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Entrepreneur Success Story: Draft Headquarters

Shawn Zobel has turned his passion into his profession. Draft Headquarters came from Shawn’s interest in the NFL draft. Now, he publishes his Draft Preview and runs www.draftheadquarters.com.

How old are you? What is your educational background?
I am 19 and currently a freshman at Northwestern College in St. Paul, MN.

How do you make your draft picks?
The last two years I have predicted how college football players will be selected into the NFL. I project what round they will go, what systems they are best fit for, and what their strengths and weaknesses are. I put out a mock draft, which is a projection of the first round. I came in 8th out of 95 people in 2007, coming in ahead of experts such as, ESPN’s Todd McShay and former Houston Texans General Manager Charley Casserly. This year, I beat ESPN’s Mel Kiper by more than three picks (player-to-team selections). I also publish a draft preview each year that ranks and profiles hundreds of players.

What is your background in picking football draft picks? What makes you a NFL draft expert?
I began my website Draft Headquarters (www.draftheadquarters.com) when I was 17 years old and in 11th grade. It began as a hobby, or something fun to do. Once I placed 8th out of 95, I began to gain exposure and the hobby turned into a business. My accuracy in my projections has been as good as or better than any expert in the nation.

How does your company make money?
I sell my Draft Preview on my website. I sell it for $15.95. Last year, the 2008 Draft Preview was 128 pages. I’m underway on my 2009 Draft Preview. I also sell ad space on the website and have written for other college, pro, and fantasy football websites.

Where did the idea for Draft Headquarters come from?
I’ve attended the NFL Draft live in New York since I was in 8th grade, so I’ve always been a huge NFL Draft fan. Eventually, I just decided to try out ranking and projecting the draft on my own. I founded Draft Headquarters and came up with the name for it.

How did you get the money to start your company?
At first, the costs were very minimal because the website wasn’t big and I didn’t have to fund anything yet; the money that I make from my Draft Preview sales and the ad space goes back into the company to make it better.

What is the best part, for you, about Draft Headquarters (talking to football players, etc)?
Going to the Senior Bowl and working for NFL Network at the Combine as a statistician was probably one of the highlights last year. Meeting head coaches, general managers, and players that you watch on TV and read about is what really makes it a lot of fun. Also, I scout football players for a job; there’s nothing better than that. Being that I live in Minnesota, I’ve met with the Vikings a few times which has been great. I eventually want to be a general manager in the NFL, so getting a chance to learn from them at a young age has really been a tremendous opportunity.

What was the hardest thing about starting this business?
The struggle of building the business up from nothing and trying to gain respect and credibility was by far the hardest thing. It’s a constant struggle that you just have push through and believe that you can get through it.

Can you give other young entrepreneurs some advice?
Follow your dreams. Set goals and work as hard as you can until you reach them. There’s one variable in life that no one can take away from you, and that’s how hard you are willing to work. If you are willing to work harder than anyone else, then eventually you’re going to get noticed.

Visit Draft Headquarters.

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One Response to Entrepreneur Success Story: Draft Headquarters

  1. Rob Weber says:

    Cool story and post, but you failed to mention another Minnesota entrepreneurial story which is much related, and that is Draft Countdown (http://www.draftcountdown.com).

    Draft Countdown is run by Scott Wright of Sandstone, Minnesota. According to Alexa (web traffic statistics) http://www.draftheadquarters.com is ranked the 4,439,217 most popular website in the world, and http://www.draftcountdown.com is rated far better at 125,500.

    Scott Wright went to St. Cloud State, and started his website with a similar dream as Shawn Zobel. Close friends call Scott “Big Poppa” because he has the size of an NFL offensive lineman. Scott’s website is a part of the Fantasy Sports Ventures Network, a well-funded NYC ad network for top fantasy sports websites.

    I cover Minnesota and tech entrepreneurship quite a bit on my blog at http://www.rob-weber.com. Check it out if you are interested in more tidbits like this one.

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