Cervando Tejeda is a Principal at Kilimanjaro Sports Management (KSM). He represents professional basketball players including the newest member of the Orlando Magic, Jonathon Simmons. The following interview was conducted by a previous contributor to Sports Agent Blog. Check out KSM’s Twitter and website.
SAB: When did you realize that you wanted to pursue a career as a sports agent?
CT: I initially didn’t want to be an agent. I didn’t have a clue what “being” an agent meant. I wanted to work in the finance industry. I accidentally received an internship opportunity and that is when I realized I want to pursue the agent path.
What internships early on in your career prepared you well? What key lessons did you learn?
My internship with ThirdSports And Entertainment is what prepared me – Nathaniel Sain was/is a computer! The experience really gave me the inside view of running an agency from the European side. Yes, my first two years with Nathaniel was a lesson in itself. The most important thing I learned: be direct with all your clients.
You recently started your own agency, Kilimanjaro Sports Management (KSM). How has that helped or hindered your ability to service your clients?
Rebranding into KSM has given me a tremendous boost. I was able to implement a legal and marketing team which has helped me take the service aspect of my agency into another level.
This past summer was a major one for yourself as well as your clients. Tell us about your journey up until that point?
All I can say is that I jumped off the mountain without a parachute, bumped my head a few times, scratched my arms, legs and face, but I’m still alive. It has been an exciting journey – one that truly keeps me humble.
What were your days like during the NBA Draft?
It was exciting to see my client achieve his dream by believing in himself, the plan we put in place and staying focused on the goal.
How tough is it to recruit against the larger agencies? What kind of tactics do you employ to separate yourself from the rest of the pack?
When I’m recruiting I focus on what I have to do in order to sign the prospect. My full attention and focus is on the potential client, their families and how KSM can help them as clients.
You have a number of basketball players overseas. What is the process you go through when finding a player an opportunity?
The European market is so tricky with teams going bankrupt, owing money to players, etc. As an agent we have to be willing and able to conduct our due diligence on any European team that is inquiring about a client. When placing a client in Europe my primary focus is to make sure he will get all his money. After I establish that a team is financially secure, then I proceed with analyzing the team’s platform and roster in order to determine if this will be a great opportunity for the client.
Where do you see yourself and the direction the industry is heading over the next 3-5 years?
Right now we are taking it one step at a time. Growth is our primary focus. I tell all my employees and investors “We just have to keep our heads down and keep working.”
What advice do you have for those looking to enter the athlete representation field?
Don’t pay attention to the NOs! Keep your eye on the prize.