About Icon Source
Icon Source is a Denver-based startup that is a one-stop-shop marketplace app for brands of all sizes to engage with and potentially market their products with athletes. The business created the app, which uses proprietary AI technology, to find athletes and brands that share similarities based on demographics and social media activity.
The app works in favor of athletes as well. Athletes can go on the company app and find big or small brands that they connect and would like to work with. In addition, the AI platform developed by the startup allows brands to create and manage campaigns, create content, negotiate contracts, connect with athletic agents, and more. In essence, the company is attempting to provide an AI platform that competes against traditional sports marketing campaigns from the usual brand giants.
The business states on its website that it does not directly represent athletes, but rather the AI platform allows sports agents to showcase their clients. Icon Source launched just last year in July 2020.
$1.6 Million Seed Funding
The startup announced it raised $1.6 million in seed funding. Hawke Ventures and other undisclosed existing and new investors also participated in this round of financing for the business.
Chase Garrett, founder and CEO of the company, said in a statement, “We were overwhelmed by the interest we received this round...Given the significant changes taking place this year with NIL [Name, Image, Likeness] laws, we made the decision to postpone our Series A round for another year and capped our funding. We’re incredibly confident with our platform and position as the leader in the athlete marketing industry and are excited to expand our capabilities into the college level.”
The changing NIL laws come after years of debate regarding whether or not college athletes should be compensated for universities profiting off of their name, image, and likeness. Starting July 1 of this year, college athletes at schools in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, and New Mexico, can begin accepting endorsement and sponsorship deals, according to an ESPN report. NIL laws in other states will go into effect over the next few years. Many other states currently have NIL bills in their legislature.
With the new capital, the business plans to grow its Icon Source team and increase the capabilities of its AI platform. Additionally, the athletic brands startup company is looking to prepare for possible college athlete deals taking place on the AI app later this year.
This funding announcement follows shortly after Icon Source launched its 50 for 50 initiative, where the startup company committed to waiving fees for the first 50 businesses that spend more than $10,000 on female athletes over the next year. This initiative from the business is aimed at highlighting the financial disparity between female vs. male athletes.
Statista estimates the sports marketing industry was valued at roughly $71.1 billion in 2018 and is projected to reach $83.1 billion by 2023.
About the Author
McKenzie Carpenter is a graduate of Central Michigan University with a B.A.A. in Integrative Public Relations and French. McKenzie has previously worked for small businesses and nonprofit organizations.