Next up Athletes is a USA Scholarship placement agency, recruiting and supporting sportsmen aged 16-21 with scholarship opportunities in America, working with young people all over the globe including Argentina, Hong Kong, South Africa and England.
So what do Next Up Athletes provide to their clients?
"A lot of the issues that we have in the current set up in a lot of countries is that kids get told at 18 'You are the best superstar in the world sign this 2 year deal contract' and then at the end of it they might have an injury or might not be as good any more and they get released..."
I had an amazing opportunity to speak to Brandon about his company, his values, inspirations, and more. Through just one conversation, I could tell that his goals for Next Up Athletes are more than just providing a service, It's vocational.
From their 100% money back guarantee to the increased support they give their clients to increase their sports ability without allowing it to overshadow their clients' education. We can see that this is a company that cares about more than just reaching a profit margin. This just shows us that Brandon's vision for his agency exceeds the values of established agencies in the sports industry.
In the picture above (One of Next up Athletes recruits Ishmaeel Isafodien from South Africa playing for Life University Rugby, Atlanta Georgia)
When did you start Next up Athletes and tell us a bit about your journey so far?
Brandon Founded Next Up Athletes in 2019.
"Being an inner-city kid from a one-parent household and going to America from one of the poorest areas in London was a massive deal for me and completely changed my life. It opened up doors for me, brought me connections and networks as well as contributing to taking my sport to a different level. America was a new environment, where I could also learn, which was a blessing to me, and so all I want is to be able to give that blessing to another young person who may need the same opportunity".
What do young aspiring sportsmen need to achieve in order to be a part of Next up Athletes?
"A relentless desire to work. Long story short, you can't be average. My team and I are putting our necks on the line to send our clients abroad therefore we set our standards very high. This means our clients must be all-rounders in terms of personal development, including their grades and personal habits.
In terms of Sports ability, they need to have played at a good level which depends on what country the client comes from, as we are a Global Agency we cater to all types of sportsmen and women, however, they must have some form of achievement that sets them apart from the rest, So we feel comfortable that they have the self-discipline to excel with our support"
What is important to you about being part of the process of recruiting new talent for US-based sports scholarships?
"Seeing a kid commit to a university of their dreams due to the work that you've done brings me a lot of joy. As well as this I am playing a key role in something that changes a young person's life.
Too often when a young person stops playing after High school they may instead fall into the system, or go into decline... being able to be a part of an uphill journey, really makes this worthwhile`'
Tell us about your current partnerships, as well as your exciting new partnership with Hubach Hockey academy.
"The Great thing about this industry is the partnerships, we have a lot of people who want to work with us and vice versa in terms of finding new talent.
Hubach Hockey academy is run by one of the most capped (awarded) Hockey female players in South Africa Kim Hubach (136caps) & her brother Darren Hubach who is an FIH outdoor umpire. Working with them provides many opportunities, as we can support their players in their transition to America and they are a trustworthy company."
I have seen that it is important for Brandon's Partners to have similar values as Next Up Athletes pride themselves in being trustworthy and not giving their clients empty promises.
In order to have solid partnerships, they must have faith in you, this has been clearly demonstrated in your new partnership, They believe you can take them to the next level, tell us the secret to setting these amazing foundations with your partners...
-Doing things the right way
-Focusing on customer empathy &
-Generating the most out of our clients.
These values attract partners that share the same values which include putting our client at the forefront of all our decisions. Through doing this we are essentially providing our clients with an opportunity that they will tell their peers about, we can never go wrong by being a brand that's focused on doing the right thing"
"We all share a dying desire to do the right thing for our clients"
What do you feel your company provides that sets you apart from other consultancy agencies?
"All the head of sports have been former D1 international athletes, for example, some of my team e.g Dale Sullivan & Sam Buckley (our Heads of Rugby), and myself have all represented Lindenwood University in the D1A National competition. We all share a dying desire to do the right thing for our clients, this makes us a trustworthy agency.
We also offer 100% money-back guarantee, and no other consultancy agency does this, showing that we literally put our money where our mouth is, as well as this we have an online SAT scheme supporting clients with tutors no matter what. As our clients are students first."
"People just assume discipline is doing the right thing. But I think that discipline is doing what you should do even if you don't want to."
How would you say discipline in business connects to discipline in sports?
"100% transferrable. People just assume discipline is doing the right thing. But I think that discipline is doing what you should do even if you don't want to. Going the extra mile, for sports, this could be training in the cold/ early hours. For a business this could be missing social events to stay at home and develop your company, using this same mentality is essential for success"
Brandon has really shown us something that we do not see often these days, and that is humility. Through experiencing going to university on a sports scholarship himself, he allowed the culture shock to influence his current view on the world through a broadened perspective.
This has resulted in him approaching this venture correctly, by believing that by having a good heart behind all your decisions, only success can come your way.
Making him just this, Inspirational!
"The sports industry is based on trust, but a lot of agencies take advantage of this, we don't take shortcuts and we care about more than money, we pride ourselves on doing the right thing that's what sets us apart"
What’s one piece of advice you could give to an aspiring entrepreneur?
"Be Bold! Do not be too scared to follow through, don't be scared of failing or what other people think.
Amazing ideas are good, but being able to execute, and persevere through difficulty because you are aware of the longterm goals of your service to the world is everything,
Combine your passion with a business idea, we all love sports, and so it doesn't feel like work for us. every one of our team members feels like they have a calling"
"Everyone of our team members feels like they have a calling"
Brandon feels the world needs an agency like Next Up Athletes, as they go the extra mile to help their clients. They all want to change the narrative on selfish agencies that they may have all been exploited by at one stage of their careers.
Being a sportsman at this scale is a big deal as you have established people with careers relying on your performance... How do you advise young people like the clients you work with to deal with the pressure of being a sportsman?
"I would say just always be prepared, I believe that if you don't prepare, you prepare to fail. I tell my clients, make sure you have done all your physical and mental training because a lot of things in sports and life, in general, is just a matter of going out and doing it. As long as you are working hard and taking care of yourself, you should be fine.
As a company we make sure to establish that our clients are students first, that means completing their degree while contributing to the sports in their chosen university... whereby the end we hope they receive a deal, with the combination of a completed degree. Our clients will be ready to conquer the world, and that's all we hope for"
By Shiroe Zita