SBJ/May 5-11, 2014/Finance

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  • Alchemy Global has new take on crowdfunding

    Crowdfunding in sports to date has largely been a feel-good enterprise, a way for a hopeful Olympian or a company that thinks its product could be “the next big thing” to raise some money and maybe draw some publicity in the process. Through solicitations on the Internet, the endeavors ask for money and offer little in return, at least commercially.

     

    Greg Norman (left) and Boris Becker are among big-name investors in the company, which launches this week.
    Photo by: GETTY IMAGES (2)

    But now, a group that includes Greg Norman and tennis players Jim Courier and Boris Becker want to expand that concept to financing sports startups in a more traditional manner of investment.

    Norman, Courier and Becker are investors in a firm called Alchemy Global. The company, which launches this week, is seeking wealthy investors to put money into sports startups. Similar to crowdfunding, it’s a broad effort, but unlike past crowdfunding pursuits, Alchemy’s plan calls for investors to get equity in the companies they are funding.
      

    Jim Courier is another investor in the firm.
    Photo by: GETTY IMAGES

    Alchemy will select potential investors based on the individuals’ income metrics. Targets include individuals with a net worth of $1 million and annual income of $200,000. The startups that are seeking the funding will then make the decision after Alchemy’s screening about which backers to engage.

    Traditional crowdfunding efforts for startups offer no equity, and anyone can contribute. In addition, the company or entity seeking the funding largely gets the capital and proceeds to act on its own. Alchemy is looking to tweak that.

    “The crowdfunding model out there is about raising capital, and the company moves on,” said Andy Brusman, CEO of Alchemy. “We are talking about a more hands-on approach, working with the companies on an ongoing basis to implement that growth.”

    Alchemy has three startups already lined up, including Storelli Sports, a maker of protective soccer gear. Also on board for the launch are Apera Bags and 110% Play Harder.

    Alchemy hopes to raises $4 million for Storelli and $10 million in total for the three companies.

    The total crowdfunding market, by comparison, is expected to hit $5 billion.

    Another unique feature of the Alchemy model is that it is not relying for its pursuits on any of the existing crowdfunding websites that host the solicitations for investors for many of these efforts. Instead, Alchemy will use its own website, alchemyglobal.com, as its portal.

    Alchemy’s president is Peter Ruppe, who led Nike’s basketball business for a decade and more recently has been working with Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll on the development of his WinForever coaching and motivational platform.

    Chris Flannery is the group’s operating partner, previously having been the president of Cal Ripken Baseball.

    As for the group’s three sports legend investors, Norman, in a statement said, “While the current universe of funding platforms focuses on raising capital, Alchemy takes a hands-on operational role, helping clients implement a growth strategy. In addition to this operational expertise, the network of the Alchemy family aligns clients with key relationships that impact every stage of the company’s lifecycle. It is as unique a business proposition as you will find in sports and entertainment today.”

    The specific financial commitments for Norman, Courier and Becker were not available.


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