Young entrepreneurs: Tyrelle McLeod-Bentley and Junior Osei-Tutu, Soccer Assist
Two friends challenging the way international scholarships operate, these young entrepreneurs have built a successful agency for aspiring footballers
Names: Tyrelle McLeod-Bentley and Junior Osei-Tutu
Company: Soccer Assist
Ages: 23 and 22
Having studied on soccer scholarships at West Virginia Tech, UK-born Tyrelle McLeod-Bentley and Junior Osei-Tutu were all too familiar with the lack of meaningful support that international scholarship students received from the agencies who had placed them in the US.
Recognising the value that a more hands-on approach would bring, in January 2015 the enterprising friends launched Milton Keynes-based Soccer Assist: an agency which places young European athletes on US scholarships.
The agency supports aspiring footballers throughout their college careers and looks to provide them with opportunities to break into playing professionally.
Though this seems a large responsibility for a young pair to undertake, McLeod-Bentley and Osei-Tutu have found that their ages make for a winning formula; they’re able to relate on a closer level to their young athlete clients – who in turn feel more comfortable approaching them with problems or their visions for the future.
Having only invested £200 in the business – and making a dorm room bet that they would sign 20 athletes in their first year – Soccer Assist has been profitable from the start.
In 2016 things really (excuse the pun) kicked off, with the start-up on-boarding top Miami universities, joining the Entrepreneurial Spark accelerator in the UK, scooping several awards and forging yet more key partnerships.
2016 also saw McLeod-Bentley named by The Sports Industry Group and Barclays as one of 30 future sports industry leaders.
Today, alongside their scholarship packages, Soccer Assist has expanded to offer clients a government-funded football and education scheme which has each student playing football four times a week and competing in annual international tours while earning a BTEC Level 3 in sport.
The duo's vision for the future is to roll-out 10 Soccer Assist academy sites across the country and to expand their offering to all international students.
The start-up’s personal approach has already gained such success that we believe they will smash their goal in the net and, needless to say, the pair won their dorm room bet.