While Marques Colston is most known for his ability to catch passes on the football field, he’s been using his post-NFL career to pass business opportunities to his peers.
Colston is a partner and managing director of The Players’ Impact, a group that connects professional athletes to the startup ecosystem. He became a partner in 2018 when the Boston-based firm evolved from an investment club into an advisory company for athletes wanting to invest.
In 2019, The Players’ Impact began expanding through live events, said Colston. That included live pitches to educational discussions. After seeing the impact that the educational events were having, the company launched the Global Locker Room, a new digital platform built for athlete investors and entrepreneurs.
“It allows us to connect all of these different types of resources and access to education in one virtual platform and ultimately expand our reach into a much broader network of athletes,” Colston said.
Not everyone can get access to the Global Locker Room, said TPI Founder and CEO Tracy Deforge. Very simply, the platform is a pass-protected environment for athletes across three different categories: the athlete investor, the athlete entrepreneur, and the athlete in transition.
The Global Locker Room provides numerous opportunities for athletes of varying needs, said Deforge. Some learn how to become better investors and understand the nuances behind making deals. Others use it to accelerate their businesses and have other capital sources at their disposal. With the athletes in transition, it helps them network and find potential employers through TPI’s mentoring and internship program.
“It allows them to have some insight into the industry before making the leap or before being in a place where they have to make that decision,” Deforge said.
There is still work to be done with getting more companies involved with TPI, said Deforge. One business that is working with the Global Locker Room is Thuzio, a sports media and events company co-founded by former New York Giants running back Tiki Barber. It is going to assist TPI by entering new markets with corporate members that the Global Locker Room’s athletes can align with for potential business endeavors.
The Global Locker Room is also the first of many expanded membership features for TPI athletes, investors, and entrepreneurs. To start 2020, TPI rolled out a paid membership option for the Global Locker room, said Colston. For $999 per year, members get the added ability to engage with other athletes, search for new investments, and view webinars and office hours held by the experts that they’ve offered, said Deforge.
Both Colston and Deforge declined to disclose how many paid members they have on the Global Locker Room. They noted that the platform already has 200 non-paying subscribers, and they anticipate a large contingent will pay for the service.
“Like any good startup, we’re very optimistic that we’ve shown enough value to our community,” Deforge said. “We think the majority of our current community will come over as members.”
One member that has been particularly impressed with the Global Locker Room is Iman Houston Farrior, wife of former NFL veteran James Farrior. A national program manager at Compass, a real estate tech company, Houston Farrior discovered the Boston-based TPI through friends from the area.
Already active in the investment, Houston Farrior saw the Global Locker Room as a unique way for her and her husband to pool money with other athletes on larger investment opportunities. She did have questions about what type of deal flows TPI possessed and how it analyzes investments.
After reaching out to Deforge and others at TPI, she and her husband were presented with numerous investment opportunities that they wouldn’t have had access to. That’s when she knew that the Global Locker Room was legitimate and can help athletes strengthen their business repertoire.
“You want to cast a wide net; you want to see every opportunity that you can get your hands on so that when you do whittle it down to a few that you want to be your portfolio companies,” Houston Farrior said. “TPI does a lot of that for us because they’re fielding I’m sure by now hundreds of deals in months and whittling it down and presenting those final selected companies to the [Global Locker Room].”
When Amanda Reese attended Georgetown University in 2008, she was a part of a women’s basketball program that made the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament all but once. Following her time as a Hoya, she worked in Louisiana before receiving her M.B.A. from Tulane University’s A.B. Freeman School of Business.
Following her collegiate career, Reese pivoted towards traditional marketing and was looking for like-minded people to help her navigate through the next stages of her professional aspirations. Before meeting Colston and Deforge, a TPI advisor invited her to a networking event held by the company.
Within minutes, she saw the impact that TPI could have on her professionally and made her want to take that leap with the Global Locker Room.
“From the very beginning of the event, I just felt like I finally was in an environment that was interested in me – not only as an athlete or a former athlete but as a business person, as an entrepreneur,” Reese said. “That was kind of different. Usually, people are really into the fantasy of being like an athlete in school.”
“I was finally around people that were asking me important questions and exposing me to different ideas.”