Alumnus Cliff Mander
Photo: Rob Kruyt

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Venture Connection client competes in the big leagues

October 03, 2017
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By Marianne Meadahl

SFU alumnus Cliff Mander (BBA ’13) launched his company, CKM Sports Management Ltd., while still a psychology student at SFU seven years ago. Today, Mander, who is in the process of attaining NHL player agent certification, has taken his venture aimed at empowering athletes into a whole new arena.

The company, one of SFU Coast Capital Savings Venture Connection’s early clients, has become one of North America’s leading hockey-player-specific agencies.

CKM Sports currently represents players in the National Hockey League (NHL), American Hockey League (AHL), East Coast Hockey League (ECHL), and overseas.

In May 2017, CKM introduced SportWork, a technology the firm created to help players and teams communicate, evaluate and complete the professional contract process.

Since then, CKM’s job portal has registered more than 1,600 players and 100 teams from 238 leagues in 21 countries—and has contracts available ranging from $20,000 to more than $600,000 (U.S.).

Among key signings is Mander’s first NHL deal. Hockey player Manuel Wiederer signed his entry-level contract with the San Jose Sharks this past spring.

In June, the company announced its partnership with the Alliance of European Hockey Clubs (EHC), which acts a union for the top 80 teams and 14 leagues in Europe, to include the CKM portal on its website for use by its teams.

 “It's great to be rewarded by the players, not only from a representation standpoint but by the reaction from the launch of our latest technology,” says Mander.

“Since the beginning, I've been very aware that to succeed in this business you have to compete against large and experienced agencies, therefore my approach and mindset was always to support players on a large scale.” 

A psychology degree was a critical part of his plan, creating a resourceful approach to dealing with the stress and pressures facing young athletes.

Mander also credits the mentorship of business consultant Dave Thomas, an advisor with Coast Capital Savings Venture Connection who helped him establish his business in 2010 and provided insights as Mander planned the company’s direction.

CKM Sports’ latest project will use big data and machine learning to not only track a player’s professional history but also to predict it.