People said I was crazy for moving my sports-technology company from San Francisco to San Rafael in 2015. They said I wouldn’t find good talent or investors outside of the city and Silicon Valley. I set out to prove naysayers wrong — again. And I have.
MYTH: CAN’T GET GOOD TALENT NORTH OF THE BRIDGE
I’ve learned that there are many misconceptions about doing business in the North Bay. One of which is that it’s hard to attract good talent to this side of the Golden Gate Bridge. I’ve found that it’s quite the opposite.
In reality, people who live in the Marina and other areas of San Francisco find it far easier to come north to San Rafael than to get to other parts of the city or the South Bay.
With buses, ferries and a reverse commute for those who drive, there are many options. Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) will create more opportunities for employees coming from Sonoma County. Our office is just a few blocks from the San Rafael train and bus depot, which is another selling point for our employees. And, we offer free parking.
It turns out that a lot of talent living in Marin would rather be closer to home versus spending time and money every day to commute. I’m one of them.
As a sports-technology company, we work with franchises across nine leagues around the world to help them better connect with and engage their fans. It’s a fun, fast-paced business that makes for a great internship opportunity for college students.
Since moving to San Rafael, we have worked with Dominican University of California to support our internship program, and we have tripled the number of applicants during that time. This includes turning three of those internships into excellent full-time hires.
In addition to developing a recruiting pipeline with a terrific local university, we are fulfilling our mission to give back to the community and help sustain the sports industry with young talent.
Several years ago, I made a strategic decision to support our recruiting efforts by covering health care premium costs and setting up a 401(k) plan for all our employees. In my experience, developing a strong company culture first is critical for the success of the business. Taking care of our employees has been one way to support that culture-building.
While the idea of investing in these extra benefits took some convincing for our board to embrace, it has proven to be invaluable for hiring great people. For our younger staff, this may be their first “real job,” and I’m hopeful they will appreciate the reduced health care costs that they can put back into their pocket.
MYTH: CAN’T GET GROWTH CAPITAL
Having proven that recruiting top talent is possible in the North Bay, I set out to dispel another big myth about doing business in the North Bay. This involves raising growth capital.
As a small company, we are reliant on venture capital and are fortunate to have found great financial partners right here in Marin. This includes Bay Angels, a Sausalito-based angel investment firm.
Several years ago, we were asked to participate as one of five companies in a Marin Independent Journal investment pitch competition. That’s where we met Roger King, founder of Bay Angels. He ultimately invested in our company and continues to be a supporter of our business to this day.
Jamie Pardi is CEO of FanCompass, a San Rafael-based company that currently works with teams in nine professional leagues from across the globe. Their FanCompass Sports Revenue Platform is translated into more than 15 languages.