Being an entrepreneur is equal parts patience and hard work. There is usually no overnight success, but instead failure after failure and a constant reinvention of ideas, approaches and business models. Patience can mean weeks, months, or even years of repeatedly hammering out an idea, analyzing numbers and statistics, trying to find the angle that will finally work, and slowly building a team to bring a vision to life – a never-ending quest for success.
Brent Burns, the Founder, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Thoroughbred Insider, is no stranger to that process.
A Lifelong Love of Sports and Competition
For four generations, Brent and his family have gathered like so many others fans to share a moment in time centered around sports, whether it be the World Series, March Madness or the Kentucky Derby. For the past few years, Brent has worked at turning that long engrained love of sports into the business he loves.
Brent was introduced into the world of sports in his youth by his father and grandfather. Growing up in a small town in Eastern Kentucky, Brent and his dad hardly ever missed a game of minor league baseball. There, in the bleachers of an old high school stadium, Brent witnessed the likes of players like Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry and Kirby Puckett before they became superstars.
In a small coal mining town over Christmas vacations, Brent could always count on rooting for the home town high school basketball team by his grandparents’ side. And, as a young boy during a time when the Cincinnati Reds were going through arguably their best decade in existence, Brent became a lifelong fan – something he shares with his father to this day as they rarely miss an Opening Day in Cincy together.
While in college at Morehead State, just an hour east of Lexington, his love for horse racing really began. Brent and his roommates spent weekends at Keeneland although, he admits, they always left the track poorer than when they arrived. The art of betting didn’t come until after he graduated when he settled in Charleston, WV, and lived only a mile away from Tri-State Greyhound Park.
Once again, three generations of Burns men – Brent along with his father and grandfather – gathered on Monday nights to share their love of sports.
“We would go for $1 hot dogs and pitch in 20 bucks each and play quinellas together. Those were fun nights. We’d always talk about work, the Reds, and basketball – and what dog we each had some brilliant insight on.”
When Brent graduated from college and entered his professional career, he was often responsible for entertaining out of town clients, and what better place to do that than the Greyhound Track Brent sharpened his handicapping skills at? Somehow, Brent always became responsible for explaining how to read a program and place a bet.
“I guess I just give off that nerdy, math geek vibe (or degenerate vibe – could be either one I guess).”
He laughs, but either way it was there that the entrepreneur in Brent was born. He started to play with the idea that pictures would be a great way to easily introduce someone to the art of betting. “From that idea,” he says, “I started playing around developing a software model that would take the information in a racing form and translate it into interactive graphics to help beginners decide what to bet on – and how.”
And the very first concepts that have ultimately led to Thoroughbred Insider were born.
You Might Also Enjoy Reading:
Experiences, Both Big and Small, Shaping a Vision
From that point on, racing has been the catalyst for some amazing memories for Brent. There was a weekend in Las Vegas during the Kentucky Derby which, poolside with a copy of the Daily Racing Form, resulted in a $500 score on Barbaro… just hours before attending an Oscar de La Hoya fight. There was a perfect June afternoon, trackside amongst the crowd at Belmont Park when American Pharoah ended the Triple Crown drought in an “electric atmosphere that final 1/4 mile of the Belmont [Stakes]”.
There are quieter moments, too, ones equally as important to the father of two budding young sports fans. There are summer evenings spent throwing baseballs in the backyard while Brent – an avid grillmaster – cooks his latest culinary creation to test on his sons. There are Friday nights of laying out the fresh basketball uniforms for his boys’ games the next morning – the teams Brent has been coaching for several seasons. Although, when it comes to sharing his passion for betting with his boys… “we haven’t gotten into that yet,” Brent chuckles.
A Vision for the Future – From a Fan’s Perspective
In the Fall of 2015, the official Pick Insider website launched (the precursor of Thoroughbred Insider), and over the following months Brent handpicked his contributing team – a team of fellow racing and sports fans who shared many experiences like the ones Brent holds so dearly.
Today, as a leader who encourages the creativity and freedom of his team, Brent has led Thoroughbred Insider to the cusp of something amazing – a place to share memories immortalized in time.
“I’ve learned that fans who are truly vested in a sport or a team or even a horse, they have this inner desire for people to understand that passion with the hope that the other person will “get it,” as that’s a huge part of who they are. With Pick Insider, I think we are creating a community where people can share that part of themselves…all with the hopes of allowing other people to see inside that part of them.”
With that philosophy close in hand, Brent has been the mastermind behind the model of ThoroughbredInsider.com being a site by the fans, for the fans. All the years of adapting and modifying his vision, all the hours of pouring over and analyzing numbers, and all the trust he has placed in us – his team – finally the hard work is starting to pay off, in the form of an avid and engaged fan base who share our passion for the sport we love.
Brent and his team aren’t finished yet; in fact, they’re just getting started if he has anything to do with it. With some upcoming innovations, Brent has Thoroughbred Insider on the cusp of something amazing, and the fans are in for a great ride.
We self proclaimed sports fans are a part of a community – a family whose history runs much deeper than our own existence in it but is nevertheless an intrinsic part of who we are. We share in stories and memories that bond us together by something only those on the “inside” can understand. Now, through Brent and ThoroughbredInsider.com, we have a platform to connect with each other, to share our collective memory, to be heard as the passionate fanatics we are.
From me, and all fans, there’s only one thing left to be said to you, Brent, and that is “thank you.”