30 Nov

The Athlete As Investor Pool Keeps Getting Deeper

The Athlete As Investor Pool Keeps Getting Deeper

by Tanner Simkins @TannerSimkins

From gaming to media companies, the idea of the athlete as an engaged investor continues to grow. Today, whether you are Spencer Dinwiddie of the Brooklyn Nets, who actually owns, designs and wears his own created shoes, or LeBron James, whose interests run from media to wine or Martellus Bennett, who is focused on education and children, or even Kevin Love or Michael Phelps whose interests are about mental health, the ability for an athlete to authentically engage, create and help drive a business, if he or she has the time, interest and wherewithal, has never been greater.

Why? One big reason is taking advantage of the marketplace and building brand through effective social outreach. “We as athletes have the ability to connect with fans and the investment community directly now,” veteran lacrosse player turned entrepreneur Paul Rabil said at this week’s Sports Business Journal Dealmakers Conference. “There is no barrier to entry, and if you are committed, the ability to build your personal brand has never been higher.”

Another example this week was current Redskins quarterback Mark Sanchez, who was part of the funding round for a growing apparel company based in Los Angeles, Swet Tailor. The company goes by the mantra of EveryDay. EveryWear,™  and announced today the closing of a first round of seed funding of $1.5M designed to further expand the company’s marketing and brand awareness.   In addition to Burch Creative Capital, and Dr. Katie Rodan, Co-Founder Rodan + Fields and Proactiv Solution  and Amnon Rodan, Chairman Rodan + Fields, was Sanchez, who came across the brand through some NFL friends while playing for the Eagles (one of the co-founders, Adam Bolden, is a Philly guy and lifelong Eagles fan), and decided after wearing the clothes, he needed to put his money up to help the company grow.

“I believe that Swet Tailor is a brand that can address a wide variety of unique opportunities in today’s world of men’s fashion,” Sanchez said in the release on Wednesday. “As a professional athlete I have seen men’s fashion trends come and go, and realize that no matter who you are, you want to look good and feel comfortable. The timeless style and unrivaled comfort make Swet Tailor an attractive brand. I am always looking for great investment opportunities with companies I can relate to, and this was literally a great fit.”

The move is not dissimilar from the role former NBA star Shane Battier played with Rhone Apparel when that company launched. He tried the clothes, liked the look and decided that’s where he wanted to spend his dollars, not just as an ambassador but as a vested partner with a bigger upside.

That is really the difference with many athlete turned investors today. They are not just throwing money up and hoping for a return. They are spending and looking and helping to grow companies they are interested in and have a passion for. Now it’s certainly not for everyone, and there are many who still look for the quick dollar first, but today’s athlete seems to be more savvy, more engaged, and more focused on brand build than ever before, be it clothing or tech.

It is certainly a trend we are following closely, and one we think isn’t going away soon.