The National Football League players union announced it's forming a new venture group focused on sports-centric startups called The OneTeam Collective, according to Bloomberg. The catch? The group will use players’ public prowess as investment capital. And the Harvard Innovation Lab is in on the initiative.
The OneTeam Collective will share the image rights of football players in exchange for equity in startups operating in the sporting realm. Typically, a company has to dish out a significant sum of money to use NFL players' images in their websites, commercials and other promotional materials. The group's proposed arrangement would give startups a chance to use them without breaking the bank.
“The idea here is that younger companies would be able to tap into that same value without having to put up that same cash,” Ahmad Nassar, president of NFL Players Inc, told Bloomberg. The union’s licensing and marketing arm earns about $160 million annually, and it could choose to invest some of that money in the new companies as well, or make players available for product research, development or advice.
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The OneTeam Collective's founding partners include the Harvard iLab, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers LLC, Madrona Venture Group LLC, Intel Corp., LeadDog Marketing Group and Sports Innovation Lab. It will invest in ventures touching every aspect of the sports industry, ranging from data and performance analytics to fantasy sports and virtual reality games.
The first pitch competition for startups looking to get a piece of The OneTeam Collective will be in February in Houston.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story called NFLPA's new venture investing initiative a VC fund. It's not. There's no money involved.
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