Today marks 20 years since I created FirstPoint. What started as a simple idea that I worked on alone in my wife's student apartment, has grown into so much more. Reaching this milestone means a lot to me and I could not be more proud of where we are, and where we're going.
Back in 2001, I was a 22-year old graduate who was offering a service that had never existed before, to a market that had never heard of US scholarships, and without a penny or a day of business experience to my name. FirstPoint is now a global leader in sport and education consultancy, with a team of nearly 70 people working worldwide, creating life-changing opportunities for the next generation of student-athletes.
I was inspired to create FirstPoint after experiencing an amazing four years as a scholar-athlete at the University of Cincinnati. 'Life-changing' is a term we use a lot at FirstPoint, but it best fits the description of my time in the US and I have always been, and will always continue to be, eternally grateful to those that provided me with that opportunity. Whilst attempting to ply my trade as a professional footballer, I realised that there were likely lots of young sportsmen and women who are not aware of the pathway to the US and the academic and sporting opportunities that exist.
My goal was simple - to make it easier for student-athletes to secure scholarships to US universities and to make it easier for college coaches to find talented student-athletes. I wanted to make sure that everyone had the opportunity to find a path to university, through sport, regardless of their financial circumstances.
There was plenty of rejection along the way. After taking my idea to three banks and seven potential investors without success, it was the Prince's Trust who took the gamble and provided me with a grant for £1,000 to get the business started. This became the seed money that has ultimately resulted in more than $300 million in scholarship awards being secured for our athletes.
Every business has its challenges, but, thankfully, there have been many more highs than lows. I've been fortunate to have learned from lots of great people during this time; with Brendan Flood and John Banaszkiewicz providing the encouragement, guidance and support that has, in recent years, had the greatest impact on both myself and the business.
I am very fortunate to love my job. There have been more than 20,000 families that have entrusted FirstPoint with their child's future; an exceptional privilege which is never, not lost on me or our team. Whether it be signing our first-ever athlete, Richard Moodie, to seeing Danny Willett pull on the Green Jacket at The Masters, or following the careers of those who have become successful teachers, lawyers, doctors and engineers; it is the fuel that motivates me each and every day.
I’m extremely proud that FirstPoint is 20 today and very grateful for each and every person who has been with me on that journey – and allowed me to be a part of theirs.
Here's to the next 20 years!