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Sports sponsorship is big business, but it isn’t easy. OpenSponsorship wants to change that with a web-based platform that automates the matchmaking between brands, agents, teams, sports athletes, and esports athletes.
In essence, the startup makes it easier for brands to search through a database of athletes and find one with the right profile. New York-based OpenSponsorship provides that information at a glance, from the number of social media followers to the athlete’s favorite brands and their target audience.
If the brand owner likes a particular athlete, they can click on a button to communicate with that athlete’s agent. There are already more than 2,500 athletes, teams, and events in over 40 countries listed in the database, said Alexis Valerio, head of business development, in an interview with VentureBeat.
“We’re connecting brands to the talent,” Valerio said. “I used to have to do this manually, and it took so much time.”
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OpenSponsorship believes that sports sponsorships are one of the most underused social medial marketing tools. Catalyst Public Relations said in a study that sports fans who follow their favorite athletes on social media are 55 percent more likely to purchase a brand if an athlete mentions it on Facebook or Twitter.
Brands can post campaigns on the site, and athletes can bid to participate. Pert, the shampoo company, is willing to pay $5,000 for an athlete to use their shampoo and promote it. There are less expensive options, as well.
“Smaller companies think they don’t have enough of a budget, but they can use this to find out if that’s true,” Valerio said.
The company was founded by Ishveen Anand, CEO, and Nick van der Meulen, chief technology officer.
“It’s time that brands of all sizes and budgets start benefiting from partnering with sports the same way that the Fortune 500 have for years,” said Anand, in a statement. “With the launch of new sports like esports and opening up offices in new geographies, we want every brand, of any budget to enjoy working with an athlete with OpenSponsorship.”
Athletes or their agents can register a person or an entire team. OpenSponsorship vets the registrants. At a glance, you can see an athlete’s age, gender, popularity by country, followings on various social media, and fees for certain kinds of endorsements. It will show whether the athlete is married, has kids, drinks alcohol, engages in hobbies, or has certain interests or favorite charities.
OpenSponsorship is based in New York, and the development team is in London. The company has 10 employees, and it has raised $1.1 million in funding from RadiantVC, Rosecliff VC, GeltVC, 500 Startups, and a number of angels, including Peter Kellner, Steve Bennet, Kirat Anand, and Tanveer Ali.
OpenSponsorship handles the contracts, terms and conditions, and other paperwork. The talent isn’t paid until the deal is complete. The platform works well with sports athletes, and it is also getting exposure among esports athletes, or those who get paid to play competitive video games. You could see how it could also work with other kinds of influencers who are paid to market to specific audiences.
OpenSponsorship added Twitch to the media channels that it is tracking, so brands can now sponsor for product placement, social mentions, and branding.
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