Ex-footballer Louis Saha hopes to protect ‘exposed’ sportsmen from exploitation with new venture

Former Manchester United and France striker seeks £4m for Axis Stars: an exclusive social media platform for elite athletes combined with contract management tool.

Footballer-turned-entrepreneur Louis Saha is seeking £4 million for his business Axis Stars, an exclusive social network and contract management app aimed at the world’s top athletes. Saha, along with co-founder Patrice Arnera, is hoping to provide a comprehensive service that provides financial, lifestyle and career management benefits for users.

So far around 200 athletes have signed up to the online platform. They include Chelsea striker Didier Drogba and British Olympic hero Mo Farah. The company is looking predominantly for business angel investment – Saha having already invested a portion of his own savings into the company.

Saha told Growth Business he was inspired to launch the platform by a combination of his own experiences as a player and stories of other sportspeople experiencing problems.

“Elite athletes are young, very focused on their sports and can instantly earn the same as a company director, so they are very exposed,” he said. “They are also very recognisable, so everyone sees them on the pitch every week and thinks ‘well they’ve got a lot of money’”.

This can lead to an “invoice being doubled” when people recognise athletes in a business context, which poses a very particular challenge according to Saha. He says that the reaction to Axis Stars from both players and sports associations has been overwhelmingly positive.

“There’s an acknowledgement that something needs to be done to change the ways thing work in the industry,” he said. “It will take time but we hope that mobile solutions like this will go some way to making a difference.”

Combining a solid career management tool with modern mobile technology is one way Axis Stars is looking to make a real difference in this area. And he claims that “by being here for the players, not just for business”, the team behind the product are perfectly positioned to do this.

“Obviously we have to make it financially viable for this to work, but we’re not sharks,” he said.

Co-founder Patrice Arnera told Growth Business the company has had to “re-adjust its thinking” around future objectives after hitting the initial target of 100 members well within the first year.

“We started thinking maybe our initial targets were too low as we didn’t expect it to take off as it has,” he said. “Now we’re looking to consolidate the technology and add more functionality. One of the goals is to expand the target market to more leagues. Right now we’re targeting the elite – so Premiership and Championship players in terms of football. We’re looking about taking our product out to the minor leagues also.”

Further reading on sports: 6 sportsmen who started their own business

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2016 to 2018.

Related Topics

Sports Market