How Football Manager Inspired Charlie

One of the original inspirations for Charlie was the PC game Football Manager. It’s where I wasted many of my teenage days pretending to be Sir Alex Ferguson and also took Brighton FC from League 1 to Champions League glory.

The game was, and (I hear) still is, amazing. You can run a whole football club from inside the game — not just playing matches, but buying players, hiring coaches, getting training schedules, renewing contracts, signing sponsorship deals, upgrading the stadium…and more. It’s pretty wild, and stupidly addictive.

I joined Rob and Ben as part of a team of four. As it grew to thirty five people (and counting), we learned the hard way about how to run a company.

It speaks to my naivety that I never imagined running a business also meant signing up to piles and piles of admin. I just wanted to make stuff, but ended up spending most of my time doing paperwork around a new hire, setting up company software, or just keeping on top of who was away. The time spent in spreadsheets astounded me.

Worse of all, we weren’t even trying to grow the company at the time, just make it run day to day. The struggle is real. Ben calls it the “white noise” of running a company, but everything is important enough that you never let anything drop.

As we went through that journey of setting up a company, and eventually starting to grow a business, we built up the firm belief that running a company should be way simpler.

In fact, it should be as simple as playing a game. If I can run a Football Club, why the hell am I still copying and pasting people’s details into various spreadsheets?! Madness.

When we were sketching out the first version of Charlie, we actually had screenshots of Football Manager printed out on the office walls. The amount of data they display, which flows across complex processes in the game, inspired us.

Breaking a ton of design rules but easy to learn to use

It is now deeply instilled in everyone working on Charlie that running a company should be as easy as playing a game. Admin doesn’t have to consume your whole working day, and it shouldn’t be a struggle.

Heck, one day we might even be able to make it as fun as playing Football Manager…

Coming soon….

CharlieHR is the free HR platform for teams with big ideas. Building a company is hard, running one shouldn’t be. Find out more here.

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