Jenna Anians – Founder and President of Tribesports

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Jenna Anians -  Founder and President of Tribesports

Listen to your customers – every touch point that you have with them must be valued and utilized.

A keen cyclist, lacrosse player, and aspiring yogi, Jenna is the youngest of the founder team and a self-confessed ‘life hacker’. She is always looking for ways to carve fitness into her daily routine and experience multiple new sports and disciplines along the way.
Before joining the founder team at Tribesports, Jenna worked at UK web start-up mydeco.com where she worked her way through the ranks to head up retail, devising and delivering the commercial strategy, resulting in 500% YoY revenue growth for the business.

Jenna’s efforts and her progressive approach to retail – through integrated social media and multi-channel revenue growth and customer acquisition initiatives – was recognised within the industry when she won the ‘Retail Week Rising Star of the Year’ and ‘Retail Week Online Team/Individual Of The Year’ awards in 2009.

Prior to this, Jenna started her career at Conde Nast Publications within its Media Sales division and worked across both GQ and Vogue magazines.

Combining an innovative social commerce business model with sports and fashion means that Jenna has built herself her dream job at Tribesports.

Where did the idea for Tribesports come from?

Back in 2010, when we started the business there wasn’t a place where people could go to interact with other sports people around the world to get advice, share experiences and discuss their sports. A place where people could go and get information, motivation and support from fellow sports enthusiasts.

Over the past two years, Tribesports.com has grown to become one of the world’s largest sports and fitness social networks, with an active community of users who are passionate about their sports. We decided to give this global community a voice and use their knowledge to rip up the rule book and introduce a brand new community-powered performance sportswear range.

Technical sportswear is incredibly expensive and we want to make it more accessible to the real sportspeople around the world. The traditional sportswear retail model is laden with inefficiencies that add on unnecessary layers of cost, which in the end are passed on to the consumer, in the form of incredibly high retail prices. It is our aim to make high-quality, performance sportswear more accessible to real sportspeople, while also giving them real input into the development of the sportswear range which makes the experience of using Tribesports Performance Sportswear a truly unique one.

What does your typical day look like?

None of us really have a typical day per se. I normally start bright and early at 6am. I live outside of London, so combine both the train and cycling into work. If I’m on the train I use that time to catch up on emails or plan for calls/ meets, Once I’m in the office, every day is different. Whether it be talking production dev plans with our factory, sourcing new innovative technologies for future product lines, interacting with the Tribesports community, merchandising planning, copywriting, site testing, planning, marketing or partnership initiatives with the team, analysing site performance, or just about anything in between – always varied, always exciting and always busy. Oh and don’t forget our afternoon workout Core at 4 with the team.

How do you bring ideas to life?

The great thing about Tribesports is that as a community-powered sports brand, all of our ideas revolve around our community, the real sportspeople. Everything we do has to benefit them, involve them and add to their experience as a sportsperson. As such, bringing ideas to life is easy, because it is our community that really drive the ideas and shape what direction they take.

Take Tribesports performance wear. When surveying 1400 of our community, we found that over 70% feel like they are forced to make a choice between quality and price when buying their sportswear, while a further 82% said that their friends actually have more influence over what sportswear they buy than professional athletes do. It was the community of sportspeople that really brought the idea to life and they offered real validation that there was a demand for Tribesports Performance Wear and what it is that we are bringing to the market.

With the Tribesports Performance range, we will be all about transparency, sharing the entire product journey with the customers. Showing them where the products were made, by how many people, how long it took. Transparency really brings the idea to life and makes the product journey so much more interesting for the customer.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

Use of crowd sourced data to drive decisions and disruptive retail models I guess are the trends we’re focused in on just now.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Razor-like focus on building a consistent, memorable and unique brand experience.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

I dressed up as a giant cigarette for a promotional campaign to market Nicorette chewing gum. Learnings hmmm… work hard so I didn’t have to wind up doing that ever again?!

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

I don’t believe even if we started again now that the journey would be linear, so if we could change anything I’d say perhaps we’d have made quicker decisions earlier on some core things, but that’s all. It’s hard to argue with what the Tribesports Community have created. They have shaped the way Tribesports has grown and developed. The community-powered sportswear is just the next exciting stage that the Tribesports users have driven.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Listen to your customers – every touch point that you have with them must be valued and utilized.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

Using crowd sourced data to drive our decisions – for example when launching Tribesports Performance Wear, we decided to use the online crowd-funding platform – Kickstarter. This meant that if we failed to reach the funding target of £30,000 that we needed to launch our sportswear range, then we would have received none of the money pledged and would not have been able to put our sportswear range into production.

Our Kickstarter campaign proved to be a massive success. Kickstarter was the perfect platform as it provided the early stage validation that the idea needed; it showed that there was a demand for quality performance sportswear at affordable prices and that people would be willing to purchase it. It allowed us to involve early-adopter passionate sports people from around the globe at the very beginning to make our vision, the world’s first community-powered sports brand into a reality.

Kickstarter has really helped us to ‘kickstart’ (excuse the pun) our online store, as we are already shipping products to 1818 people who backed us on Kickstarter.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Hmmm… Ive always wanted an app where I could put in ingredients that I have in the fridge and it would suggest recipes. I have a great book called the flavour bible, so like an interactive version of that!

Tell us something about you that very few people know?

I solve most frustrating business problems when im asleep – I keep a notepad by the bed to write them down. Sometimes they make sense in the morning, sometimes they don’t!

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

Our new global store uses magento enterprise. Im currently in love with the freedom the admin CMS allows.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I’m a huge fan of Renegades Write the Rules, by Amy Jo Martin. She knows her stuff when it comes to social and she offers a lot of honest and useful insight – for example ‘show some skin’ – she works through the importance of being human and real to build an honest social relationship with your customers – definitely worth a read for anybody with a passion for social media/ brand building strategy.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

Tony Hsieh, Paul Graham, Seth Godin, Jason Calcanis, Kevin Plank, Arianna Huffington to name but a few!

Connect:

www.tribesports.com
Tribe Sports on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Tribesports
Tribe Sports on Twitter: @Tribesports

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This interview was posted by Mario Schulzke.
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