Many people are surprised that our team is actually very small and totally virtual (well the people do exist obviously, we just don't have a shared physical location!).
We started out in my own house in a little residential street in Wimbledon with just me. After about 9 months I was joined by various friends who were at loose ends and eventually settled with a core group of Sarah, Alexa, Katie and my dog! I know our products look like they come from a big organisation but that's the joy of what you can achieve using the flexibility of the internet.
I began my professional career training as a physiotherapist at Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge and then went on to complete a degree in sport and exercise science at Birmingham University. I then took a job as a medical journalist on two weekly publications Doctor and Hospital Doctor, published by Reed Business International. My boss was someone I grew to have huge respect for, and she subsequently became something of a mentor as well as a trusted friend, an added bonus on top of a job I absolutely loved!
Having something of an obsession with sport and physical activity, I coerced one of our sales team to come with me and propose a sports medicine supplement to one of our friendly pharmaceutical sponsors. Our endeavours were successful and resulted in a one-off supplement covering articles on both sports injuries and the benefits of physical activity for populations with medical conditions. The supplement was popular with GPs and Novartis Pharmaceuticals, the sponsor, went on to fund two further supplements (for which I will always be grateful). We'd hit on something and the seeds of sportEX had been sown!
Knowing there were many more potential readers out there among physical therapists and other allied health professionals, I boldly and naively proposed to my boss’s boss that we launch a brand new publication on the subject. My suggestion fell on deaf ears and a few days later I resigned to set up my own company. That was in September 1998. Eight months later sportEX medicine hit the doorsteps of more than 7,000 GPs. Considering I was a junior journalist when I resigned, and knew absolutely nothing about publishing a magazine when I started, I hoped this was a reasonably good achievement. Little did I know (probably very fortunately at the time) that the long hours suffered in the previous months were only just beginning!
Our team has waxed and waned during this time due thankfully to healthy things like marriages, births and shifting locations, and sportEX is basically run by myself, my very trusted and brilliant designer Debbie and until Sept 2011, Sandra who came to cover 6 months maternity leave and left 7 years later when she eventually forced me to let her retire! Our editors and authors are all full-time practicing professionals scattered across the world, because arguably the most important factor to me will always be practical application. I'm supported by an incredibly brilliant and thorough sub editor, Alison Sleigh, along with my technology enabler, Gary Turner, part of the Pace Retail team. We all work virtually, but it all works brilliantly thanks to cloud computing, and Dropbox in particular!
We've spent many happy evenings sitting in front of the TV stuffing renewal letters at 11 o’clock at night which may partly explain why we recognise many of your names when we meet or speak to you (although thankfully those envelope-stuffing days are now a distant memory thanks to the internet and the new systems we now have in place)! We do our utmost to provide a service that we would want and value if we were customers. Sometimes we make mistakes, sometimes things are out of our hands (Royal Mail doesn’t help!) but hopefully most of the time we provide a service you are happy with and with a bit of luck, occasionally we may even impress you.
So you see your support really does keep us in business. I own sportEX and we are answerable to nobody but ourselves and you. We take pride in practicing our business ethically and responsibly and never forget those who’ve helped us and who hopefully one day we will be able to help in return. But the bottom line is that we couldn’t do any of this without you guys signing up to our subscriptions.
It is also the only way we can afford to continue developing the titles and explore the fantastic new opportunities that technology brings each day. Publishing has changed beyond belief over the last 16 years and I'm getting the chance to do what I've always dreamed of which is truly bring our information to life.
sportEX is very much our baby – we take your feedback, both good and bad (yes it does happen at times, and quite rightly if we deserveit!), very personally, and it is impossible to convey how much it means to us when you recommend sportEX to your colleagues and friends.
I hope you have enjoyed this information and please keep sending us your feedback.
With our best wishes Tor, Debbie, Alison, Gary and the virtual team!