25 Feb 2022

Get to Know Past NVC Participants: Trey Athletes


With the New Venture Competition (NVC) Finale right around the corner and in celebration of the competition’s 25 years at Harvard Business School, we caught up with some of the past participants across the three tracks (Alumni, Student Business, and Social Enterprise) to learn more about how NVC and their time at HBS helped shape their entrepreneurial journey.

Tickets are now available for the NVC 2022 Finale on March 31, 6:00 – 7:00 pm.

Social Enterprise Initiative (SEI)

Rebecca Feickert, Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Trey Athletes

NVC team:
Timothy Erps
Rebecca Feickert (MBA 2018)
Brian Reynolds
LaJoi Royston (MEd 2013)

What inspired you to start your company or organization?
Trey Athletes is a Dallas-based nonprofit positioned at the intersection of college sports, education, and racial equity. Our vision is to transform college sports from an exploitative system that hinders the long-term advancement of its predominantly Black athletes to an equitable and transformative educational pathway that ensures lifelong success for talented Black young men and women. Only when athletes realize their potential far beyond the court or field will we realize the true power of sports.

I played college basketball at the University of Kansas. Five years after graduation, I was living in New York and working in finance when I reconnected with my network of former teammates and athlete friends. I was shocked to find that many of them were struggling. These are some of the most driven, coachable, and resilient people I’ve ever met, and yet they were working dead-end jobs, unsuccessfully coping with their lack of team support, and failing to forge new identities. I knew that they were capable of so much more and wanted to ensure that future athletes received the education and experiences they needed to thrive financially and emotionally after college.

How has HBS helped with your entrepreneurial journey?
Trey Athletes wouldn’t be where it is today without our time at HBS. Alongside my co-founder and co-CEO Brian Reynolds and team, we participated in every possible entrepreneurship resource, including the i-lab Venture Incubation Program, the Rock Accelerator, Startup Bootcamp, and the President’s Innovation Challenge, in which Trey was a finalist. Along the way, we received incredible advice, funding, workspace, and other resources from a long list of mentors, advisors, professors, alumni, and HBS staff. Attending HBS was the best thing for me and for Trey Athletes.

What part of the NVC journey was most helpful for your team>
We especially benefited from the advice of our advisors and from preparing and executing our pitch. The experiences we had and the connections we formed laid the foundation for our more recent successes. Trey won the 2020 Audience Choice Award for DFW Social Innovator of the Year through the United Way Social Innovation Accelerator. Trey was also accepted into the prestigious Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation (DRK), a three-year fellowship that rigorously selects 15-20 nonprofits globally each year. DRK’s managing partner, Stephanie Khurana, first learned about Trey through NVC.

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Focus on your strengths and how your unique abilities can drive the organization’s success. Surround yourself with great people who you trust and who make you better. And give yourself some grace; it’s a long and tough journey, but what you accomplish and how you grow as a person and a leader make it all worth it.

What is a failure that you experienced as an entrepreneur and what did you learn from it?
Although our mission has always been the same, we have pivoted Trey’s operating model multiple times throughout our history. One of the earliest and hardest decisions to make was to pivot from a for-profit tech platform to a non-profit direct services program. Changing course can sometimes feel like failure, but in true lean startup fashion, we’ve stayed committed to solving the problem in the most effective way possible, and not being too attached or blind to any one way to get there.

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