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Penn Alumni Andreas Schreiber transitioned from playing professional basketball to sales which to him was only natural. (Photo from Andreas Schreiber)

The transition to sales after professional basketball is only natural — according to former Penn men’s basketball player Andreas Schreiber, that is.

Graduating from Penn in 2011 with a degree in environmental science, business was a completely foreign idea to him. 

Although Schreiber was born in the United States, he moved at a young age to Stockholm, Sweden, before returning to the U.S. for high school. His dual citizenship allowed him to compete for his club team Täby Basket and later the Stockholm Junior Team, as well as the Swedish National Team. 

Initially, Schreiber was unsure of the role he would play on the Swedish National Team. But when injuries plagued the team’s usual rotation, Schreiber found himself with an opportunity to show his years of training.

“A couple guys got injured so I actually got into the first string all the way up to the starting five,” Schreiber said. “I played really well, too, so I was lucky enough to get a contract in the Second Spanish League, which was considered one of the top leagues in Europe at that point.”

Playing for Club Bàsquet Tarragona, Schreiber averaged 7.1 points and 4.1 rebounds per game while shooting 53% from the field over 34 games. After one year in Spain, Schreiber bounced around from teams in Sweden, England, and France. 

In his 2012-2013 season in England’s British Basketball League (BBL), Schreiber led the Plymouth Raiders to the league's semifinals, averaging 12.5 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game.

“When I was playing, I realized I had a lot of free time,” Schreiber said. “I figured that I'd do something productive, so I started researching on how to start a business.”

By his third year in Europe, Schreiber had put together his business plan and 15 designs for a cashmere sock company, Evoke Socks. Each of his luxury cashmere dress sock designs was tied to a specific charity to try to raise social awareness. 

“My idea came from Toms Shoes, which is a big for-profit company, a one-for-one [in which one item is donated for each item purchased],” Schreiber said. “But I thought [donating] a dollar per sock would make more sense. I had 15 designs and 15 charities I was helping.”

At the same time, Schreiber was rolling out another business venture as well: Prolete Formula. As a basketball training program, Prolete Formula provided instructional courses for athletes to help them heighten their abilities. 

After a few years, however, neither company was getting to where Schreiber envisioned them.

“It didn't really take off the way I wanted it to,” Schreiber said. “I was putting a lot of effort into something that I felt like someone else could probably do better, so I sold it to a subscription box company called SprezzaBox.”

After a few years of weaving his entrepreneurial ventures into his basketball career, Schreiber was ready for a new journey.

“I was done with [my companies] and I felt like that was a great segue into the business world,” Schreiber said. “Evoke Socks and Prolete were a great way for me to learn by doing — I saw it more as an educational way into [sales].”

At the same time, Schreiber was getting tired of his career in basketball. 

“People talk about these million dollar contracts out there that we [professional basketball players] never really saw,” Schreiber said. “I was talking to my friends who were working in McDonald's making more than I was. I had this amazing title of a professional basketball player, but I wasn’t making any money.”

Schreiber recounts his interest in the sport beginning to fade.

“There were a lot of politics involved, agents, people who saw foreigners differently, and stuff like that — so I figured it was time to figure out a different journey,” Schreiber said.

Trying to determine his next journey after professional basketball, Schreiber tapped into his network of friends, family, and Penn alumni. 

“People who have been in the tech world for a while told me that I should try to get into sales,” Schreiber said. “[I was told] that it's similar to basketball; it's competitive and the soft skills are transferable. So I figured, why not.”

At first, the transition wasn’t easy for Schreiber. Beginning at a small technology company called Gigya, Schreiber had to once again start from the bench.

“I was what's called a BDR or SDR, which was the very bottom of the totem pole,” Schreiber said. “It’s a very hard-nosed job and not many people like it.”

But this was where Schreiber's soft skills from his basketball years really came into play. By constantly speaking with the media during his basketball career, Schreiber was well-equipped to talk to strangers in his cold-calling sales role. Schreiber’s research habits in scouting opposing basketball teams also prepared him well for researching potential clients and the relevant information for a sales pitch.

“It was a big shark tank [within sales]. Just absolute killer sales people who had insane grit who’re there from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., and that's where I really learned how to survive,” Schreiber said.

At the end of the day, sales was always what interested Schreiber in a business. While he certainly managed all aspects of the company with Evoke Socks and Prolete Formula, it was sales that was the most exciting to him.

“When you get a one thousand dollar order, you get really excited about it and it's almost like winning a game,” Schreiber said. “I don’t think there are other opportunities like that in other positions like marketing or HR where you really get that competitive surge of adrenaline like you would playing basketball.”

To Schreiber, sales truly is a unique industry that offers the competitive spirit of sports. It was only natural to transition to sales after professional basketball.

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