Francis Kanneh had dreams of playing big time college football, and like many American high school students, Kanneh worked hard to develop his skills. However, like many students at high schools across the United States, Kanneh found it was much more difficult to get spotted by college coaches.
Kanneh created his company as a way for student athletes to actively sell themselves to college coaches. With the competitive nature of the sports world, UnderRecruited Preps assists those seeking a future in sports at the college level. Kanneh has seen his company grow and exceed his own expectations. What started as a business during his undergrad years has turned into a company that he runs first hand every day.
Kanneh is now working on his graduate degree, but that doesn’t mean he has taken a backseat to running his company. Kanneh continues to build UnderRecruited Preps day by day, and so far, he has helped over 1,000 student athletes achieve their dreams of playing college athletics.
Kanneh sat down with Totalprestige Magazine to tell us a little bit about UnderRecruited Preps and being a college student CEO.
Francis, what is UnderRecruited Preps?
The athletic recruiting process is time consuming, confusing, and very difficult if one doesn’t know where to start. An online recruiting profile is very important to have college coaches view academic and athletic abilities. UnderRecruited Preps connects student athletes to college coaches and teaches them about the athletic recruiting process.
We currently have over 50,000 users and 100,000 social media followers.
How did the company begin and what have been some of the highlights?
My whole life I wanted to be a division one quarterback and I ended up going to four different high schools in the process. I went to a small 2A school, 4A school, 5A school and attended a 6A school. I realized there are lots of talented athletes out there who do not get recognized and slip through the cracks in the college recruiting process.
I’ve always been an entrepreneur since I was a kid, so I promised myself in high school I would create something to help student athletes in the athletic recruiting process. I started the business in my dorm room at 19 with $-40 in my bank account. I worked very hard and also learned a lot about business along the way. I remember in the early days I stayed up for eight days at one point working nonstop. I was fortunate to attend Minnesota State University and met a lot of mentors and teachers that helped me along the way. I didn’t do this myself. I had mentors throughout this journey and I’m forever grateful.
Please let us know who can benefit from UnderRecruited Preps and how?
Student athletes who are under recruited and want to be recruited by college coaches. Parents also save lots of money and time compared to other recruiting services.
Francis, what really sets UnderRecruited Preps apart from competitors?
The software is very easy to use and very user friendly. Student athletes have access to every college in the country (Gold and Platinum members) and recruiting tips and tools to help them conquer the recruiting process.
What’s next for UnderRecruited Preps?
We are currently seeking a seed investment round of funding. Also, adding more features to the site.
What is the most challenging part of your work?
As a college student running a business, it is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Early mornings and late nights. I didn’t know anything when I first started the company, so I learned as I went. Lost a lot of money, but I learned a lot.
What was your most rewarding professional experience?
Helping over 1,000 athletes go to college while in college will always be something I’m most proud of. This website exceeded my expectations. Never would have imagined this, but I did work very hard. Hard work pays off.
Francis, what is a day in your life like?
My day starts in the early mornings usually around 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. Sometimes I have terrible insomnia and can’t sleep until 6 a.m. or 7 a.m. and take a two to three hour nap. Depends on what the problems are for the day. Some days you have to answer hundreds of emails and others you have to talk to the web developers about a new feature or about a problem that needs to be fixed. I usually work until 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. Study for two to three hours followed by reading books or the Wall Street Journal. Then back to work.
What has been your greatest achievement?
Starting a company with $-40 in my account and graduating college debt free. Also on track to graduate grad school debt free as well. Which is crazy, because where I come from they tell us that the only way to be successful is to play football, basketball, or do music. I’ve always been different. I remember when I was like 12 or 13 and had a lawn mowing business. In high school, I sold stuff on eBay. I realized the power of social media early on being an early adopter. Social media is why this business is even alive right now.
Which historical figure do you most admire?
Robert F. Smith, the founder and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, and Reginald Lewis. I studied those two all through my college career. I use to watch every video and book about them. Those are my role models and I hope to meet Robert F. Smith one day. Mark Cuban is also some one that I admire and somebody I studied in undergrad school.
Francis, do you have any hobbies?
Hobbies include reading, writing music, traveling, working out, and watching sports
What are you never without?
My phone. I work on my phone with majority of my time being on social media.
Choose two of your favorite quotes and write them here
“Intelligence can create huge profits, and in fact, you can actually make more money being smart than you can being strong or fast.”- Robert F Smith
“Somewhere he is out there training while I am not, and when we meet, he will win.”- Tim Tebow
What advice would you give to anyone starting a new business?
Start. Launch the MVP and go from there. The first website that I created looked terrible but people still bought the product then I reinvested the profits back into the business and created a new website. You learn as you go. College is the best time to start a business. You have tons of free time and not a lot to worry about besides passing a class.
For more information on Francis Kanneh and UnderRecruited Preps, please visit http://www.underrecruitedprep.com/.