The Athlete Entrepreneur | Harry Hughes
Tell us about Dangler
Dangler is a marketplace platform made by anglers that will revolutionise the way that anglers buy and sell their fishing gear in the angling community. With secure in app payments, no listing fees, low commission fees and social engagement with other anglers, Dangler is paving the way to revolutionise buying and selling in the fishing industry. A business built from passion by 3 brothers who are all keen anglers.
Who came up with the idea & why?
Daniel, the middle brother, and CEO of Dangler has always had a creative flair compared to myself and Kane (eldest brother). I remember the day vividly; I had just come back from the gym and was sitting in Dan’s passenger seat parked up in the driveway. I had just sold an item on Depop (clothing marketplace) when Dan asked how it worked. I explained it, and at the time he had some old fishing tackle he wanted to start selling. Dan very quickly realised how effective a fishing tackle marketplace would be. That was the birth of Dangler…
What roles do the founders have and how good a team are you?
I was fortunate enough when starting Dangler to be a student, so I managed to work most days on Dangler, whilst my two brothers worked full time in their respective jobs. We all come from very different working backgrounds, which gives us very different capabilities. Dan is the CEO, he understands how the public should perceive us, and so Dan focuses on the external part of Dangler, i.e. what the public can see. Kane, is our CFO, he is a chartered accountant by trade, so it goes hand in hand, and Kane has the most corporate experience out of us 3, so he often works side by side with me on the operations. My job as COO, is to focus on the operations, making sure Dangler can do what it needs to, focusing on its legal requirements, HR, Recruitment and focusing on the technology with Kane.
What sort of investment have you secured?
So, the Dangler journey has been an amazing learning curve, none of us have started a business before, so it was all very new to us, but in a way that meant that being so naive, meant we wanted to learn more. We began by investing our own capital into the business, with that it enabled us to get through the door at a local business incubator (Shout About Suffolk) who made a £30,000 investment into Dangler, and gave us an office and mentorship, as well as open up many doors for us. From there, we set to raise our seed round. In August 2019, Dangler secured a £500,000 seed round, which meant we could start working full time, and push Dangler forward.
What are your long-term ambitions for Dangler?
The long-term goals are what drives us every day. We know what Dangler will become, and that is extremely motivating for all 3 three founders. The long-term goal for Dangler is to become a Global angling marketplace, the number one platform that all anglers will use all over the World. We certainly see that as a realistic outcome.
As a professional athlete with Olympic ambitions will Dangler affect your sporting career in any way?
We addressed this at the very start of Dangler, when we knew we were going down the long and volatile path that is a start-up business. I went to University so that I could train full time, my degree is now finished, and I suffered a major injury that lost me a year, so I still have some catching up to do, but realistically I would need to be getting a job now anyway, as unfortunately javelin throwing doesn’t pay for itself, neither does running a car and the rest of it…
My drive to become an Olympic athlete has not yet been thwarted by my drive to make Dangler a success, and vice versa. Balance and good organisation are key when trying to balance two major roles. It certainly won’t be easy moving forward, especially when you make it onto the professional circuit as an athlete, but, Dangler will always be prepared for that, and my passion for Dangler also means that I’ll always be involved and I will always want to work in the business. Sitting around all day in between training is not my thing unfortunately!
How has covid-19 affected your training / competition & Dangler plans?
First and foremost, Dangler has not been affected by covid-19, we had an early scare around investment and how long we would need to hibernate for, but that did not last too long. So, the world of Dangler has been extremely busy during covid-19.
Training wise, the impact has been significant. The Olympics and European Championships being postponed, put everything up in the air for a while, so we basically just kept my body ticking over for a 2-3 months, now we know there will be some sort of competition in August, we can re-focus. But, with staying at home much more and not driving around from work to training and everywhere else, the increased rest has had major positive effects on my training, and I’m definitely in good shape now.
What does the HH training schedule look like between now & 2021 Olympics?
My body has finally reached a stage of physical maturity and robustness following my major injury, that we can really start to push my training. So, it’s going to be intense and hard, but it will always be very smart and flexible, focusing on those weaker parts. So it will look mostly the same as normal, 1-2 sessions a day, 6 days a week. But the volume and intensity will no doubt increase over the coming winter season.
How will you look to manage the dual career role you have chosen?
Honesty! That’s what I’ve learnt is really key at the moment. There was a long period of time, where I was training full time, working full time, and studying for my degree, and that was really difficult to manage. But I learnt to be very honest about how I was feeling, because it wasn’t healthy anymore, I was just running myself into the ground. So, I changed my working patterns around to make it manageable, and that’s what I’ll do moving forward. Whenever something significant pop ups from work, I tell Mark (my coach) and we change my training around, and vice versa. Effective planning and honesty are how I’ll manage it in the short term.
Are you inspired by any other athletes who run their own businesses?
I know a lot of athletes invest into property during their career as a way to build their portfolio. I want to go a step further. Life is too short to not chase your dreams, and I believe that I can be a professional javelin thrower and own a part of a successful tech company, and I also believe that is only the start. So, I’d say I’m inspired by business owners more than athletes regarding this. Elon Musk owns and runs a handful of extremely successful businesses. It’s all about having a portfolio, and not putting all of your eggs in one basket, I know first-hand how vulnerable and volatile an athletics career is, and so my own goals are my inspiration really.
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