The pandemic devastated the global economy. That’s well-known.
What’s not often discussed is the surge in new business formations.
Applications to start a business are nationally at their highest level in more than a decade, according to CNN. This comes at a time of cheap borrowing costs as well as digital disruption in technology, remote work and communication.
Benzinga chatted with serial entrepreneur and investor Danny Cortenraede this week about how he built the digital agencies Wannahaves and 433 into a 55-million-follower community, and his tips for succeeding in a new age of entrepreneurship.
About Danny Cortenraede
Raised in Amsterdam, Cortenraede began his career in the corporate world working in sales, strategy, and marketing at Vodafone Group Plc (OTC:VODPF), Sony Corporation (NYSE:SNE), Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and T-Mobile Inc (NASDAQ:TMUS).
During his career, Cortenraede said he was repeatedly drawn to the idea of entrepreneurship.
“My dad is an entrepreneur. My grandfather is an entrepreneur. I said: ‘OK, I really want to start a business.’”
“Enterprise Media is a production company I started with my former business partner. He’s very creative, while I’m strategic,” Cortenraede said. “We did a lot for Disney Channel — so television programs in the Netherlands at that time — and we worked for big corporate organizations like ABN AMRO.”
Cortenraede then co-founded NanoFixit, a nanotechnology liquid screen protector developer, where he said he leveraged his corporate relationships to scale distribution and development across Europe.
“After that, I started Wannahaves and 433, my most recent company I built from scratch. Wannahaves’ core business is creating content for businesses like Nike, Adidas, Puma, and all the big leagues like MLS.”
The content company has over 55 million followers in total and over 1 billion weekly views.
Most of the engagement comes through Wannahaves’ 433 brand, Cortenraede said; it's one of Instagram’s top sports-focused accounts measured by views and reactions.
The account is deeply rooted in the global soccer community and followed by over 16,000 professional athletes like Cristiano Ronaldo, Paul Pogba, Paulo Dybala and Usain Bolt.
“We’re creating content. We do commercials and social media management for corporate organizations like Intersport, a big retailer in Europe that does over $11 billion in revenue with almost 6,000 stores,” Cortenraede said.
Cortenraede's Keys To Running A Successful Enterprise
Cortenraede’s work leading global companies through numerous market shifts has afforded him a unique perspective when it came to breaking away from peers.
In his experience, team, market fit, funding, compliance with law and timing are the five keys to running a successful business.
“There are a lot of reasons why most entrepreneurs fail,” he told Benzinga.
“About 32% of companies fail because the team is not correct or there is a lack of passion. 28% fail due to poor market fit. Funding is only 14% — a lot of people think if they have money, they can scale a company, but that is definitely not true because you can burn a lot of money if you don’t think about the value proposition. 24% is legal issues and timing.”
In his latest project, Wannahaves, the founder said these dynamics are all aligned.
“I have a lot of passion for digital marketing and sports. I already scaled a production company, and the market is growing 20% per year,” he said in a discussion that stressed the importance of following your passion and building engaged audiences.
“You can talk about numbers, but it's really about the engagement and having a strong relationship with your community,” he said.
Brands need to be on point with their messaging, taking the long road when it comes to making money, Cortenraede said.
“For example, if a company wants to pay us to sell watches or whatever, we decline that. We don’t do that. There needs to be a sweet spot between the brand and your community.”
Cortenraede On Staying Nimble In Volatile Markets
The coronavirus disrupted the economy, with 60% of the businesses closures driven by the pandemic becoming permanent.
Adapting to changing market conditions is essential, especially in the new age of entrepreneurship, Cortenraede said.
“You need to think about how you can take advantage of the situation and move forward. Social media and digital is super important.”
Content strategy is paramount, as is thinking about what problems your customer needs solved, he said.
“For example, as an official partner for MLS — working closely with the LA Galaxy — we’re thinking about how we can help those companies.”
“60 to 70% of their revenue is ticket sales. That’s all gone because the fans can’t join the games. So, they need to think about how they can reach fans at this moment. How can we monetize and still be in contact with our community?”
Cortenraede’s solution is to look at new sources of engagement, like esports and sports betting.
“As an official partner for EA, you see us in the FIFA games with 433,” he said. “When COVID hit, we had a lot of campaigns for the UEFA Euro 2020 soccer tournament that’s been postponed to 2021. As 433, we organized an esports tournament and invited the biggest athletes.”