Greg Tinkler eats, breathes and sleeps sport, which hardly makes him unusual among his twenty-something year-old South African male peers. Where he is exceptional, though, is in having established himself as one of the youngest ever sports agents in the country – he signed his first rugby client at the tender age of 20 – and in building a diverse sports solutions company that’s meeting a big market gap.
“I had many friends in the professional sporting world who simply weren’t getting what they needed from their agents,” says the founder of the Cre8tive Group. “Most agents look at the deal for today and neglect the future. The professionals I spoke to wanted more opportunities to leverage their status as sports professionals while they still had it, and they needed advice and direction on what to do once they retired,” he adds.
Cre8tive Sports Solutions was founded to meet this gap, and while Tinkler initially focused on professional athlete management and sports marketing and sponsorship, the business quickly diversified into other related areas. Cre8tive Brands was developed as a marketing, promotions and brand activation consultancy that uses the business’s sporting personalities to promote the brands of premier companies.
“From there it was an easy step to expanding our focus beyond just sports personalities to include other celebrities, and Cre8tive Talent was born,” Tinkler explains. Today the company boasts top celebrities and personalities as its clients, including comedian Barry Hilton, music artist Ard Matthews and rugby player Guthro Steenkamp, to name but a few.
Youth and inexperience gave Tinkler passion, enthusiasm and a fresh take on an established industry, but it wasn’t without its challenges. After all, what can a twenty-something year old possibly know about the tricky art of contract negotiation? “I put myself through every course and seminar I could on sports law, negotiation, contracts, and of course you learn as you go – from your mistakes as well as your successes,” he says.