SBJ/September 5-11, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

His vision of eyeblack company is paying off

Professional baseball and college football games are Peter Beveridge’s best marketing tools.

Those dark smudges under the eyes of many players chasing down a fly ball or reeling in a pass are likely to be Beveridge’s product. Gone are the days of athletes smearing grease under their eyes to block out the sun’s glare. Today, the rage is strips of plastic often adorned with team logos.

The CEO of Potomac, Md.-based Eyeblack.com started his company with two employees in 2003. Today, he has 17 staffers, thanks to lucrative licensing agreements with 400 colleges and Major League Baseball.

Eyeblack.com’s revenue is increasing by 35 percent annually, Beveridge said. In 2010, the company sold more than 5 million pairs of eyeblack. A pair of collegiate eyeblack sells for $2.56.

Recently, Eyeblack.com signed pro tennis player Bethanie Mattek-Sands and two NFL players to endorse its products. Beveridge spoke to correspondent Jimmy DeButts about how his unconventional business took off.


NICHOLAS GRINER / BALTIMORE BUSINESS JOURNAL
Peter Beveridge’s Eyeblack.com has a licensing agreement with Major League Baseball.
What does it mean to be a Major League Baseball licensee?


BEVERIDGE: It immediately tells everybody in the industry you’re a real player. We liked getting involved with Major League Baseball because it recognized there are a lot of youngsters in high school and below who play all year round. But there was never a product for them to wear on the field and to continue to brand Major League Baseball.

How did you decide on eyeblack as a business?

BEVERIDGE: The first thing I thought was wouldn’t that be valuable space to put a logo. My company exclusively licenses these for the USA and Europe. It seemed to make sense at the time. We created a market for a brand-new product.

What’s next for Eyeblack.com?

BEVERIDGE:
We’re working with Marshawn Lynch of the Seattle Seahawks and Stevie Johnson of the Buffalo Bills. We can build an eyeblack around their uniqueness. About 70 percent of NFL teams use our products. Now we want to build a line of products that they can get on board with.

Do you participate in any sports that require eyeblack?

BEVERIDGE: I don’t. I play basketball a lot. I wear eyeblack when I play basketball because it’s important for me to test out the product. I want to make sure it won’t be sweat through and it stays on.

Was there a learning curve about your product’s benefits?

Beveridge: We tested the product at Virginia Tech, the University of Florida, the University of Miami and the University of Maryland. The athletes loved it. It was the best kind of feedback we could get. Players on the field were getting it; it was everybody else who needed to learn about the product. The way you make money is you have people on the field using it and people in the stands [buying] it.

Jimmy DeButts is associate editor of the Baltimore Business Journal, an affiliated publication.

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