Comeback Kid

Say It Ain't So

Everything seemed to be going their way until 1992. As the third season of FSPI's contract with Miller Brewing Co. played out, the Hughes' good fortune was also about to expire, due to changes that had taken place in Miller's management. "A new set of people came in and went in a new direction," explains Hughes; their contract wasn't renewed.

Losing Miller's sponsorship was a major setback, but Hughes wasn't ready to throw in the towel. After another year without the fast-moving sales and high visibility the Miller sponsorship had generated, however, FSPI started to feel the crunch. Forgoing salaries for six to eight months at a time, the Hugheses were now relying on bank loans and Cheryl's salary to keep the company afloat.

By the fall of 1993, a big question mark hung over FSPI's future. With their business running on fumes, Patrick and Cheryl had run out of ideas. Selling the business wasn't an option, Hughes says, because of the small number of users they had.

Although the world of fantasy sports was thriving in sports bars and offices across the country, FSPI's piece of the pie was getting smaller. As the crisis unfolded, everything the Hugheses had worked for seemed to be slipping away. They were committed to keeping their company's doors open as long as possible, but by April 1994, laying off key personnel seemed inevitable. Faced for the first time with the prospect of not being able to make payroll, "I told my employees just to hang on," remembers Hughes, "and that I would figure something out."

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This article was originally published in the July 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Comeback Kid.

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