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How John Bronson Navigated the Business World With Babson College

Former NFL tight end John Bronson always had a plan for life after the game.

The Penn State football standout knew coming into the league his time could be up at any minute. Picked up as an undrafted free agent by the Arizona Cardinals in 2005, Bronson was a "bubble" player and fought to make the 53-man roster before a knee injury derailed his rookie season in the opening game. During this time of uncertainty, Bronson started creating his roadmap for his next career the business world.

Bronson at Penn State University
"I took measures to set the table for what was going to happen after the game."

“Almost out of the gate I surrounded myself with people who were doing better than I was on the business side of things,” Bronson said. “I tried to learn from them and get a glimpse of what things are like as an entrepreneur. I took measures to set the table for what was going to happen after the game.”

The Cardinals officially released Bronson in 2007, and his first post-football business was a tough learning experience.

“I had a venture in the real estate market and lost my hand in a deal that I didn’t monitor well at the time,” Bronson said. “However, that was one of the best learning experiences I ever had, because it opened my eyes to not make that mistake in the future. Before, I would always jump at opportunities that seemed too good to be true. Following that I would always research for myself and have enough knowledge to make an informed decision.”

"I would always jump at opportunities that seemed too good to be true. Following that, I would always research for myself and have enough knowledge to make an informed decision.”

Despite the initial setback, Bronson continued to build his skillset and work to find success. Reading books and listening to speakers helped hone marketing skills, and after activating his benefit with The Trust in 2014, Bronson utilized the entrepreneurial programs available at Babson College.

The entrepreneurial programs are located at Babson College, just outside of Boston, MA. Players spend the week at the Executive Conference Center, which has food and lodging on-site.

Bronson started the curriculum with Babson 101: It’s My Business. This introductory program is designed to assess interests in business, discern company focus and assist with understanding business complexities and challenges. At the time, Bronson had founded PACC The Pro Network, a company that helps small business owners scale and source resources within the sports world. Since his company was already off the ground, Babson 101 provided a reinforcement and expansion of his business acumen.

Following his experience, Bronson continued the curriculum with Babson 201: Starting My Business and Babson 301: Growing My Business, which dives deeper into the business model and each participant’s individual company.

“John was one of the first former players to attend a Trust workshop at Babson,” Babson Professor Fred Nanni said. “He must have found it beneficial (and fun), because he quickly came back for more. In fact, he is the only man to have attended all three Babson-Trust workshops – 101, 201, and 301. Each workshop is designed for men at a different stage in their entrepreneurial development, and John was able to progress quickly enough through those stages and cover all three in very short order.”

“I kind of grew with the programs,” Bronson said. “In (Babson 201), you got more into the meat and potatoes of your business in particular. In (Babson 301), rather than working on the ideas of business we got to focus on actually changing and adapting our own businesses.”

Two of the aspects that stuck out to Bronson during the curriculum were the “Shark Tank” style presentations and the successful entrepreneurs brought in to tell their stories.

“Some guy who was selling jeans gave us his story, and he looked very unassuming, so we were trying to figure out who he was,” Bronson said. “The guy next to me googled his name and we realized he was worth between $200 to $300 million dollars. He was able to show us that real people with good ideas and a business mind can make it work.”

"It was able to show us that real people with good ideas and a business mind can make it work.”

Since finishing the programming, Bronson has continued to develop his businesses. He recently created John Bronson Marketing, which branched his original small business consulting into a more digital and social focus.

His insight for other players looking to go into business? The skills are already engrained in you.

“Everyone has been an entrepreneur if they have stepped on an NFL football field,” Bronson said. “It’s very similar to sports – you don’t have anyone micromanaging you, you have to be the one to get up and go to practice and eat well and get treatment. It takes a lot of mental toughness and a lot of dedication.”

“Everyone has been an entrepreneur if they have stepped on an NFL football field."

READY TO BECOME AN ENTREPRENEUR?

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