Can a Virtual Sports Agent App Give Athletes More Career Control?

Top celebrity and sports agents make millions a year, but as Sports Illustrated famously wrote a decade ago, 78 percent of NFL players are bankrupt or facing serious financial stress within two years of retiring, and 60 percent of NBA players are broke within five years of ending their playing careers.

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A new startup called Athent is trying to keep the 10 percent that usually goes to agents and managers in athletes' pockets, while helping them take better control of their finances and personal brand.

Athent combines app-based financial education courses, centralized budget management, and tools for overseeing social media and managing a community of family and friends. Listed on the Athent's site as supporters are Los Angeles Rams star running back Todd Gurley, as well as a number of NFL stars, basketball players, and Olympic athletes.

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

At the West Coast Challenge pitch competition at USC in Los Angeles last month, Athent was among those vying for a place in the Quake Capital Startup Accelerator and $200,000 in seed funding. That prize went to MrktStar—which pays people for predicting the success of their favorite businesses, apps, or bands—but Athent caught our eye.

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Onstage with Athent CEO Rae Emard, current NFL player Dominique Easley talked about getting his $1.2 million signing bonus. "Stuff got real really quick," he said before noting that the peak NFL earning period is very short—an average length of three years—and it's easy to blow through cash.

In theory, managers and agents are supposed to help players avoid financial ruin, but there's always the potential for corruption and mismanagement.

The same can be said for venture capitalists. Lucas Pols, venture partner at Quake Capital and founder of the Spark xyz early stage venture platform, said his team started the West Coast Challenge "to move the needle on founder failure."

There are a lot of events in the startup incubator space now, but not all are truly effective, he said.

"We as a community continue to throw these huge lavish events where we show off the best companies but do not do enough around teaching," Pols explained. "If we can move our industry's high failure rate even slightly by having battle-tested VCs and successful entrepreneurs teach about the pitfalls they saw or fell into, we as a community will be significantly better off in the long run."

(Clqsix CEO Hakeem Animashaun, COO Hammed Animashaun, and CMO Wasiu Animashaun)

Among the other startups at the West Coast Challenge were Clqsix, a social media app for groups of friends, and City Grows, a cloud-based freemium SaaS for government permitting.

There was also a startup called Nedl touting voice-searchable broadcasts, a mental health marketplaces named Ootify, and an engaging high-end crafting platform called Kitterly.

MrktStar, meanwhile, will now get industry coaching from experts such as Marissa Peretz, who scaled Tesla from zero to 16,000 employees, and benefits from competition sponsors, including Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services web hosting credits.

This article originally appeared on PCMag.com.

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