Professional Athletes: The Next Generation of Tech Entrepreneurs
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The average National Basketball Association salary during the 2015-2016 season was a cool $4,021,836. But not all athletes are out buying big cars and bigger houses, as the stereotype goes. Instead, they're becoming busy entrepreneurs.
Indeed, as the current NBA season comes to a close, many players are using a portion of their salaries to launch and invest in tech companies for the coming off season. Professional athletes across all sports, from the NBA to the National Football League, in fact, are investing time, energy and effort into the tech space.
Golden State Warriors superstar Steph Curry is a high-profile example. Curry was perhaps best known this season for his three pointers on the court. However, many may not know that he is also the co-owner of two tech startups off the court -- Slyce and CoachUp.
Curry launched Slyce last year with the help of former Nike employees Bryant Barr and Jason Mayden. The platform acts as an intermediary between athletes and their fans, helping players sift through messages, post relevant content and interact in better ways with their followers. Curry’s other venture, CoachUp, is a private coaching app that pairs coaches and trainers with athletes.
Social media maven and New York Knicks center Kevin Seraphin is another athlete heavily involved in the tech space. A few years ago, he launched Thorolgraffix, a photo-editing app that allows users to add filters, masking and various effects to their social media postings. Seraphin is currently beta-testing a new social networking app called Looks.
Seraphin and Curry are two of many on a long list of professional athletes invading the tech space. They are joined by other athletes, like Carmelo Anthony, Randy Flores, Isaiah Kacyvenski and Chris Paul.
Various associations, such as the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA), are doing their part to expose more players to the tech space. Earlier this year, the NFLPA facilitated a "Tech Tour," arranging site visits and meetings for NFL players in Silicon Valley. Players met with tech companies that focus on such areas as social media, gaming, mobile apps and wearable technology.
So, why are more athletes getting involved in the tech scene? Rob Wilson, CEO of Wilson Insight, has some answers. Wilson provides financial advice to professional athletes, entertainers and young executives, including former NFL player Shawntae Spencer.
Spencer, who played nine years with the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders, took advantage of his time in the Bay Area to build and foster relationships in the tech space. To date, Spencer has done six seed investments, the most notable being Tripping.com (vacation rentals), Mayvenn (hair extension sales) and MoviePass (for unlimited movie-going).
Wilson says he believes that more and more athletes are jumping into tech because today’s generation of professional athletes have grown up with tech as a significant part of their lives. They came up in the explosion of mobile devices and social media, so they are a much more tech-savvy generation.
Is your tech company interested? For companies and entrepreneurs looking to partner with professional athletes in the tech space, Wilson advises building relationships with gatekeepers to athletes such as reputable agents, attorneys and financial advisors.
That way, you and your favorite player may end up as business partners.