The Hookup: Mad Money’s Jim Cramer and Kyle Scott of Crossing Broad
Welcome to the first edition of The Hookup, a monthly series where we match young innovators with successful business people to provide mentorship and an exchange of ideas. We’ll match a young techie creating an app in his or her dorm room with a startup founder that’s already created a successful app. We’ll match that wide-eyed 23-year-old who wants to work for the Phillies with a seasoned exec that’s already paid their dues. Let us know what you think in the comments, and if you want to be part of a future Hookup, email email@example.com.
The Entrepreneur: Kyle Scott, founder of Philly sports blog Crossing Broad. The site has broken national news stories, created a nice following on social media and is generating revenue. Where many before him have failed or sold their blogs to corporations, Scott still owns 100 percent of Crossing Broad. Plus, it’s stayed true to its mission of representing the no-nonsense, irreverent Philly sports fan.
The Mentor: Jim Cramer, host of CNBC’s Mad Money and co-founder of The Street, a website offering stock advice and business news. He’s also a rabid Philly sports fan and knows his way around a good sports blog.
The Business Challenge: Scott, 31, can’t continue updating the site 24/7 or he’ll keel over from exhaustion. He’s also concerned that he’s taken sports blogging to its limit and hopes to conquer other verticals like news and entertainment. His “pie-in-the-sky goal” is to become the Gawker of Philadelphia.
During our session, Cramer was in “brainstorming mode” and offered these pieces of advice to Scott:
1. Stick With Sports
Cramer’s Advice: “I love the way you are. So I thought, does he really want to go wide like that? Or do you go deeper into the sports vertical, because you’re in the most successful vertical? Obviously if you want to go art and music, you can because Philadelphia’s an unbelievable city, but in the end, you own this incredible vertical. You’re Grantland [at an early stage], and Grantland is the most successful site of all time.”
Scott’s Reaction: “I think his advice about sports and the size of market has made me take a step back. I thought that I can’t grow much more in sports, but his point is that sports are huge in Philly. Think about it, there are two radio stations and one TV network devoted to just to sports. I feel like I’m probably underestimating how much money there is in sports. We should do more with audio, video and fantasy because Philly is a good sports market and a great place to grow the business.”
Bottom Line: For now, Crossing Broad is sticking to what it does well — sports.
2. Curate the Best Tweets About Philly Sports
Cramer’s Advice: “There are too many athletes that are tweeting, and too many important people in Philadelphia that are tweeting. All I want is a Twitter file where I read the guys I like. I want to read about everything Eagles and everything Phillies. I want to go to your site and check a box that says “Eagles” and you will push me everything you think is important about the Eagles. Then I’m done.
“Right now, it’s catch as catch can for me. And it pisses me off because I don’t want that. I want one guy that’s doing it all for me. And I don’t know anybody who would do it better than you.”
Scott’s Reaction: “I love that idea. To a degree, we pull out the cool and goofy stuff we see on Twitter already. There’s a definitely way we can do this. It would be a place where people could pop in for two minutes and get all the information they need.
“Everyone has Twitter and if we can figure out a process to monitor that and make it a side site or separate site it could really work. With interns or younger employees, I’m never sure what roles to give them, but curating tweets and working on user-contributed articles would be great.
“It would definitely have to be something a human curated. No search term or hashtag will be able to do it because there’s still a lot of junk mixed in with useful stuff. It needs people on the back end. Think about it, Apple and Beats are curating playlists and they’re done by humans.”
Bottom Line: Expect Crossing Broad to give this some serious consideration. As long as they have the manpower, it’s something Scott says is on the top of his to-do list.
3. Create a Philly-Based Daily Fantasy Sports Competition
Cramer’s Advice: “I keep thinking that there’s got to be a daily fantasy league where it’s all Philadelphians going against each other. You can call it Philly FanDuel. Then you build a radio show around it — and a radio show on the web doesn’t cost anything. Now you have this inexpensive medium and a rabid fan base. You could interview the winners on a daily basis. Remember there’s a winner everyday on FanDuel and DraftKings.
“Philadelphia’s got personality. You might have one guy who wins for five straight days. Don’t underestimate the millions of people who are on FanDuel and DraftKings. I bet there’s a sizable population in this region. It may be as many as 80,000 people playing Fan Duel in Philadelphia. You’ve got to get them.
“That could maybe pull in a couple million in advertising. And it’s the best kind of content because it doesn’t cost you anything because other people are generating it. Maybe on a Saturday, you host the radio show from a bar trying to make a name for itself. Then you could blow that out into other cities.”
Scott’s Reaction: “I think Jim and I are playing at different levels in terms of advertising. If I did a couple million in advertising, I would do backflips until I can’t see anymore.
“I agree that daily fantasy is huge. The question is trying to figure out a way to leverage it. I’m not really sure a local competition provides people any more incentive to play. They’re still plying against people anyway. I’m not sure the angle of competing against other people in Philly really matters unless we can work with the companies and get a prize everyday for these people.
“A radio show and podcast is good idea but i think it would be more along the lines of what Jim does giving stock tips. We could give fantasy tips. Most fantasy shows are focused on a long season, but now it’s daily. If I went that route, it would be getting knowledgable people with targeted information about fantasy. But I don’t know if I want the logistical headache around organizing a fantasy league at this point.”
Bottom Line: Don’t expect Crossing Broad to host a Philly Fan Duel competition, but you should expect more information geared toward daily fantasy sports players.
4. Aggregate Hotel and Restaurant Reviews
Cramer’s Advice: “If you wanted to branch out from sports, here’s a way to do it. When it comes to reviews on restaurants, hotels and other things, everything’s bought and paid for. If you Google “Philadelphia hotels”, “best Philadelphia hotels” or “hotels in Philadelphia downtown,” you get the same sites. The web’s been so tainted that you can’t Google a hotel in Philadelphia that you want without getting to an Expedia or Travelocity or to a hotel that’s paid off Google. They are all sites that are completely advertising supported where you’re driven to a hotel that bought the space. The feeds have been so corrupted.
“On your site, you say ‘We’re pure. We make our money through advertisements away from the vertical.’ And you’ll be able to monetize it because people are so fed up with Google trying to make so much money from everything.”
Scott’s Reaction: “At a high level, I like the idea and the concept. It’s similar to curating the tweets and news about Eagles and very much in same realm as curating all that noise. There are so many reviews out there. How do I just get to the bottom of it? That said, it’s a lot different than what we’re doing now. It’s more of a leap. It’s a good idea but a little more time intensive
“My first thought is to keep drilling down on sports. I can go a lot deeper. If we start generating more money and become a big media outlet, then we can play with stuff like that, but we’re multiple steps away at this point.”
Bottom Line: Expect Crossing Broad to stick with sports and grow larger, but when they do branch away from the vertical, reviews are likely to be part of it. But that’s not going to happen for a while.