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Columbia Business School

Entrepreneurship for Professional Athletes

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Professional athletes today are aware of the unique opportunity they have to leverage their hard-earned personal brand and relationships into off-the-field endeavors to realize value even after retirement.

Developed in partnership with sports professionals, the Entrepreneurship for Professional Athletes program is designed to provide them with both the framework and the tools required to validate and launch new business ventures. From for-profit to nonprofit venture, this program helps participants put together the game plan needed to realize their vision and mitigate execution risk.

Participants will validate an actual business idea during the course of the program and develop the materials needed to successfully execute and recruit the right team of partners and investors.

The program features top Columbia Business School faculty, who bring cutting-edge research and business theory, as well as a speaker lineup of founder and investor guest speakers. By the end of the program, participants will have expanded their professional network and built a comprehensive tool kit for validating their business idea and pitching it to investors and partners.


This program will equip current and retired professional athletes with the skills necessary to properly evaluate the viability of new ventures as well as the basic materials needed to pitch investors and other partners. Using lean startup methodology, participants will be able to develop an action plan for getting new ventures in market while mitigating execution risk.

You will walk away from the program with:

  • An executive summary for your new venture
  • A simple financial model to understand your capital requirements
  • A five-minute presentation to pitch to investors or partners
  • An understanding of capital-raising options that are a fit for your venture
  • The opportunity to pitch to and get feedback from real investors

Program Structure

Topics include:

  • The Startup Journey
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Minimum Viable Product
  • Growth Hacking and Gaining Traction
  • Negotiations
  • Demo Day Practice
  • Financial Modeling for Startups
  • Understanding Seed Stage Securities

The program will culminate with a live demo day, during which participants will have the chance to meet with and evaluate real-life startups in the market for venture capital.

Who should attend

Entrepreneurship for Professional Athletes is designed for current or retired professional athletes who wish to learn more about launching new ventures. The program will also be open on a case-by-case basis to executives in the professional sports industry. This program has no prerequisites, and a collaborative environment will foster growth for participants of all experience levels.


Following a successful business career as an entrepreneur in 2001 Cliff joined the Columbia Business School faculty as the Entrepreneur in Residence. In addition to teaching “Launching New Ventures,” he serves as faculty advisor to the Eugene M. Lang Investment Fund and in 1999 initiated the Gree...
Minnihan has been educating new investors about early-stage investing for over a decade. She is the founding partner of Reign Ventures and Venture Partner at Intend Ventures. As the first executive director of Golden Seeds, she began leading their investor training sessions in 2006. Since then, E...
Colston currently serves as the managing partner of Dynasty Digital, a multi-faceted digital company he founded and launched in August 2017. A Super Bowl Champion and all-time leading wide receiver in New Orleans Saints history, Marques is also an investor and advisor to various early-stage compa...


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