SBJ/October 9-15, 2017/Labor and Agents

Firm’s digital division offers social media posts from athletes

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ike a Pro, an athlete equipment and memorabilia company, has launched a digital division so that fans may buy social media posts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter by the company’s more than 200 clients.

Fans can buy a post from an athlete on one of the social media platforms for $50.

“We put an initial price on all the posts at $50,” said Jonathan Ressler, Like a Pro president. Prices may increase based on market demand.

The social media posts are the latest business line for Like a Pro, launched in July 2016 by entrepreneurs Scott Schaible and Bill Sedgwick. The Denver-based company has 11 employees.

For the last year, the company’s main line of business has been selling shoes, apparel and equipment that professional athletes, in a variety of sports, wear and use themselves. The company has a partnership with Amazon that helps to provide access to the items.

The idea to branch out into social media posts was Ressler’s, Schaible said. “Autographed photos or trading cards are still cool, but in terms of today’s social currency, a custom birthday or anniversary message from a favorite athlete is really compelling,” Schaible said. “We teased out the opportunity onto a few profiles on Like A Pro and received a number of inquiries, so it is time to open it up.”

More than 230 athletes have profiles on Like a Pro, including New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Kesler, Oklahoma City Thunder guard Terrance Ferguson and Miami Marlins pitcher Dan Straily, as well as retired athletes including Pete Rose and Phil Simms.

Athletes have an equity stake in Like a Pro and the company splits the profits with them 50-50, Ressler said. He didn’t provide details on the size of the stakes.

If a fan sends in a request for a social media post, the athlete can accept or reject it. The athlete can also change the post to put it in his or her voice, which the fan has the choice of approving, Ressler said.

Kelsey Cline is director of athlete relations for Like a Pro. “My whole role is to be air traffic control for our athletes, so I am speaking to them every day,” she said.

Cline said her guess is “about 50 percent” of the athletes will want to post initially. “Some of them are all about fan engagement,” she said.

Cline said she thinks the most popular posts will be birthday wishes, followed by athletes congratulating fans on their athletic achievements, such as making their school team’s roster. Cline will work with the athlete’s agent, public relations or social media representative to make sure the tweets or posts are true to the athlete’s voice.

“The posts will not be marked as an ad, as they are not advertising anything,” Ressler said. “They are not talking about a brand where we might need to do that. These posts are completely customized for the individual, so they are not an ad in any way.”

Both Cline and Ressler acknowledge that it may take a lot of time and work for a relatively small payoff — $50 to start — but say the business has the potential to grow and be a profit center.

Addressing the private company’s overall financials, “I would say we are earning money,” Ressler said. “We are not profitable yet, but we are getting close.”

Bruce Bowen is now with ICM Partners.
Photo by: ESPN IMAGES
ICM SIGNS BOWEN, DOES CLIPPERS DEAL: ICM Partners has signed former NBA player turned broadcaster Bruce Bowen and negotiated his deal to become the new color analyst for the Los Angeles Clippers.

ICM Partners head of broadcasting Lou Oppenheim is representing Bowen, who was formerly represented by CSE Talent.

> WASSERMAN SIGNS TEHERÁN: Wasserman has signed Atlanta Braves right-handed starting pitcher Julio Teherán for representation.

Adam Katz and Andy Mota are representing him. Teherán was represented by ISE Baseball.

Liz Mullen can be reached at lmullen@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter @SBJLizMullen.


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