What is Startmate's Athlete Fellowship?

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Phoebe Pincus
January 28, 2022
Athlete Fellowship
Photographer: Unsplash/Markus Spiske.


Over the last seven days we’ve received a huge amount of interest in and enquiries about our Athlete Fellowship, so we've put together some information on exactly what it is we’re proposing here.

If you asked me to list five qualities I thought someone needed to be a successful startup operator, I think I’d say something like:

  1. Thrive in fast-paced, competitive environments;
  2. Unusually self-motivated and disciplined;
  3. Feedback and learning/self-improvement expert;
  4. Excellent communicator & teammate; and
  5. Highly goal-oriented.

In that sense, the key difference between what an elite athlete does every day and what an operator in a high-growth startup does every day is largely in the role title. 


Why should a current or ex-elite athlete want to work in a startup?

Elite athletes are an incredibly high-potential group of individuals who often get lost in the transition to a desk job when they retire from elite-level sport. There's also a huge amount of research showing they find the departure from such a dynamic, high-performance environment to a slower-paced, static workplace highly demotivating. 

But as per the above, (and outlined very well here), we believe there are incredible parallels between elite athletes and startups, and that startups provide the perfect environment for an athlete to re-ignite (or keep firing) the sense of challenge and purpose they felt in their athletic career.

Startups, almost as a rule, have a clear goal that the team is working towards and a set of values and principles that the team lives by. They’re feedback machines, constantly challenging you and pushing you out of your comfort zone. They care deeply about their players' — sorry, employees' — wellbeing, if not just for the sake of high performance, and are okay with mistakes as long as you’re learning from them.


What is the purpose of the Athlete Fellowship?

We’re looking to build a world-first program that bridges the gap between elite athletes and startups. It will equip athletes with the information, support, community and coaching to land an epic job, and connect growing ANZ startups with a pool of incredible athletic talent.

Typically, our programs at Startmate run for around two months with a commitment of 2-4 hours a week.

Among other things, in this program you can expect to:

  • Learn more about the startup industry (roles, industries, mechanisms) to give you confidence in your next step;
  • Receive personalised mentorship on how the skills you’ve built as an athlete will translate into startups and, based on your strengths and interests, what kind of role/startup you should look to join;
  • Become a part of a community of elite athletes across disciplines who are going through a similar transition to you; and
  • Get exclusive access to our startup job board and direct introductions to epic companies.


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The Athlete Fellowship is a program and community for elite athletes who are curious about founding, investing in or working in a startup.

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Athlete Fellowship
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Phoebe PincusPhoebe Pincus
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