By John Ingoldsby, Player Engagement Insider
The bond between college roommates can last for a lifetime, particularly when a business idea beckons. Such is the story of former NFL player Akwasi Owusu-Ansah.
“My roommate at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) was an artist, and he found it hard to engage outlets where he could display his work,” recalled the 2010 Dallas Cowboys draftee, who also spent time with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders and Detroit Lions.
“Being an avid photographer myself, I started wondering what avenues are out there to get artwork discovered?” he said. “When I couldn’t find anything that focused on original artists, I set out to create a platform where both artists and art lovers could go to find each other.”
That quest will become reality this summer when Owusu-Ansah launches www.LiveAbstract.com to fill that void. An impressive undertaking anytime, but especially when you consider that he is currently in his second year as a cornerback with the Toronto Argonauts in the Canadian Football League, and yet found time in his busy schedule to call in during a break in practice.
“It has been a long process, but my vision is to make LiveAbstract.com an e-commerce site where anyone can go to check out original artists and buy paintings and pictures,” he said. “I see it as a people’s art gallery where the public and artists could find each other for specific jobs that may be a match.”
But that’s not all.
“We are already taking subscriptions on our placeholder site as we build our contact list, and we will also be adding a list of art events and related activities so everyone will know when and where these in-person happenings are taking place, which will create networking opportunities as well,” said Owusu-Ansah, who is receiving additional assistance from his aforementioned former roommate in promoting the site on social media and the like.
That and other IUP connections still resonate with the Columbus, Ohio high school star, who, after receiving no Division I scholarship offers, sent out a highlight reel and got invited to a camp, which led to him meeting a coach who was then hired as head coach at IUP, and the rest is history. A story with mutual benefits relationship that impressively resulted in the Division II All-American being drafted by the Cowboys to begin his four-season NFL career.
After that, he had a year off before getting a call from the Argonauts asking if he had ever thought about playing football in Canada, which led to him leading the team in interceptions last year, and his return for this season.
“It’s fun to be playing football again, and my art endeavor enhances that because it enables me to better think outside the box by giving me an appreciation of other people’s non-football work, which helps me both on and off the field,” he said.