These Women Quit Their Corporate Jobs to Launch a Female-Focused Sports Media Company

Ellen Hyslop, Jacie deHoop and Roslyn McLarty on how they made it happen

(Photo: Katherine Holland)
(Photo: Katherine Holland)

Names: Ellen Hyslop, Jacie deHoop and Roslyn McLarty

Job titles: The Voice a.k.a. head of content (Hyslop), The Hustle a.k.a. head of growth (deHoop) and The Logic a.k.a. head of finance & operations (McLarty) at The Gist

Ages: 26 (Hyslop) and 27 (deHoop and McLarty)

From: Hamilton, Ont. (Hyslop), Kingston, Ont. (deHoop), and Ottawa, Ont. (McLarty)

Currently live in: Philadelphia, PA

Education: Commerce program at Queen’s University

First jobs out of school: Underwriter at Chubb Insurance (Hyslop), accountant at PWC (McLarty) and rotational program at Hudson’s Bay (deHoop)

The idea for The Gist came to Ellen Hyslop, Jacie deHoop and Roslyn McLarty over dinner one night in early 2017. Hyslop—an avid sports fan—was excited about a pivotal goal scored during a Toronto Maple Leafs game and what it meant for the Leafs entering the playoffs. DeHoop and McLarty responded by saying how helpful it would be to have access to Hyslop’s brand of friendly, easy-to-understand sports debriefing on the regular, whether going into a meeting with a boss who was a Leafs fan or going for drinks with their hockey-loving colleagues. The three realized that there were likely other women who felt that way too.

A few months later, they launched The Gist, a sports media company focused on delivering sports content, experiences (like a free weekly NFL pool and March Madness brackets) and community gatherings (like hosting viewing parties around major sporting events) by women for women. One of the key features is a twice-weekly newsletter that updates its audience on sports news in an easily digestible and conversational manner. “Our goal is to connect and empower women through sport by filling the gap in an industry that’s mostly focused on the avid male sports fan,” says Hyslop.

Initially a side hustle for all three women, they’ve since quit their respective full-time jobs to focus on the company full time. This September, they expanded their newsletter across North America with Canada-wide, U.S.-wide and Philadelphia-specific editions, and they’re dividing their time on both sides of the border with headquarters in Toronto and Philadelphia. They chose Philadelphia for several reasons: They were there as part of the Comcast NBC Universal LIFT Labs powered by accelerator Techstars and received the program’s support to launch there. Additionally, the women say, it’s a great sports city and is similar in size to Toronto, making it easier to replicate some of the marketing strategies they employed in their hometown.

Despite their growth and success, they believe that there’s still a lot of work to be done. When asked whether sports is still a boys’ club, Hyslop can recite stats as easily as she can recount a major playoff game: Less than 14% of sports journalists are women, less than 5% of the C-level executives in the sports industry are women, less than 4% of media coverage goes to female athletes and less than 1% of endorsement money goes to female athletes. And of the major sports leagues, which include the MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL, less than 7% of team owners are women.

“It’s no wonder a lot of women have felt like sports were never for them. There’s a huge underserved population, even if they are already sports fans, [and it’s an opportunity] to provide better content for them and content that’s actually created with them in mind as opposed to an avid male sports fan,” says Hyslop. It’s The Gist’s mission to do just that.

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