Joy Des Fountain Co-founder myFanPark – The Joy of Connection
11 January 2021
Tech Founders, billionsuccess.com
With over 14 years’ experience as a CFO in both corporate and startups and now in her role as CEO of myFanPark, Joy’s ambitious vision has brought together an established team both internally as well as through international partnerships in key markets to setup the roadmap for success. Her bold yet structured approach has ensured a solid business framework.
Please tell us a little bit about your company – what is myFanPark all about?
myFanPark reimagines how fans connect with those they admire by enabling the famous and influential to uplift, inspire, and delight their fans with unique, personalized interactions.
After we merged with Silicon Valley-based celebrity engagement platform Starsona last November, we expanded our product offering beyond shout-out videos: from Live Calls, Q&A’s, DM chats, paid social media engagements, personalized merchandise to most notably, the ability for talent to create unique offerings and experiences for their fans. Think career advice from business leaders, a football star that provides video feedback on how to perfect a free kick to an aspiring young footballer, or even an admired chef offering personalised recipes.
Today, myFanPark represents over 2,500 talent from around the world, with a global footprint and operating offices in the USA, South Africa, India, Germany and Nigeria and soon to be launching in Singapore, thereby positioning us as one of the leading global sport and entertainment engagement platforms.
Tell us a little bit about your background and how you started your company?
I studied accounting, spent four years in auditing, and followed that up with twelve years in the corporate world holding executive financial roles for large global institutions. I was unfulfilled and frustrated. Entrepreneurship has always been in my blood and I’ve had a number of side hustles along the way, including one of South Africa’s first cold press juice companies as well as an expense management tracking application which was my first introduction into tech.
We started myFanPark for a number of reasons, but ultimately with the goal of building a business that made people happy through real and authentic connections. I often refer to a happiness equation which is: success = happiness = smiles – frowns. That’s how I got to where I am today and I’m reminded, even through some of the more challenging times on this entrepreneurship journey, that I am exactly where I’m supposed to be.
What are your plans, how do you plan to grow this company?
myFanPark’s growth strategy is focused around providing a global platform with local implementation, while unlocking key strategic relationships in our regions. This entails market, talent and fan acquisition. All of which we have particularly exciting strategies around.
What was the biggest problem you encountered building this product? and how did you overcome it?
One of our most challenging times when we started myFanPark was the reliance on some external service providers who didn’t necessarily have the correct skillset and care for the task at hand. This was overcome and the risk mitigated by bringing the correct skillset in house.
How do you separate yourself from your competitors?
Most players in the space offer shoutout videos, and some add DMs and/or live calls. With myFanPark, we have expanded our product offering to include social media engagements and selling of personalised merchandise. Most importantly, talent also has the ability to offer unique experiences that reflect their brand and/or talent. For example, a comedian can help a best man make a wedding speech just a bit funnier, musicians can offer feedback on song suggestions or fan demos, and actors can even help aspiring actors with their audition tapes. The possibilities are endless.
Also, our team is talent supportive. We help every step of the way – from onboarding to interaction creation – to make sure this is the safest and most successful platform for them.
Because we want a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship, we go above and beyond to make sure myFanPark can be integrated into the talent’s overall business plan.
What is one thing that you do daily to grow as an entrepreneur?
Listening. I read an article by Jim Joseph and he summed it up so well:
LISTEN TO YOUR CUSTOMERS.
Your first priority should be listening to your customers, understanding what they need so you can figure out how to add value. Business is about relationships, and relationships go both ways.
LISTEN TO YOUR EMPLOYEES.
They know more than you give them credit for. They may even know more than you — after all, they are on the front line and they know what’s going on.
LISTEN TO YOUR COMPETITORS.
Listen to your competitors, too. They are another insightful source of information, and they can give you a new, different perspective. Whether they are one step ahead of you or lightyears behind, pay attention to what they are doing in the marketplace. Analyze what’s working (and what’s not) so you can apply those lessons to your business.
LISTEN TO THE WORLD AROUND YOU.
None of our businesses or brands live in a vacuum. We are all part of a greater community that must coexist and collaborate with other businesses and communities around us. By accepting this and listening to the larger world, we can deliver more to our customers and employees.’
What are three books or courses you recommend for new entrepreneurs?
I love podcasts and whilst there are undoubtedly a number of great courses and books, below are the top three podcasts I’d highly recommend:
How I Built This with Guy Raz
Business Wars by Wondery
School of Greatness by Lewis Howes
If you only had $1000 dollars to start a new business, knowing everything you know now, how would you spend it?
On research and testing which are, in my view, probably the two most important steps in starting a business. Research, for the most part, is free. But spending the time to understand the market, the competitors, the capital requirements and the opportunity are critical to making some assumptions around the feasibility of the new business.
Then spend some time testing the assumptions and that is where I’d spend $1,000. Testing the idea on a small group, which will provide much needed data and insights to set you up for success.
What is your favorite quote?
“You are exactly where you’re meant to be.”
It’s so easy to get caught up obsessing over where one’s business needs to be in 12, 24, 36 months and be pulled into the competitive landscape in a fast moving world and wish yourself out of your current situation.
A key learning for me has been to understand that through the good but more importantly, through the challenging times, there are key learnings to be taken, many of which provide tools as we progress into the next cycle in our business or more broadly in our life.
During some of my really tough times in this startup journey, where I’ve been grappling with why we are dealing with certain challenges, I’ve had this overwhelming sense that these challenges are preparing me for far greater opportunities which not only gives me the strength to keep pushing through, but also the excitement to see what I’m being prepared for.
How can we get in touch with you?
The best way to see everything we’ve discussed here in action is to visit myFanPark and connect with us on Instagram.
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