OpenSponsorship secures new capital to unite brands and athletes

Ishveen Anand grew up in England playing sports all his life, including during his time in Oxford. She wanted to do something athletic for a career and “fell in love” with sponsorship marketing.

However, what she found was that the process was inefficient – the sports world was moving slowly in terms of contracts with athletes. She thought that with the rise of influencers there should be something like an “Airbnb meets LinkedIn” for the industry, Anand told TechCrunch.

Combining her two passions, in 2016, she launched OpenSponsorship, a sports sponsorship company, with Ron Nesbitt, and today announced a funding round of $ 4 million.


OpenSponsorship offers page

The round is led by Philadelphia 76ers owner David Blitzer, who is joined by Eric Stern and executives from WWE and Excel Sports Management. Other notable investors include Jeffrey Talpins, Alex Jung with Isos Capital, NHL player Alex Killorn and Nike manager Shaherose Charania.

The new funding will be used to continue to develop the product and integrations. Anand plans to expand into new verticals, sales and marketing.

OpenSponsorship has 15 employees and aims to achieve $ 5 million in revenue and $ 1.5 million in net revenue this year, and has facilitated more than 10,000 transactions across 400 brands.

Brands create an account on OpenSponsorship by choosing a subscription plan. Then they can search through athletes, teams, and events, including filtering out those that match a need, like social media, logo placement, or appearances. Then the user will create a campaign and choose an athlete or let OpenSponsorship do the work. From there, the brand can launch and measure the success of the campaign.

“Sponsorship is a $ 60 billion industry, and we are redefining what sponsorship means,” Anand said. “It can be digital, reuse content and photo shoots. We want to make sponsorship cool and accessible.

Prior to this latest funding, the company raised a $ 1.3 million pre-seed round from investors that included 500 startups after being in their program in 2016. Since then, the company boasts the largest market in ‘athletes, over 11,000, and works with companies like Walmart, Foot Locker and Levi’s.

Anand finds that local advertising benefits from sports sponsorships as athletes often stay in their hometowns. And with influencer marketing skewing women, some of her clients find athletes helping them reach male audiences.

The additional funding will allow the company to test new verticals, such as music, which it believes has similar supply and demand.

“People want flexibility, but traditional sponsorship didn’t always allow it,” she added. “Instead, the brands were locked into multi-year contracts with an athlete. We’ve come a long way, and if you have a budget of $ 100,000, now you can spread it over 10 athletes and have variety in the industry.

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