ishveen anand open sponsorship work in sports podcast

Athletes, Brands and NIL with OpenSponsorship CEO Ishveen Anand

By Brian Clapp | August 04, 2021

In 2015 Ishveen Anand brought to market her dream of an open marketplace for brands and athletes to do business.

Brands have messages they want to get out in support of their products, athletes of all levels are great spokespeople – let's bring them together in a transparent and accessible way.

There is a lot that goes into taking an idea and making it a reality, a reality that businesses like Anheuser Busch, Groupon, The Vitamin Shoppe Draft Kings, Verizon and thousands more feel is reputable and credible enough to do business with.

The first 4-5 years were about growth and expansion, both of credibility and business opportunity. Then as the business matures, you get into a “what’s next” mentality. Do we need to cross into other verticals outside of sports, like entertainment? Is there new technology we need to develop? Do we need to change our staffing and our process?

Leading a business as the CEO requires a constant mindset of “where are we going, vs. where we have been. There is no such thing as comfortable. Challengers emerge, technology changes – it's all fluid.

In sports sponsorship, the biggest change of them all came in July. Names, Images and Likeness legislation.

Ishveen’s business OpenSponsorship, was dependent on a limited number of professional athletes able to leverage who they are to generate business for other brands.Now, enter in 460,000 new collegiate athletes able to do the same.

As of July 1st, college athletes can use their name, their image and their likeness to earn money! This opened up a huge opportunity for Ishveen and the great folks at OpenSponsorhip.

Amazingly, it isn’t just the big stars and the big brands who are making money. For example, Jackson State DE Antwan Owens struck a deal with 3 Kings Grooming! I hadn’t heard of either before I recorded this, but I love this, every bit of it.

I had Ishveen on the show two years ago. She is amazing, I learned so much then. Now we’re checking back in to learn more about what has happened in the NIL world over the first couple months of wild west action!

Questions for OpenSponsorship CEO Ishveen Anand

1: Give everyone an introduction to OpenSponsorship and what you and your team do in the sports industry.ishveen anand open sponsorship work in sports podcast

2: This is more than a simple marketplace with buyers and sellers it is much more than that -- you promote AI based matching and proprietary ROI tracking, covering over 160 sports, in 120 countries. Can you explain the AI based matching?

3: Let’s tie in Name, Image and Likeness to your company – OpenSponsorship has been connecting athletes and brands for years, you are the clear experts. Things changed due to NIL rules going into effect July 1st and now college athletes can be included in sponsorship deals. Just how much has this changed your business?

4: As we navigate NIL without federal legislation, we get a multitude of laws and regulations that differ from state to state. OpenSponsorship prides itself on transparency, what does that mean to you? Is that difficult to maintain in such a wildly changing market with massive outside influences?

5: Compliance is a big part of this – this isn’t the wild west, there are rules and student-athletes still need to be compliant. Is compliance and education of the athletes signed up on your marketplace something you as an organization need to own or is it enough to play matchmaker?

6: In the content world we often talk about collaborations – one part of this new world that has really intrigued me is some of the collaborations that have come out of this. I’ve had Neeta Sreekanth from INFLCR on the show, I’ve had Zach Maurides from TeamWorks on the show, I read where you are partnering with JMI Sports. Why are collaborations like this part of your overall business strategy, and how did they come about?

7: I read that Alabama QB Bryce Young, a sophomore who hasn’t even been named the starter yet is already approaching $1 million in deals. When you hear news like that, what emotion do you have? Is that exciting? Surprising? Concerning at all?

8: Open Sponsorship isn’t the only marketplace out there for athletes and brands. How do you continue to stand out and build toward the future?

9: Let’s dive into the real value prop of your organization – matching athletes and brands for mutually beneficial sponsorship deals. What makes a good partnership?

10: As we look through the lens of NIL there are 460,000 NCAA student athletes, way more than pro sports. Clearly there is a bigger pool of potential business – but are there really deals out there for everyone, or are we going to see this settle down some and in 2-3 years be looking at deals for just the big names? What is the true potential of this market?

11: With this many deals and connections made – does OpenSponsorship stop at sports – or is there multiple other sponsorship markets you could penetrate?

12: You started Open Sponsorship in January 2015 --- as you look back on this journey as an entrepreneur, what are your biggest takeaways?

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