Shaper: Tom Thirlwall

Tom Thirlwall
CEO of Copa90

Tom was born in London in 1973. He attended Reigate Grammar School in Surrey and went on to Leeds University before working as a Planner at Mediaedge, an advertising media planning agency. In 1997, Tom co-founded Fishtank, a youth marketing specialist firm and in 2005 became Client Service Director at Leo Burnett, a media and advertising agency. In 2007 he became Managing Director at Mworks London, a marketing and communications agency and in 2010 co-founded WE R Interactive, a social entertainment company which was acquired by Inspired Gaming in 2015.

In 2010, Tom bought a 25% stake in COPA90’s parent company Bigballs Media. COPA90 was launched in 2012 as a YouTube channel.

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Tom’s grandfather was Jack Thirlwall, a renowned Jazz Trombonist, who had a track, ‘Gentleman Jack’, written and dedicated to him by Young Jazz Musician of the Year, Callum Au in 2013.

The absolute sort of driver of this is a younger audience that in many ways was feeling left behind or forgotten about by traditional sports media.

We wanted to tell the stories outside of the ninety minutes that make the ninety minutes matter more. That was our way of launching Copa90 and justifying why we were not going to touch the game itself.

We’re making between fourteen hundred and five thousand pieces of video content on a monthly basis. During a tournament period there will be at least five thousand pieces of content going out.

The way we look at football is, it’s the world’s universal language. Whether you’re getting into a cab or walking into a radio station…it’s the first commonality, it’s the first conversation you have when you spot a badge or a flag from a team that you recognise.

We love what we do and I’d like to think across the team that if we’re not enjoying it then we’re doing something wrong

There’s an expectation that the business is going to keep going and people will get pay rises and go on holiday and so you feel an enormous responsibility as the business grows to protect the nearest and dearest within a business – which is all of the team.

…you take a deep breath and you’re relying on your instincts in terms of how you relate to people and manage people and lead people as well as, you know, selling your backside off when you’re next in front of that investor to try and get things over the line.

I definitely still find myself so happy to be in a world whereby you’re creating value and capturing that value rather than just charging for time, which is what disillusioned me.

What is undeniable in this new media age is quality of content, quality of connection with your audience has no replacement, it has no peer.