New VC Group Uses NFL Fame as Investment Capital

Did the NFL just score another touchdown? It may sound like a Hail Mary, but the sports giant seems to have figured out how to launch a venture group by using fame as investment capital.

Writes Bloomberg: “The National Football League players union is starting a venture group, using athletes’ collective cachet, not cash, as investment capital alongside millions from established investors including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers LLC and Madrona Venture Group LLC.”

“The OneTeam Collective, as the group is called, is designed to trade the rights to football players’ images for equity in sports-oriented startups. It’s a unique proposition. Other tech investors in the pro sports world, including Kobe Bryant, the L.A. Dodgers and the Philadelphia 76ers, put up seed capital but not intangible assets like marketing rights.”

Interestingly, not only does OneTeam Collective have an Executive Board led by other investors, but it also maintains an Athlete Advisory Board comprised of current and former players. Indeed, the application for companies seeking investment is already open.

What types of companies should consider working with the group? OneTeam writes: “The OneTeam Collective is seeking companies at all stages of growth across a spectrum of categories, and will consider any company that delivers on the mission of improving the lives of professional athletes, their fans and athletes everywhere.”

“Areas of interest include new business ventures and product ideas related to fan engagement, data analytics, performance and training, mobile fitness, sports nutrition, consumer products, fantasy sports, gaming, wearable technology, new media, virtual reality and augmented reality. Each applying company will be evaluated individually for potential fit, regardless of industry.”

Indeed, SuperData recently valued “the total eSports revenue at $892.8M in 2016E,” noting that “year-over-year revenue growth is largely a result of more brands and advertisers entering the market.”

Of course, the idea of specialized venture groups is not exactly new. Just this week TechCrunch reports that Tyson Foods Inc.”announced the formation of a $150 million venture capital fund to back food and agriculture startups.”

The post continues: “According to Tyson’s Executive Vice President of Strategy and New Ventures, Monica McGurk, the fund will seek to invest in startups solving problems around food production, distribution, nutrition, food waste and safety.”