Athlete Network wants to revolutionize how you hire employees


Although described as “LinkedIn for athletes,” Midwest startup Athlete Network actually serves two purposes: allowing athletes to expand both their athletic and professional connections.

“Our network is for athletes pushing themselves to get better. Whether looking for somebody to train with, or [to] find a company that’s going to embrace your competitive spirit, that’s what it’s for,” said Chris Smith, CEO and Founder of the community-based platform.

Their philosophy on the professional side of things is especially innovative.

“Companies hire a skill set first, and traits second, and we think that’s a mistake. We think it should be the other way,” said Smith.

Do great athletes make great job candidates?

Chris Smith, CEO and Founder of Athlete Network

Chris Smith

The Kansas City based network has 170,000 members in all 50 states, but Athelete Network is most active in Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, New York, and, of course, its hometown. Users of any professional or athletic background are welcome, from racquetball playing accountants to triathlete engineers.

Smith explains why their target audience allows Athlete Network to partner with companies of all kinds, such as accounting firm KPMG, medical device company Stryker, and commodity brokers FC Stone.

“The great thing is, most companies are competitive and results driven, so the traits of an athletically minded person correlates to any industry,” said Smith.

Smith’s first adventure in the recruiting world manifested as a traditional headhunting company in 2005. After growing the business to a successful size, Smith decided it was time to act on his long held idea to target athletic job seekers, and take the conventional hiring model into the 21st Century.

“Through that journey, I fell in love with technology, and the relevance it can bring,” said Smith. “And as I watched LinkedIn and other pioneers grow, it occurred to me that there are so many businesses that are after the athletic community, but there’s no centralized place for athletes to go.”

How Athlete Network works

Athlete Network aggregates their perfect target audience using the Athletic Quotient algorithm. Based on users’ profile information and interactions with other athletes on the site, the network is able to provide custom tailored suggestions on a career path and athletic endeavors.

“When you fill out your profile, you’re providing insight into attributes you possess in your professional career and athletic pursuits. We’re then able to match other people who share the same athletic and professional traits as you,” said Smith.

“So if you’re say, a marathoner, 30 years old, two jobs in one industry, we can look at members like you with the Athletic Quotient, and say, ‘Here’s a career path that people like you are succeeding at,’ and then, ‘Here’s a connection to the company.’”

Athlete Network was recently named Stryker’s Partner of the Year for having the most efficient interview to hire ratio, and most cost effective hiring approach.

“Companies hire a skill set first, and traits second, and we think that’s a mistake.”

Enterprise, another of Athlete Network’s company partners, has found the trait-based approach brings quality employees to their team.

“Enterprise has a ‘promote from within’ culture. Targeting the athletic community aligns with our values because athletes understand the value of team goals and preparing for long term success,” said Marie Artim, Vice President of Talent Acquisitions. .

On the athletic side, the algorithm also uses community-based recommendations for users to find a personally compatible path. And like with the professional aspect of the site, the Athletic Quotient makes it easy to take the next steps, including information like training locations, as well as users in your area that you can connect and compete with in their recommendations.

Athlete Network continues to grow

Athlete Network’ just launched a phone app for iPhone and Android a few weeks ago. The app is designed to make it easy to fill out a profile, and according to Smith, 82 percent of users have already filled out more than 60 percent of their profile. According to Smith, this is great news because when more members use Athlete Network, the better Athlete Network gets.

“The more members are using it, the more relevant community recommendations become,” said Smith. “We can see what they like and don’t like, and share with other athletes who will benefit. It allows us to find the right insights, and make the [whole] community strong.”


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