Ask Bill Rasmussen, and he'll probably tell you not to let the facts get in the way—meaning when someone says something can't be done, you shouldn't let that stop you.
As the founder of ESPN, Rasmussen knows what he's talking about. When he started ESPN in 1978, the concept of around-the-clock sports coverage on cable TV was unheard of—and yet he built that idea into the authority on sports news and events. Rasmussen, 75, hopes to do the same with his latest venture, CollegeFanz.com. Focusing on the world of Division II and III college sports, the site features traditional sports content—like scores, highlights and news—alongside a collection of social networking tools. Users can create profile pages, upload pictures and video, and even create their own sports talk shows.
Rasmussen sees a special untapped market in Division II and III athletics. As with the early days of ESPN, he's bringing little-known sports into the spotlight. "Just because they're never televised doesn't mean the games aren't good or there aren't people in the stands," Rasmussen says.
The thought of an online destination for college sports fans had been swirling around in Rasmussen's head for some time, but it wasn't until 2006 that he began bouncing the idea off investors to raise the less than $1 million in seed money he needed. He launched the site this past September.
The plan is to not only help fans celebrate their teams online, but also to work with Division II and III schools, allowing the schools to provide and upload their own unique content and split profits with CollegeFanz.com. Rasmussen says getting the schools directly involved with the site will enable it to build a dedicated fan base of students and alumni. "We'll be developing a new audience," he says. "We really do have something different." It's too early to say if he has the next ESPN on his hands, but with 2007 sales projected at $500,000, Rasmussen is on the right track.
—By James Park
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