Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Kris McCarthy, Co-Founder & COO at FanSaves

Kris McCarthy is the Co-Founder & COO at FanSaves, a company he launched in 2017 with his co-founder Shannon, where he is charge of business development and sales.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I am a true-blue Canadian with a passion for hockey and business. I spent seven years playing professional hockey while simultaneously earning my bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from SUNY Potsdam.

Shortly after graduating after spending years as player, I transitioned into the front office and began my professional work career. It was while I was working as the Director of Sales & Marketing for a minor pro team that I met my co-founder, Shannon, and together we experienced a sponsorship pain point that would become the basis our startup.

We co-founded FanSaves in the summer of 2017 where I am currently the COO and in charge of most of the business development and sales.

2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

In March, Covid-19 put a hold on the work travel Shannon (who is also my life partner) and I had planned so we hunkered down in self-isolation like much of the rest of the country for the foreseeable future.

After the lockdown was announced we made the decision to pivot and create our FanSaves Helps Gift Certificate Program with the goal of generating revenue for small businesses that had been forced to close their doors due to social distancing.

We quickly partnered with over sixty communities across Canada and onboarded more than 600 businesses in the process. The initiative has been very time consuming, with us spending 10-12 hour days working tirelessly on the program leaving little time for much else.

The more we worked on our processes and the more help we enlisted, the less overwhelming the program became giving us more time to get back to some kind of work-life balance (or integration as we like to call it).

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

Shannon and I have always said the best thing about working for ourselves in the flexibility it allows us.

At the beginning of the year, we spent two months in San Diego, California working remotely and planning our seed round with one of our advisors. It was an opportunity that we never could have taken if we were working for someone else.

Now, as we are living through unprecedented times with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the days of employees coming into our office have shifted to remote work but our time in San Diego really helped prepare our team for the remote work that is now a way of life for them.

Tools like Zoom, Trello and group chats have replaced in-person morning huddles and team meetings. Being a technology company remote work is not a problem. We can communicate with our staff in real time and still are still able to ensure tasks are completed at a high standard.

Most of the development of our digital platform to date was outsourced prior to Covid-19 so that really prepared us for things like project management and communication with a remote development team.

The beauty of being an entrepreneur or startup founder is that YOU dictate your work schedule. Every day is different for us in the sense that that are always new tasks to complete and new opportunities to pursue. We are constantly innovating and brainstorming new ways to grow the business which is my favorite part!

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

For me, I prefer the term work-life integration! Shannon and I spend most of every day together working on something we love. We often refer to our business as our baby since it takes up most of our time and money! We wake up thinking about the business and we go to sleep talking about the business.

Shannon and I are both so passionate about our business that most of the time it doesn’t feel like work– It is truly something we both enjoy building and watching grow. Having said that when we do take the time to step away from the business, we enjoy watching true crime shows or sports documentaries like The Last Dance on Netflix.

We’ve also picked up a small side hobby during the pandemic of doing puzzles, like 2000-piece puzzles, which is surprisingly quite relaxing!

When we are not in the middle of a pandemic you can find me spending my free time on the ice playing hockey or on the golf course. For me those are my two happy places where nothing else matters and I can really get away from the day-to-day grind!

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5) In the past 12 months, have you started/stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

Last winter I built a 30 x 60 foot outdoor rink in our side yard. Every morning I would wake up a 7am and go for a skate by myself. It was my form of mediation and the cold, crisp Canadian winter air was a great way to wake myself up for the work day.

This year, while we were in San Diego, trips to the beach and the smell of the ocean replaced morning skates which I guess wasn’t too bad either.

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

Books: Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey A. Moore, The Brave Athlete: Calm the F*ck Down and Rise to the Occasion by Simon Marshall PhD and Lesley Paterson.

Podcasts: This Week in Startups hosted by Jason Calacanis, Big Idea Big Moves hosted by Jamie Allison and Sports Biz Radio hosted by Rob Thompson.

Blogs/Newsletters: Sports Tech Business Digest and Front Office Sports.

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

LinkedIn (slightly addicted), Zoom as mentioned above for the business and staying in touch with family during the pandemic,. TikTok is fun and Twitter to stay informed on world events.

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?  

Gary Vaynerchuck! The guy is a content creation machine! I admire his passion to help others grow their personal and business brands and I just love the content he puts out on a daily basis. I feel like I’m like him in the sense that he truly loves what he does and his work is his passion.

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

I think people can get caught up in seeing what other successful people do and try to emulate that in their own lives. There is no right way to live life or achieve work life balance. We all have different dependants, commitments and passions that lead us down our own paths. My advice is to love what you do so much that the work you do is your passion and never feels like a job.

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.