Babson and the National Football League (NFL) are in the midst of celebrating their storied histories in the form of their 100th anniversaries.
But, that’s not the only thing the institution and sports league have in common. Over the past few years, former players interested in business have attended entrepreneurship education sessions at Babson to kick-start their post-playing careers.
From NFL to The Entrepreneur’s Bootcamp
Faculty advisor Angelo Santinelli said the sessions have been successful over the years.
“We are still in touch with a number of players that came through and executed on their ideas,” he said.
Past players who have participated include New England Patriots linebacker Adalius Thomas, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Mark Clayton, and Dallas Cowboys tight end Brett Pierce.
The opportunity has given them access to classes based on their interests of establishing a business, buying a company, and investing, in addition to The Entrepreneur’s Bootcamp, a week-long program in which Santinelli serves as faculty director, that helps participants form an opportunity from an idea on a path to building a business.
“For many of them, it was the first time they were in a classroom setting with other entrepreneurs that were not football players, and having to hold their own,” Santinelli said.
Off the Field
As the average NFL career is just about 2.5 years, according to The Wall Street Journal, it can be important for players to find a new profession post-retirement.
“For most of these people, they don’t choose to retire when they do,” Santinelli said. “They’ve got to figure out what to do with the rest of their lives.”
Pierce came to Babson about four years ago while in the process of starting his current venture, Elite Dental Alliance, a business that supports independent dentists without compromising the quality of care they offer.
At Babson, he learned how to accelerate his business with input from current and potential customers.
“A key takeaway for me was not to assume you know what everybody wants,” Pierce said.
Santinelli said skills athletes have developed over their lifetimes are “immediately and directly transferable into business.”
“Once you get these guys some of the tools they need, they grab them and they go,” he said. “They know how to work hard, they know how to make sacrifices.”
Like Pierce, many of the players’ business ideas circle back to bettering a community. Other participants’ ventures have aimed to reduce youth poverty rates, and inspire children and teenagers to stay in school.
“Their motivation (is) one of the reasons I enjoy working with them so much,” Santinelli said. “They understand it’s going to take a lot of work, the risk involved, but they have the skills and temperament to go and do this stuff.”
Featured photos courtesy of Brett Pierce.