fbpx

An Open Letter from a Sports Entrepreneur

An Open Letter from a Sports Entrepreneur

Dear WAYA,

Much as it has been for most businesses, this first month of coronavirus lockdown has been tough for The TriFactory. It feels like most of us are getting by, with the exception of those few special companies who have been labeled essential services, or who are naturally suited to thriving in a 100% digital and home-based economy. 

For the rest of us, the era of COVID-19 is an era of mass confusion. From a business perspective, how do you deal with a pandemic caused by a disease about which we know very little? How do you navigate an economy of complete uncertainty? At The TriFactory, we’re just as unsure as everyone else.

That uncertainty permeates all of our decision-making. It means we’ve had to shelve our calendar and forecast, which just a few months ago had filled us with so much optimism. 

The Sahl Hasheesh Endurance Festival?
Postponed.
Tough Mudder Egypt? 
Postponed. 
Ramadan Relay Run? 
Who knows when the ban on mass gatherings will be lifted?

As for solutions, how does a company focusing on participation sports events deal with a ban on mass gatherings? The TriFactory events bring people together and provide exactly what it is we strive to provide: an experience. How do you gather people together for an amazing experience, when it’s unsafe to gather people together?

The TriFactory Pyramids Half Marathon event. Source: The TriFactory

Of course, we can and we have activated digitally. The TriFactory pioneered the digital running challenge back in 2016, called ItsWorthATri, and it’s now more relevant than ever before. Similarly, we’re seeing the entire sports industry shift to digital, whether by offering live classes for customers to tune into, releasing daily workouts in video format, or organising digital workout challenges similar in nature to ours.

“It’s impossible to replicate the electricity that runs through participants as they gather on the beach before a triathlon, the feeling of racing alongside other competitors, the joy of crossing a marathon finish line with cheers and high-fives all around.”Seif Fawzy, COO, The Trifactory

The online world is great and its potential is infinite. Everyone is a potential consumer, if you reach them the right way. But it lacks the emotion that our events provide. It’s impossible to replicate the electricity that runs through participants as they gather on the beach before a triathlon, the feeling of racing alongside other competitors, the joy of crossing a marathon finish line with cheers and high-fives all around. In our new reality, there are no start and finish lines, and even the high-fives are banned. 

It seems insensitive to talk about such petty concerns given the gravity of COVID-19. News reports tell us of hospital admissions being decided based on likelihood of recovery, morgues filled to the brim, and underprivileged communities whose resources are being pushed to the brink, all of which really put our own problems into perspective. 

But while the international medical crisis dwarfs our local business concerns, our story is a reflection of what every other company – large or small – is facing. We’re just as concerned about the wellbeing of our employees, the sustainability of our business, and the long-term future of our company.

The TriFactory Tough Mudder event. Source: The TriFactory

So yes, just like everyone else COVID-19 has decimated our 2020 plans, at least for the first half of the year.

And yes, we have gone digital: we just launched the Stay Safe Marathon, encouraging people to cover the 42K distance of a marathon from their homes or neighbourhoods, while respecting rules on social distancing. To bring in a sense of achievement like at our normal events, the challenge culminates with a medal, delivered directly to participants’ homes. At the time of publication, 1250 runners have signed up.

And finally, there are silver linings. A focus on family has again become a norm, something I had lost sight of. And as they say, ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’, and I truly miss my team and seeing them every day. Overall, the world has slowed down, a blessing any event manager can attest to. 

So how are we at The TriFactory dealing with COVID-19? Much the same as everyone else. We’re just getting by, focusing on digital, and waiting for the moment that thousands of participants are once again standing at the start line, counting down until their race begins.

If you see something out of place or would like to contribute to this story, check out our Ethics and Policy section.

If you see something out of place or would like to contribute to this story, check out our Ethics and Policy section.