Swift. We are happy to use all of that.
Why do you think keeping people up to date on sports is so important?
JS: You know those awkward three minutes at the beginning of a conference call when you’re waiting for everyone to join the line? Or when you’re at a bar chatting with people you just met? In those moments, it’s nice to know who is playing in game 7 of the NBA finals that night.
How do you always feed us with the most up-to-date news? Walk us through an average newsletter creation.
BD: It is an iterative process. Between the two of us we consume a lot of sports and news media throughout the week so we usually have a pretty good idea what we’re going to focus on. We get serious on Sunday at about 3pm though and are at it until late into the night. Many big sports events don’t end until late Sunday evening anyway.
JS: We spend a lot of time choosing stories that we think our readers will be able to talk about with their friends and colleagues. We have a few specific readers that we always try to keep in mind when we’re evaluating the relevance of certain content. Then it’s just a matter of debating what actually gets in, editing, editing, eating chocolate bon bons and editing again.
Favorite news story to-date for 2015?
BD: The US women’s soccer team delivering on some impressively high expectations and winning the Women’s World Cup. Plus there have been great cultural references that happened during the tournament that we were able weave into stories -- I want to be told I kick #LikeAGirl.
JS: 21-year-old golfer Jordan Spieth winning the PGA’s first 2 majors. The best feel-good story of the year.
As a shameless plug, all our past stories are archived on our website here.
What’s next for Sports Ketchup and what’s next for you both post graduation?
BD: We love writing Sports Ketchup and are excited to see what we can do with it. We think SK can solve a lot of people’s sports-conversation anxiety and we want to find every single one of those people and be in their inbox each Monday morning.
JS: We’re trying not to think as far as “post-graduation.” Ideally we can get HBS to extend the program for a third year!
To sign up for the Sports Ketchup newsletters, click here. (Psssst, we love them!)