By: Sandy Nene
Evans Parson is building his own dream – a dream that brings together his passion for soccer, his significant entrepreneurial skills, his training as a journalist, and his belief in digital media. This dynamic young man’s vision has resulted in the establishment of IB Soccer, a new media platform that’s keeping fans coming back to the site again and again.
Parson, who is 29 and single, grew up in Nelspruit before moving to Johannesburg to study journalism at Rosebank College. He tragically lost his mother during this period and started selling cars to fund his studies, which is when his love for selling and entrepreneurship was sparked. He graduated and soon the realisation that he could fuse his new-found skills and his love of soccer in a digital soccer news platform led him to establish Vensy Media, which owns IB Soccer.tv, in 2013. Parson’s digital soccer news channel was first named Ibhola Labantu – soccer for the people – but when the time came to expand into the rest of Africa, he found the name didn’t work. He changed the name to IB Soccer, as in ‘I be’ soccer, because “it’s all about ownership,” says Parson.
As he pursued his dream, Parson was identified by several organisations as a highly skilled and dynamic entrepreneur who was going places. He was given non-financial support, which included free office space, financial literacy skills and other business skills, by ABSA Enterprise Development Centre, and was then chosen to feature in their video as the most promising young digital tech entrepreneur.
He came to the attention of the National Youth Development Association, who gave him a grant in 2014 and in 2015, and Dimension Data invited him to their ICT Youth Incubator programme, which led to a business course through Unisa Business School and a diploma in SME Management for Entrepreneurs. He was also sponsored by Wits Business School for a short course on Opportunity and Research for Entrepreneurs.
Also in 2015, he was sponsored by Microsoft Biz Spark, which targets technical entrepreneurs for its programme, enabling him to migrate his website to an HTML5 responsive site. “With this support by Microsoft, I gained the expertise of running my digital soccer news channel, as well as access to mentors in the technology space that I had not experienced before. This in turn helped me shape my business model to one more focused on sales,” says Parson.
In 2015 he was selected to be part of Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship where he gained broad business skills in terms of growing his business, and in 2016 he was nominated as one of the 100 Top Young Bosses in SA by the Sowetan newspaper in their youth month edition. He has also been selected to be part of the National ICT Economic Chamber of South Africa.
Parson describes his big break as coming during the period of the Microsoft sponsorship, when IB Soccer attracted additional investment of both funds and competencies which are transforming and growing his business significantly. “We are a digital soccer news channel that provides local and international football news, fixtures, and transfers to the growing football market locally and abroad. We provide instant digital news through our innovative website which has fused internet TV and radio into one communication channel – that’s our value proposition to our fans or IB Soccer followers.”
IB Soccer employs three people including Parson, with a mission to be a leading mobile media and digital publishing company by causing a market disruption in the space of the mobile, web digital soccer publishing industry and to create 5 000 jobs in the next five years. “As we grow, we will provide our followers and fans with the best instant digital mobile publishing entertainment experience, 24/7. We will always go the extra mile for them – reporting information that will educate, inform and impact their lives. Our core focus is on looking after our fans.”
Parson says his definition of an entrepreneur is, “someone who understands that it’s all about believing in yourself, someone who is a risk taker, open-minded, versatile, driven to succeed, who constantly strives to improve his or her product, creative, and a hard worker – in fact someone who is willing to sacrifice their life.”
At the moment he is reading Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, which “helps me understand that building a business is about ideation, power of thought, desire, imagination, understanding the subconscious, believing in yourself, and having organised plans to execute within a timeframe.” He wants to be an inspiration to young people and to be known as a black entrepreneur who is successful and has a story to tell to the youth – “that whatever circumstances you face, it is not the end of the world.” Losing his single mother at 19 meant he had to grow up quickly, and get his business started with no family support.
As a soccer enthusiast, Parson is a keen supporter of Kaizer Chiefs and Manchester United in the English Premier League. His other interests include cooking, music, and reading. He is inspired by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, “because he achieved so much in a short space of time. I look up to him as an internet entrepreneur.” He is also inspired by a quote by Napoleon Hill: “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”