Seven years ago, Tyler Hollingsworth returned to South Africa from the United States having completed his tertiary education on a sports scholarship. He was often asked how he got to the States on a scholarship and giving out this advice sparked the idea to create a business: Aspire Atlantic.
Aspire Atlantic is an educational consultancy that helps students study and play sport in the United States on sports scholarships. It now has 12 employees. “Since I started the business in 2015, I have had an overwhelming response and have sent 450 students to the US. Some of the students have been enrolled at Ivy League universities. There are many South Africans exploring studying abroad opportunities,” he says.
He adds that 70% of students return to South Africa once they have completed their studies bringing their expertise back into the country. “The goal is to give students the best opportunities so they can achieve, diversify their thoughts and experiences and bring that back to make South Africa a better place,” says Tyler.
Aspire Atlantic specialises in 12 different sports played in South Africa. Among these are soccer, rugby, field hockey, golf, swimming, basketball, baseball and tennis. The focus is on sports that South African students excel at.
Aspire Atlantic’s Elite Programme is a pro-bono recruitment initiative to find talent in communities and give underprivileged and previously-disadvantaged students a scholarship opportunity.
Tyler says the industry is cut-throat. “We are innovative in technology but are also trusted, which can be seen in NPS scores and client reviews. As long as we keep our clients’ best interests at heart, growth will come organically,” he believes.
His advice for start-ups is never to give up, follow dreams and don’t be afraid of mistakes. “The students who succeed are those who never quit. They face adversity and overcome challenges. The same applies to entrepreneurs. Don’t give up, work hard and you will succeed.”
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