Business

Sponsorfied rebrands as Partnered to connect brands with creative types

Above: Partnered's Baldwin Cunningham, Stuart Ross and Cullen Wilson

Image Credit: Sponsorfied

Major brands are increasingly looking for ways to appear innovative, form partnerships with entrepreneurs, and connect with other key people.

British Airways recently showed other brands how it’s done with its “hackathon in the sky,” a partnership-driven effort to steal Virgin’s crown as the hip upstart airline.

San Francisco-based Sponsorfied launched last year to foster relationships between companies, artists, and entrepreneurs. Today, the team announced that it’s rebranding itself as “Partnered,” and is undergoing a shift in direction to partnerships, not just sponsorship opportunities.

The team say the pivot is a result of experiences working with hundreds of brands, and lessons learned from the first product.

The company launched last year with the bold promise that “it would do for sponsorships what Google did for targeted ads.” But the team realized that the term “sponsorship” implies financial backing for an organization or individual, who don’t necessarily offer anything in return.

“These relationships are all about deeper collaborations and mutually beneficial agreements,” CEO Baldwin Cunningham told me. “We feel the definition of sponsorships is changing so broadening of our name was needed.”

The San Francisco-based company is also releasing new products for brands and agencies, known as “Direct” and “Manage.”

Direct is a curation service for brands to discover cool sponsorship or partnership opportunities; Cunningham describes it as “flash sales for brand sponsorship.” The Manage product is a customer relationship management (CRM) tool for marketing and events management folk, and is designed replace tiresome Excel spreadsheets and PDFs.

In the past, Sponsorfied has worked with brands like Samsung, who agreed to pay for prolific Instagrammer Ike Edeani (who boasts over 350,000 followers) to make a trip to the SXSW Interactive conference in Austin.

The Sponsorfied site will remain live for now, but will gradually be phased out as the company transitions to the new system.

Partnered is not the only startup in this space, but is one of the trendiest in the lot, and works with hot brands like Warby Parker and Pop Water. The new company competes with legacy players like Conxeo and Versaic.

The company has disclosed that it’s raised $170,000 on graduation from elite accelerator Y Combinator, and a further $100,000 from Funders Club. Investors include social media brand consultant Gary Vaynerchuk, angel investor, Mike Rothenberg, and Menlo Ventures’ Shervin Pishevar.


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