Sunny Shah graduated in the top 2% of his class from the University of Virginia with a B.A. in Economics. While in college, he started his own marketing and events company and became close friends with many of the athletes playing for the university. Prior to founding 320 Sports, Shah was a successful investment banker on Wall Street where he developed his negotiating skills and made many strategic business relationships that helped jumpstart his career as a sports agent.
In 2009, Shah made the career shift official, when his client Eugene Monroe was selected 8th overall making Shah one of the youngest agents to represent a top 10 pick. He followed that up in 2010, by becoming the youngest agent to represent top 15 picks in back to back years.
Shah learned the business quickly by sitting in on meetings of agents soliciting his athlete friends, sparking an interest in the sports representation world. Shah currently represents 12 players in the NFL.
D’Bria: What has been the biggest learning lesson over the course of your time in the industry?
Sunny: As an agent, I think we learn something new everyday. The athlete representation business is constantly evolving and as agent we have to be able to adapt so we can give our clients proper guidance and advice.
D’Bria: If there was one thing about the sports industry that you could change, what would that be and why?
Sunny: From the perspective of a football agent, the one thing I would change is the nature of non-guaranteed contracts in the NFL. Football is an extremely violent sport and these players put a tremendous amount on the line every time they lace the cleats up and put the shoulder pads on. When you look at all the other professional sports leagues, like the NBA or the MLB, contracts are fully guaranteed. Its our job as agents, along with the NFLPA, to continue the fight for more guaranteed money.
D’Bria: Depending on the person, mentorship plays a key role in an individual’s career progression. Have you had any mentors over the years? What message(s) have they instilled in you?
Sunny: Role models and mentors can really play a big role in a person’s career development and success. I am a big supporter of all my clients having mentors and people they aspire to be like and often times try to connect my rookie clients with the veteran ones so that they can help the younger players avoid certain pitfalls that may come their way. Personally, whether it was my father or older brother to my first high school basketball coach or even my old bosses during my time on Wall Street, I attribute a tremendous amount of my success to the advice and support that they gave me through the years.
D’Bria: Since you’re a one-person operation with your agency, what is a day in the life of Sunny Shah look like?
Sunny: No day is the same. As agents, our jobs are not monotonous and everyday presents you with new opportunities and new challenges. I am actually not a one-person operation, my support staff does a tremendous job handling our clients day-to-day needs. Our clients know that we are there for them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You have to be ready for anything….it just comes with the territory.
D’Bria: In 100 words or less, what advice do you have for aspiring sport business professionals?
Sunny: Build a track record or resume of experience. Try to get some internships that will give you first had knowledge of what the job entails on a daily basis and try to network as much as possible. Build relationships with people within the industry and try to align yourself with people that can help you learn the business. The sports industry is one of the toughest to break into so you have to be determined, persistent, and don’t be afraid of rejection.