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Its billed as the ultimate network for active outdoor sports. It has received funding of £4m (one of the last start-up sport dot.coms to benefit from venture capital over-optimism?) and it will create the UKs biggest web-based network of destination sites for active outdoor sport enthusiasts, including mountain bikers. How many portals will still be around in two years? The low-budget, non-enthusiast ones will survive, what about the big spenders?

Portal Power #3: Madforsport.com

According to the holding page for MadforSport.com, the new portal is launching a network of awesome action based sports sites, providing essential, unique content, for people with a real passion for cool high-adrenaline sports.

It is willing to spend to get noticed. Much of its £4m seed capital will be spent on PR and advertising campaign when it launches in June/July. The portal will be aiming to attract surfers (real, not just virtual) and snowboarders and other sport participants as well as mountain bikers.

Each activity will have its own e-tail site that will offer a range of community, content and commerce offers.

MadforSport.com will have regular, highly-personalised e-mail newsletters and will use a central database to cross-sell between the sites. The site will also have a WAP entry point for cellphone surfers.

"We are seizing the opportunity to consolidate the online action sports market and will use it to build relationships with visitors to the sites," says MadforSport.com chief executive, Tony Harris, the former divisional managing director of Emap Fashion and Media, who is joined by four other former EMAP employees.

Like 9feet.com, Madforsport.com is banking on the (mythical?) crossover relationships between outdoor sports. Whilst such crossovers do take place a climber may also be a mountain biker its also true that most sports have a solid core of participants who do not participate in many sports and for these people a general portal is unlikely to have the same sticky appeal as a sport specific one. However, where Madforsport.com may win is its divisibility: users choose to cross over, each activity has its own URL site (eg madforsailing.com, madforsnowboarding.com, madformountainbiking.com and six others). This is similar to magicalia.com, owners of golfmagic, boatmagic and of course, bikemagic.com.

Only time will tell whether the big bucks going into these sort of cross-over projects will ever come out the other end as multiplied up profits. One portal may win out. ‘First to scale’ is the aim of the game…

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