The Lucky Titan

Growing a sports marketing business in the technology world With Ishveen Anand

January 07, 2021
The Lucky Titan
Growing a sports marketing business in the technology world With Ishveen Anand
The Lucky Titan
Growing a sports marketing business in the technology world With Ishveen Anand
Jan 07, 2021

Ishveen Anand is the Founder + CEO of award-winning marketplace OpenSponsorship, a VC backed startup connecting brands to pro athletes, teams and events. Ishveen, a graduate of Oxford University, was named on Inc's Top 100 Female Founders list in 2019 and on the Forbes 30under30 sports list. She is an expert on sports sponsorship thanks to being a former sports agent and now having grown OpenSponsorship into the largest and smartest platform globally matching brands to athletes and fitness influencers. Brands who have used OpenSponsorship to find athletes include Anheuser Busch, Verizon and Draftkings; athletes include Draymond Green, Rob Gronkowski and Todd Gurley.


Show Notes Transcript

Ishveen Anand is the Founder + CEO of award-winning marketplace OpenSponsorship, a VC backed startup connecting brands to pro athletes, teams and events. Ishveen, a graduate of Oxford University, was named on Inc's Top 100 Female Founders list in 2019 and on the Forbes 30under30 sports list. She is an expert on sports sponsorship thanks to being a former sports agent and now having grown OpenSponsorship into the largest and smartest platform globally matching brands to athletes and fitness influencers. Brands who have used OpenSponsorship to find athletes include Anheuser Busch, Verizon and Draftkings; athletes include Draymond Green, Rob Gronkowski and Todd Gurley.


Josh: What is up everybody! Josh Tapp here again and welcome back to the Lucky Titan Podcast and today we are where with  Ishveen Anand who is the founder of, I am extremely excited for this interview because Ishveen really has a unique business model and we we’re just talking about this because before the interview I mean they basically taken and what’s traditionally like a traditional non digital business and digitized it made it to really big thriving brand so with you are unfamiliar with open sponsorship really what they are doing is they are matching brand and agencies with professional athletes I mean I am just looking at their side and we’re seeing people like LeBron James on their right so these guys really know what they are doing when it comes to brand marketing and influencer marketing, so today we’re going to be talking about that in context with the digital sector so Ishveen let’s say what’s up to everybody and we’ll move on to the interview (00:56)

Ishveen: Hi Guys what’s up! (00:58)

Josh: Well Ishveen so, my question for you is why sports sponsorships, I mean influencer sponsorship in general is one that I have just a huge argument right now if it’s even works or if it’s just total vanity metrics buy how have you seen like can ROI happening for people in this sports industry (1:18)

Ishveen: Yea so I suppose we have to take a step back, so why sports, why sponsorships based on why sports or why sports, what the hell I am doing here so I grew up playing like sports for my life essentially as student athlete, I study Oxford and I am a student athlete there and you know like many people can like win in to it a normal career path, I was a management consultant and realize my dreams turns out sports and  actually fell into sponsorship but once I did, I just did a wonderful form of marketing you know I am sure, we’ve all been watching a sports game and you see like a brand association or ads and you’re just like how cool, even how crust but it noticeable  and so I just don’t like how amazing that you could buy a way to the field of play or just leverage a thing that everyone loves and on the flip side like if athlete teams events like sponsorship is there really important source of revenue so that’s really important to make like get all is in you know fast forward I just told the whole process to finding sponsor like doing those deals just really okay and hence I started a company, on the influence,  what’s actually interesting is, we did discuss this but for the first , I’d say let say five years but for the first year anyone that said about influencer marketing to me I was like absolutely not this sponsorship we’ve been around decades like Michael Jordan is not an influencer he’s an athlete you know like I was really anti like the influencer marketing I like it everything in Man and then what I realize is well okay A this is bet of inevitability and you know as any good founder should, you should done what  was the  consequences and I am being like okay what is interesting about the influences bases the reason why important is marketing is because of digital and let’s say that’s what sports really liking you know even when I started the company I was thinking we’re going to do like local catches the golfers and I mean through website but still like old school there says and then when I start looking into I was like actually the social thing is interesting it’s very accessible, you know the idea that an athlete could come on your podcast and it shouldn’t be a 1 year deal with the exclusivity that’s going to cost you 6 figures, it should be, it should be what it is, it should cost you a couple of hundred or a couple of thousand dollars and one of you know right to you whatever and so what I really embracing from the influence world was a part like was deals could be short as sweeter more tactical, more relevant, it’s still stick to the part like sponsorship and athletes and not through they not just influential but there’s more to them, there’s no argument we can have. (4:10)

Josh: yea and I would actually completely agree with you because I am actually in that boat like influencer marketing can be very vanity metrics right it’s a lot of oh they have a million followers right, we’ve really worked with companies or influencers who have a million followers and they can’t make a single sale and it’s like I mean they can just be a vanity metric but I think I would agree with you an athlete is a type of person but they also have nation and international coverage of them that they are not even providing right, let alone the fact that they have their own social media channel or what have you so, I love that so when you know get into sports sponsorships what’s really I mean the big difference than with giving a sponsorship versus doing an influencer campaign? (4:58)

Ishveen: you know I’d say, I would still say that the same learning to influence in marketing but more say to athletes I’d say the idea of sponsorship is that I am going to pay you either in product or in money or you know in services and I am going to get from you assets that I am going to use and so influence, you know  there’s a big thing in sponsorship well like if you spend tax on the sponsorship, should spend about 2x on activating that sponsorship that’s how we thinking like you know the traditional like stadium world and I would say like the same comes to sponsorship and it is not about spending but the whole point being is let’s say Josh, let’s say you use us to get and athlete to come on your podcast, so you do your usual thing like maybe they would give you shout out and say Hey I am going to be treating way you know the same way that I would do for you but now what more can you do with the fact that it is not athelet not with the influencer find them million followers might not know them but the chances are if you don’t follow them you actually no idea who they are well then an athlete like just being able to say like hey I have an Olympian coming on next week to get the name or these are lesson I’ve got all whatever and so I think like the whole idea of the amplification around because these more to the athlete and just to the following guest that I would say most important (6:39)

Josh: yea I love that, great explanation so one of my next question for you and come on to bring this back to layman’s term right so you’ve never done an influencer campaign or sponsored anybody what does an influencer campaign or sport sponsorship actually looks like, you know if I am an agent and who says hey I want to partner and agency that wants to partner with LeBron James what does it looks like. (7:00)

Ishveen: yea so essential what we say this deliverables right with the deal so one side you’ve got what you are offering and the other side what do you getting and then the third is the terms and conditions so obviously what do you offering we can discuss that cash, product or loyalty, equity that kind of 4 things that you could offer cash as king, product net loyalty equity  depend on who you are then the second with the, what am I getting from you so we’ll talk about social right so even within that like in feed versus story and I think what comes a lot of  people like it so complicated to think that they’re like, should I do Instagram, should I do twitter, should I  do YouTube show, should I do TikTok, should I get a video or an image, what I would say on the social piece very quickly is do works for you as a company they give you as a company to you’ve taught of like a video of  which josh I can imagine you’ve only use a video and you talking then suddenly you got and image of someone even if they are super famous like your audience doesn’t responds to that and so like do all works that you don’t worry about them like if YouTube is your channel find someone who’s decent on YouTube don’t you just go for them because they big on Instagram because that’s not like your customers learns that  not way your eco system leads so that’s quickly on social other things appearances so social is probably 70% of deals have 90% of our deals have social component, 70% only have social so that’s how big it is today even for us the other 30% I would say they make up appearances which today virtual or in person now appearances could be you I know that we have a lot of local businesses listening to this and maybe they do radio ads because they’re expensive, imagine getting like a local and fell player to do the voice over for your radio ads you know like hey I am, you know Terelle a bit more expensive like you should definitely use local x to this for me and why not kind of quick description so appearances can be like voice savers, they can be appearances, they could be custom and greet they could even be like sales get together so we’ve actually pitch these people where you know let say you’re product and you have a meeting with Walmart do you think it would be helpful to maybe have an athlete attend that meeting like maybe, like could you find someone who’s local to you know in the market so appearances third is like local placement on golf like caps and shirts a little Nabisco a little bit I’d say both deliverable that’s kind of comes free with any of them is like testimonial and feedback so super big right like even the idea that you could get them to give you quote that you put on your website even saying like hey go to amazon and do it all you know we worked people who publish books and you know you could give the athlete like a coupon code to buy the book and then afterwards they verify to buy and write a review so like testimonials feedback and I think that’s it, I am not going to say other things buy those are the main ones (10:15) 

Josh: that should give you an enough to actually launch it  (10:18)

Ishveen: Exactly (10:20) 

Josh: Perfect, I love it yea, well and so if you we’re let’s kind of put it into a scenario here let’s say you are a digital marketing agency and you are looking to a branch into let just say Facebook ads for real estate agents would this be something that would benefit them and how would you structure campaign for them (10:40)

Isheen: Yea so we love working with agencies and the main reason why is because a lot of times like the agency really understands like what is success and the only job is to deliver and I think that is number one starting points for successful campaign because then you can ask for the right things so definitely love working with the agencies  so let’s say the real estate ones you obviously right focus on the local market so I would say athletes are great for that and I always use this as an example where I say like anyone who’s famous if they are famous enough apart from athlete they moved to New York currently like hands down like why would they live anywhere out where as athletes when they are active they have to live whether you know their team mates and they we’re a lot of times you know they not use the big lights of New Your and LA so they say in Buffalo or Pittsburgh or Ohio or where any else and I say I love Athletes local – so let’s say digital agency doing Facebook so I think the most interesting thing is probably not the followers of the athlete that kind be interesting and we have amazing data on which athletes have got following by state, by gender, by location so like definitely anyone who’s interested check it out it is all free on that platform but what I would say is think what most interesting is the content that you can get and I think content from athletes, well influencers in generally is probably the most underrated thing because we tend to think of content as being free like oh I have an intern and they’ll star image and you know we’ll use it but good content cost money and so I would say like having an athlete you know even now that the thing is you want it to be authentic right which is, first time events in the world but it is something I would think is really important so you know how do you find an authentic way to incorporate the athlete into the ads and so you know if the budget is big enough  I would probably trying to do like bit of a photoshoot with the athlete right or maybe walking through the streets of the neighborhood being you know having all even what could be really cool is now again like let’s go back to what you are trying to show if the  real estate company that you are trying to show is I am super reputable, knowledgeable, then maybe you want to record Q&A with the athlete with they could ask question like hey I am gonna buy house like what would you suggest that you could  show off knowledge if what you want to show is elitism like this person  has like a best like the shiniest houses in the market then maybe you have an athlete doing something  like an MTV crib session right to give this illusion like hey, you can get a house like this with this agent so I think what you want to look, like the vibe of the content and then figure out how do I insert the athlete into that as well (13:34)

Josh: yes, absolutely, I love that and I mean really if you are thinking about this you know using the strategy in your company there’s like you said, there’s really an unlimited amount of campaigns or different options of campaign that you could run and at the same way with influencers right but what I love about is what you are saying is you don’t always have to rely on the fact that they have a following on social media right it can just be the fact that they have a reputable name right that is really cool about athletes I’ve never really thought about that personally so love that (14:09)

Ishveen: actually I’d actually say sometimes you’ll be notice this now when you are thinking through magazine you’ll often see that they’ll have like a celebrity and in the bottom they’ll actually write down like  Emmy award winning and put the name, all like PGA golfer put their name and I think it’s not even a name, it is the fact like you can associate yourself like,  yourself with an MBA or whichever league maybe and I think that’s what’s really powerful if it’s like an influencer like not influencer but what are you going to say like  has a million followers like that, I mean yea exactly I and you can and they’re a lot like beauty influencer x but how much cool it is to say like Olympian or you know USA whatever as well (14:57)

Josh: yes love that, that is cool well you know, we already tearing time here so I want to ask you a question about where would you recommend people should start if thet want to come in to into this sports sponsorship world (15:12)

Ishveen: yea, that’s a good question, you people do think sometimes like think like we all stop really small and if really works scale up and that does work like plat forms like Facebook and Google but it’s tough in our world because there was evitable like what you pay for is what you get and so I would say if all you want is the ability to get someone to promote you,  you can do that I mean on our side you can do free product like you know if you are a service company like hey I am looking for athlete who you know want to get that tax returns down for free I can do that for you right  or but the quality of athlete should going to get who going to for free is you know limited let’s say less than 20,000 followers so what I would say is scale up pretty effectively well you know 500$ will get you something get you up to a hundred thousand no sorry like 50,000 you know 5000$ will get you something into like 300,000$ range sorry 300,000 follower range so what I would say is if you can master up the courage to spend like you know 3 and 1 half, 5k, and get you someone  very decent and I think you’ll see a bad return then starting with a hundred dollars and using that 0 bases as a test (16:41)

Josh: love that and I would agree to that because the problem that you, the most people have when they really try to market business in general is like how can I do this for free right. What’s the cheapest way that I can do this but I mean you are going to put this into same amount of work for getting 500,000 as you are, million people so what you are talking about is say being willing to spend that amount of money you know 3,000$-5,000$  is kind of a joke when it comes to marketing  it is very well amount, spent 3-5 thousand dollars for chance to be in front of you know hundreds of thousands & millions of people and have a great name to leverage so I love that (17:16)

Ishveen: and I think the other reason for that is because like going back to the point of what I said like important in different about sponsorship is a let say you work with an athlete and then, they we’re decent name, you can probably put out press release or get someone like a local which is a very cool campaign with New York Government round like emergency management and they deliverable including PR so that fact that local reporters could speak to these baseball player like opportunities  and so you know do you have friends who are like local reporters or you know messaging you and say hey Josh I’ve got these athlete, I’ve got this deliverable form to come on the podcast if I bring in into your podcast you give me a shout out so I think when you use a bigger name you can leverage that name just that little more and whether it’s PR or more email clicks or in you website is more impressive so you know you do get the return for it. (18:15)

Josh: absolutely, I love that well you know I have one final question about this sponsorship realm to and this is something which talk about before the interview I mean there’s not really an average of what you are going to make for a campaign right there’s no guarantee for what’s is you’re going to make for sponsor campaign but what’s some of the metrics that you measure and that you track to let’s just say hey this campaign was actually successful (18:42)

Ishveen: yea it is a great question , I’d say obviously engagement seems to be very popular one and something that we share right so likes, comments, share on Instagram which is primarily channel if it’s story insights clicks things like that we do have partnerships like affiliate sites so some people will get like a tracking link you know feedback to actual sales, I’d say I encourage the idea like they did you just like good content that you can repurpose and then we have some qualities thing like the athlete is giving you a 5 star review because that means like you know this is potentially a customer for you and a pretty powerful customer so have you just reach like introduce your brand to someone who’s going to talk about you so I think there’s a lot of different things that you can measure but obviously the one obviously ones is like social media engagement (19:34)

Josh: love that well and I would hope that everybody listening to this is been taking notes because this type of marketing is one that kind of intimidates a lot of people but you just simplify it to the point that you could do this even if you have no money to do it right start leveraging other people’s like right the OPP or the OPM right. So, Ishveen I want to ask you one final question, first of where people connect with you (20:01)

Ishveen: yea I check is out and for you Josh they can all drop me an email 

Josh: love that, thank you so much very few people actually offer their personal informations so make sure you go check that out I’ll be linking all of that in the description of the show as well and Ishveen I want to ask you if you could have one final parting piece of guidance for our audience and say hey this is if you could leave one thing about this interview what would have that would be (20:31)

Ishveen: that’s a great one I think spending on marketing is really important. Brand building awareness even say marketing and say brand building differentiation I mean we all have competition and we all have to differentiate from competition and I personally do thing like athlete sport sponsorship I mean mostly talk about athlete but you know thing advancing into like team in events or like other types of sponsorships I think it gives great way to have someone else all your praises like it’s the best you know that I would say like if you work with us great but if not really do think about like what are your own differentiating  factors  and how you can make sure they come across so you are not just like looking at other people and do the same way they are doing (21:23)