Simon Dent, founder of HERO: “I want to take the learnings from Dark Horses to athlete management”

The Playknox recently spoke with Simon Dent, co-founder of Dark Horses to know more about the launch of his new Sports Management agency called HERO. Excerpts: 



Tell us about your journey in sports Simon?


I have always been a passionate sports fan but I studied at a law university. I got a law degree and then went to law school and qualified as a lawyer. It was only a bad experience in the legal profession that actually led me to work in the sports industry. I didn’t really enjoy life in the city and found myself at a crossroads as to what I should do. I spent so many years studying to be a lawyer, and ultimately it was adversity that put me on the path to a career in sport. The first real step into the world of sport was sports memorabilia. I actually opened a sports memorabilia shop in London. That was my first venture in sport. After that I have worked as an agent, owned a publishing company and founded Dark Horses the creative agency.


Tell us more about HERO, the new talent management agency


It’s pretty exciting.  One my first careers in sport was that of a talent agent. I was very fortunate to look after some well known rugby players and footballers around 2008 -2012. I was passionate about the industry and had very good relationships within the world of sport also as a qualified lawyer I had the commercial contract skills as well. Back then a few incidents left a bit of a bad taste so I became open minded to other opportunities. And so when the opportunity at BBH came along in 2014 I jumped at it.


I worked at BBH for 2 years helping Lawrence Dallaglio and Ben Fennell set up BBH Sport. It was a wonderful time and we made some amazing work for the likes of Samsung, Adidas, Rugby World Cup, Invictus Games and Ladbrokes. I went from BBH Sport to setting up my own agency with the founders of Lucky Generals in 2016 called Dark Horses.


Dark Horses was a huge success and to this day still is. I stepped down as the MD back in the summer of 2020 so for 12 months I had time to think about what I wanted to do next. Back in August this year the idea for HERO was born.


I wanted to launch a talent management agency that values commercial, mentorship and giving back to society in equal measures. HERO will do that. I learned a lot in the last 6 years at Dark Horses about brands and brand strategy, I wanted to take those learnings into the world of athlete management. Sport really does have the power to change the world. We want to help our HEROES have a positive impact.


We have 4 pillars to the business


Commercial. Infused with strategic and branding expertise we maximise the commercial opportunities a career in sports provides.We extend this by helping Heroes transition into new walks of life once their playing days end.

Mentorship.We pride ourselves on fostering long-term relationships where client wellbeing and happiness are central.With a network of like-minded Heroes we find mentors for our clients for different facets of their lives.

Giving Back. Whether aligning with existing charities or launching bespoke new foundations, we help Heroes give back.Give back to the sport that they love, the community they’ve come from and the family and friends who’ve supported them throughout.

Talent Procurement. As well as managing the careers of a number of high profile sports personalities we can also help with talent procurement for brands. We have an unrivalled list of contacts across the world of sport and entertainment so please don’t hesitate to get in touch with any specific talent requests.



What’s your clientele like right now?


I’m very fortunate because obviously not many people get to launch a business with a pre existingclient list. The founding clients are Chris Kamara, Chris retired from playing many years ago but now is a very well known broadcaster and does lots of work for various brands. He is an ambassador for Show Racism The Red Card, Marie Curie and is doing some work with Shelter this Christmas.


And then a young England rugby league player by the name of Kruise Leeming, who made his England debut last month. So he’s really exciting and obviously the Rugby League World Cup is taking place in England next year and we hope Kruise to be a star of the tournament.


In total we have 7 clients who we are working exclusively with. I feel very blessed to spend my time with some incredibly successful and decent human beings.


I need to then start recruiting a team as I bring more and more clients on board.


How challenging is the job as an agent?


It is really interesting. It’s ultimately down to personal relationships. When you work for a company, your clients are companies’ clients. There is a degree of separation between your job and your clients. The amazing thing about talent management is that you get to know your clients family, their friends and you are effectively a friend as well. You’re on call all day and all night, which is great. I am adamant that I only want to work with good people.



And I think that sometimes when working with companies, it’s very challenging because you may have an individual at that company who maybe is not that pleasant, but there are other people who are good whereas in the world of talent management, when meeting talent, you very quickly can decide if you want to work with them or not.  So yeah, it all depends on personal relationships.

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