• Job title CEO and Co-founder, The Fan Area
  • Organisation The Fan Area
  • CourseThe Transformation MBA , 2017

Why did you choose Cranfield?

Before the MBA I was running a UK SME providing medical consumables to people with special care requirements. This role was a great opportunity to grow and develop my business acumen and a great stepping stone into allowing me to run JAFA today.

The alumni reach Cranfield holds was a strong pull. The alumni network is truly second to none in the UK - I have experienced this first hand, having completed the MBA, I can genuinely testify to how incredible it is! I choose to do the full-time MBA above and beyond any exec MBA programmes as I knew I wanted to live and breathe the MBA 24/7 whilst I was doing it. Cranfield being a campus based University gave this 24/7 opportunity above and beyond some other offerings. I was a self-funded student and benefitted from a scholarship from Cranfield. Despite significant offers from other leading business schools I chose Cranfield to complete my MBA here. The qualification is valuable but the learnings obtained at Cranfield past the piece of paper itself are significantly more valuable.

The focus on leadership of the Cranfield MBA was important to me. Accounting and economics and other staple MBA modules you can teach yourself from YouTube and other online resources but the leadership element was a fantastic and unique proposition I felt other MBAs could not provide. I am glad to say upon completion of the MBA that I have learned lessons about myself, how I lead and how different leadership styles can affect outcomes that will stay with me for life. 

>We took a six month tenancy with CUBIC between completing our MBA studies and being accepted into the accelerator in London. The space at CUBIC helped us greatly as it gave our business a home and a base-camp to allow us to begin our journey at a stage where money is tight. The facilities and environment were great for us to get our heads down and take our business to the next level!

What was Cranfield's impact

Currently I am running The Fan Area alongside my other MBA co-founders Omar and James. We have recently been accepted onto a competitive accelerator programme and have moved to central London. Our focus is currently working towards the launch of the platform scheduled for early 2018.

I had the business idea prior to joining the MBA. However, the idea was not yet fully formed and required some serious thinking and working through. My fellow co-founders all met together on the MBA and together we worked the business model and plan from idea inception into an actual business. There were lots of nights locked into spare lecture theatres using the whiteboards and projector facilities. Eventually we advanced the business idea to where we wanted it and managed to raise funding and launch the business in a full-time capacity.

We noticed that there are two problems that exist for sports fans today. On the consumer side fans flick between multiple apps to obtain sports news; discuss, debate and engage digitally. On the business side, businesses struggle to effectively target and reach sports fans, especially across different age demographics.

The Fan Area (trading as JAFA [Just A Fan’s Analysis]), is all about sports opinion and debate. Primarily focused on football, JAFA is the digital home for sports fans. Through our mobile app we provide the latest sports news and views in one place for fans. We connect fans with fans, fans with content and fans with businesses. Using our algorithms, machine learning, and some psychology, we provide a personalised and engaging experience for users whilst providing businesses with an effective targeted reach to those sports fans.

The Cranfield MBA environment holds fond memories for me. I have been able to get my business off the floor, supported by The Bettany Centre as well as CUBIC and other faculty at the University. I have met my fellow co-founders at Cranfield and had a fantastic year doing the MBA. The ability to speak to alumni, faculty and other colleagues whilst developing the business has been important. Since graduating our cohort still keeps in touch and there is a strong contingent now working in London. We keep in regular contact and often meet-up for dinner and drinks.

Cranfield is a fantastic opportunity to develop your business idea, model and acumen ahead of launching your own business. There are fantastic conversations to be had with alumni, faculty and fellow students. The MBA has not only helped me launch by business but given investors further credibility that I have what it takes to grow and successfully scale my own business. There is always an opportunity cost of doing the MBA. However, I am confident in the long-term that the MBA will stand-out in terms of attributing future career success.