The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) is starting a venture capital group and business accelerator. But what has most people talking about the OneTeam Collective is that its proposed investment capital isn’t cash — it’s cachet. The collective cachet of athletes to be precise.
The group has already reportedly received millions in capital from investors Madrona Venture Group LLC and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers LLC. Intel Corp., the Harvard Innovation Lab, LeadDog Marketing Group and Sports Innovation Lab are also named as founding partners.
The OneTeam Collective plans to trade the marketing rights to football players’ images and other sports-related intellectual property in exchange for equity in sports technology and media startups.
Ahmad Nassar, president of NFL Players Inc., was quoted as saying: “The idea here is that younger companies would be able to tap into that same value without having to put up that same cash.” The NFL players union’s licensing and marketing arm reportedly takes in about $160 million annually.
The OneTeam Collective is reportedly open to engaging with businesses at any growth stage as long as they focus on fan engagement, data analytics, mobile fitness, sports nutrition, fantasy sports, gaming or VR. The NFLPA holds exclusive group licensing rights for more than 2,000 current NFL players.
Applications are currently open for startup enrollment. In addition to marketing rights and investment funding, startup companies will also receive business mentoring from “world-class investors, universities, Fortune 500 companies, sports industry executives and athletes” when they join up, according to details written on the OneTeam website.
Mark Herzlich of the New York Giants, Russell Okung of the Denver Broncos, as well as former NFL players Dhani Jones and Isaiah Kacyvenski, were all listed as part of OneTeam Collective’s advisory board. The collective is set to host its first Pitch Day in Houston, Texas, this coming February.