Becoming a professional athlete is something many of us dream of when we’re growing up. Few of us ever achieve it. Louis Saha managed to realise that dream. However, for those that do realise that childhood dream and reach the world of professional sports, it comes with a level of risk that most don’t realise.
We sat down with former professional footballer, Louis Saha and his business partner Kate Hamer to learn more about AxisStars, a social network that connects elite athletes and stars with trusted businesses.
Most would know Saha as Louis Saha, former professional footballer. However, few would know him as Louis Saha, entrepreneur. His career as a professional footballer is well documented but after retirement in 2013, he ventured into the world of business to found AxisStars. Asked why he started the business “AxisStars came from the experience I had as a player in England and Italy. I realised that it was really difficult to get the right people and the right support. It was always a gamble to get things right.”
“I felt obliged to give back. I felt that something needed to be done and to develop a space where trusted advice could be given and taken.”
With impressionable youngsters entering the industry each year, AxisStars want to help “keep the sharks at bay” by providing a platform that only vetted businesses can join.
“The stat is that 50% of pro athletes go bankrupt or suffer financial hardship within a few years of retiring. And that comes about because from a young age, you’re encouraged to focus on your talent, and lots of people come around saying we can take care of this or we’ll look after that. Best case scenario, they do a good job, but you’re still retiring sort of late 20s, early 30s, depending on whether that’s through injury, or just through coming to the end of your career, and then they all drop away.”
So to combat this, the AxisStars platform was created with a very simple aim…
“There is strength in numbers, and people can learn from each other, whether it’s a 23 year old footballer that can speak to someone who’s now retired and get advice from them. Or whether it’s that rugby, football and cricket can come together, it’s a way to share experiences and have contact with people that understand what you’re living.”
We were very fortunate to be given a look at the AxisStars platform and with over 400 users and growing, it’s easy to see why so many have joined already. An Admissions and Ethics committee sits as a guardian to the platform, reviewing any business that wants to join the space.
Kate Hamer explains “You can also always see a face behind the brand. You’re not just messaging some logo, you’ll be talking to an actual person from the company.”
“We’re not a middleman in there. So our business model is that we just charge a membership fee to businesses to join, we’re not taking commission out of deals or anything like that.”
The space has also become self-policing as the users can leave a rating after transacting with a business about their experience. The platform has a number of spaces. The opportunities area includes charities looking for ambassadors and products in exchange for social media posts to broadcast media work. There is also a separate space where users can find expert help in areas such as financial planning, healthcare and legal services. The final area is a chat/socialising area where users can join public chat groups and network with users from other sports and areas.
AxisStars clearly highlights a major problem in the world of sports for athletes and when asked if more can be done to safeguard impressionable youngsters that are coming into the industry, the answer is an overwhelming yes. Louis argues that from the outside, the world of football may look professionalised but there is a lot of room for improvement.
“This what we are trying to do. Yes, let’s try to highlight these problems and give easy access to those guys who can really do the safeguarding and give the advice that is required.”
“For me, it’s a global project, safeguarding is one part of it. But it’s also information and education. We want to provide security and protection, if you don’t know about it, you can’t protect yourself.”
AxisStars, the idea, the team and the platform are all brilliant. It’s clear that they are passionate about combatting a major problem in the world of sports that most people wouldn’t even know was there.
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