Don't Say She Didn't Tell You...

For any women who are combing this article (and others), in hopes of becoming the next business mogul, or Forbes 30 under 30 star, you’ve come to the right place.

If you’re looking for a roadmap of how to navigate the deep waters of male-dominated politics, or conquer an industry that was never designed for women to begin with, you might want to start with our newest starlet, British-native Ishveen Anand. Founder of OpenSponsorship, Ishveen is a legend in her own right, demonstrated clearly in her landing her a coveted spot amongst the Forbes Sport 30 under 30 list.

Claiming the No. 2 seat, Ishveen is the creator and guiding voice behind OpenSponsorship, an online database that makes it easier for lesser known athletes to connect with big-name sponsors. Whereas today, local athletes lack the visibility to partner with major brands, OpenSponsorship democratises the process so that they have an equal playing field.

And where else to test the waters, than a country often overlooked in the sporting arena--namely India. Passed up very often in the sports market, Ishveen believes these athletes are long-due the opportunity to equally compete for sponsorships. This is certainly no easy task, but then again, nothing Ishveen does seems to be very easy.

Growing up in the UK as a child, she would go on to attend the prestigious Oxford University. Upon graduation, the budding new graduate moved to India to work for a sports agency. Here she represented teams and athletes alike, helping to foster sponsorships for popular regional sports--golf, hockey, and cricket to name a few.

But even with her nose-down, working steadfastly, Ishveen couldn’t help but notice an untouched marketplace. In March 2014, she took the leap, and began working on what’s today known as OpenSponsorship. By August of the same year, the platform went live.

So how did Ishveen’s make it to the Forbes 30 Under 30, over others who competed and failed? It’s hard to say decisively, but a couple things about her and her work-style are stand-outs.

For one, Ishveen is a (flexible) planner. The savvy business woman believes in short term goals, but argues staying open is imperative: “It's important to see what’s right for the company in the moment and if you stick to historic goals too much you wont be flexible enough to adapt to new paths”, she advises.

Second, Ishveen knows herself and her audience, and adapts her approach when needed. In the industry, she’s very aware of gender biases, and how they shape folks’ perceptions of her. “Being a girl in the sports world makes it easier to get noticed and remembered, but it’s harder to be taken serious at the senior level”, she once lamented. Her best advice is to be confident, and articulate your ideas clearly. As her advice might suggest, making yourself indispensable and knowing one’s value is key to drowning out naysayers.

Ishveen’s advice for women who seek entrepreneurship in sports is simple--learn about the industry, know truly what motivates you, and then develop your ideas by taking action. And for her parting words of wisdom? Don’t over-glamourize the startup lifestyle. “Being an entrepreneur sounds really sexy and fun”, but she advises starry-eyed protegees to first get the right experience before diving in. Our translation--to the pioneers and renegades brave enough to start a company, please do! By all all means possible. Do it with every fiber of your being. Just look a little to the right, and to the left before you swing wildly off the diving board.


Alana Brown