A new era of branding is upon us, and it is already bringing in big bucks for athletes across the South.
As of July 1 of this year, NCAA athletes can be compensated for their name, image, and likeness (NIL), something previously banned for amateur athletes.
This can look like monetizing a social media account, teaching lessons, signing autographs, or entering other marketing and endorsement deals.
Just weeks into the new rule change, Southeast football stars have already signed deals with TiVo, Kool-Aid, and PetSmart, with more deals on the horizon.
“College athletes and college sports fans have been calling for this for a long time. So it’s exciting to see this come into play,” said Conrad Cornell.
Cornell and his childhood friend Drew Williams have found themselves as co-founders of a platform built to meet this exact moment in collegiate athletics.
“A lot of the top tier college athletes will benefit greatly from [NIL changes], but the majority of them won’t notice much of a difference. So, we’re excited to be in a position to help the majority of college athletes,” Cornell added.
Press Sports, an Atlanta-grown startup, is a social media app designed specifically for athletes looking to connect and gain more exposure with coaches, scouts, and fans through self-promoted videos.
The team just announced it closed a $1.5 million seed round, which Cornell says “times up nicely” with the NIL rule change. “We had been growing really steadily when the news dropped that college athletes were allowed to be compensated for their image and likeness. And we are a platform where athletes from all levels and all sports can self-promote their highlights, and show the world what they’re capable of in a comfortable, positive community,” he told Hypepotamus.
A New Type of Team
Former athletes themselves, Cornell and Williams are now spending their time building up Press Sports’ technology and leadership team.
After closing a smaller seed round in November 2020, the team added YikYak’sTyler Droll and Tom Chernetsky to lead the startup’s Product and Technology. Branndon Stewart — former Texas A&M football star — has recently joined as COO.
Prior to closing its $1.5 million round, the team also launched an Android version of the app to be accessible to more athletes and integrated new video editing tools to improve overall quality.
This new round of funding, Cornell said, will continue to fuel growth.
General Catalyst, which led the funding round, has made major consumer-based names investments over the years, including in Airbnb, Classpass, Audius, and Snap.
Cornell says that General Catalyst will help “open doors” on the West Coast.
Atlanta-based firms and previous investors Overline and Sound Media Ventures also joined the round.
Cornell said they are focused on hiring within their technology team, which they are dedicated to building out in Atlanta.
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