by Nicole Russin
At one time, a professional athlete’s exciting career was over upon retirement. Gone were the screaming fans and adoration; in came a life of obscurity with a rare television appearance every few years.
Former top-ranked American tennis player Vince Spadea chose not to take the traditional path, opting for a new life as an entrepreneur. He is a rap artist, restaurateur, boutique acting/modeling agent, and mentor to young tennis players. On the side, Spadea is planning to create a clothing line, selling a DVD series on Amazon, and aninvestor in Smart Renovations USA.
“My best advice for anyone who wants to be an entrepreneur is to have passion for your idea or subject,” Spadea says. “Passion is an underrated term. There will be so many bumps in the road that will make you want to quit. You will find yourself saying things like, ‘We can’t find investors. Our funding fell through at the last minute. We were dealing with dishonest people. Someone stole or is trying to steal our idea or patent. Our company is not a cash flow positive revenue yet. How do we cut costs and hire better, smarter people?’ And the challenges continue.
“That’s why desire, passion, and focus are ultimate in being a great entrepreneur. Figuring out the solution takes that extra-inning time and effort. Also, knowing your subject really well is paramount. Doing research, finding the best experts in certain areas of that business sector will help your idea or company grow and expand. When evaluating companies, it’s all about the management team that separates the great ones from the failures. A great product or idea is not enough to make the grade. Hire well, manage little.
“The Vince Spadea ‘Play Like a Pro’ DVD series is a great tool to help improve your complete tennis game. It was a brilliant experience filming as well. I cover just about everything there is to know about tennis. From the most basic beginner, who needs to learn the grips, principle techniques, introduction to spins, tactics, and match play, to the most advanced pro player learning how to put points together better, and refines their stroke techniques with subtle and key elements. We really break down every stroke fundamentally, but at the same time keep it simple enough to understand and acquire a newly-improved shot.
“I worked very hard putting in hours of film days, to make sure I implemented all the knowledge I’ve amassed in 30 years in the sport of tennis, 20 of them at the professional stage. I really and truly believe anyone, at any level can learn and add something to their game if they listen carefully and apply what I say.”
Discussing his home remodeling business, Spadea says, “We can make a $2 million home look like $15 million. We build from scratch, or renovate an existing property. The attention to detail is key here. I love style, fashion, decor; all the things that move you emotionally. When you walk into a new hotel, it provokes a thought or opinion. Same thing when you visit someone’s house or condo. Our home is everyone’s pride and joy. We look to upgrade it, develop more, change the style, furniture, backyard etc. We are always having ideas for better or different decor. I collaborated with a friend of mine who has a real gift at construction and building.”
As a rapper, he declares, “My music has always been in me. I plan on releasing songs by the end of 2012. I have kept delaying and delaying. Typical artist, I know. I just want to be precise in what I represent and influence with. Music touches everyone ins certain ways, and I want to make sure people have fun, but also see that I do it for love, not gimmicks. It will be in the rap genre, which is ultra-popular now. I’m looking forward to planting my seed, officially in this game.”
He moved on to explain his agency. “My talent management company is called 6 Star Ventures. We focus on acting management, model agency placement, commercials, print, music bookings, promotional/nightlife. We have different divisions for different talents. We assist in anything from feature films, TV series, reality shows, music gigs, and more. As a management company, we help talents develop their careers overall. We assist in certain aspects, and essentially mentor them to maximize their potential. We work different than an agency. Agencies deal only with auditions, casting, and bookings and contract negotiations.”
Not too shabby for a guy whose restaurant, named Providence, which he has co-owned since 2005, is just blocks west of Paramount Studios. Spadea says he is happy to survive LA’s fickle eating habits.
“We just completed our seven-year anniversary party, which is exciting to be in business so long, especially in Los Angeles where the trends move quickly. It has been voted in the Top 3 of all LA restaurants by many LA magazines for may years in a row. I decided to invest because I thought it would be a fun challenge with a great group of past successful restaurant operators. We have an Iron Chef Award winner, an amazing manager, and a flawless staff of professionals. Just like tennis, when you put great talents together with a great team, in an organized fashion, it spells success.”
For anyone else thinking about life after tennis (or fill in the blank with your career here), Spadea says, it does exist. In fact, the end of the rainbow is far richer.
“Most athletes become coaches post-career because either they enjoy the mentoring aspect like I do, or because they don’t know anything else. They may be afraid to take on a new subject from the start, and not have confidence to navigate themselves to be successful, like they were in tennis. To be good at anything takes risk, hard work, and commitment. Most of us in our 30s after retirement don’t have the mojo to start from scratch. The key is to do something you’re passionate about. Then you will never cheat yourself.”
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