Chicago-based agency 4Front plans an aggressive expansion strategy after an infusion of cash from international sports marketing giant Global Sports Commerce.
The funding deal calls for a “high seven figures” capital investment by GSC into 4Front, which was founded in 2007 by industry veterans Dan Migala and Josh Kritzler.
4Front, which has 41 employees, plans to use the capital to almost double the size of its staff as it looks to add overseas clients and potentially other U.S. offices. In addition to its Chicago headquarters, 4Front has offices in Charlotte, Dallas and Denver.
“We will take our domestic relationships and shepherd them overseas,” Kritzler said. “GSC has such a global footprint and we can now be a conduit to that.”
In return for its investment in 4Front, GSC will take a 50% stake in the company. 4Front will retain operating control and board control of the agency that offers sports consulting, digital, media, ticketing, analytics, innovation and activation expertise, and third-party property sales services. Key 4Front clients include the Chicago Bears, the Minnesota Twins, the Oklahoma City Thunder, Cricket Australia, Feld Entertainment, Hendrick Motorsports, Minor League Baseball and the UFC.
Now, with the infusion of capital, 4Front expects to add to its client base both domestically and overseas. It is nearing a deal with the Irish Rugby Football Union and Tennis Australia and its overseas push will be aided by Singapore-based GSC’s strong presence in Australia, China and India.
“We have access to bundle some of their products,” Migala said. “We will expand our analytical offerings. They have such great global access to data to mirror what we are doing domestically.”
In return, GSC gains a foothold into the U.S. market. GSC has 13 subsidiaries in 16 cities across 10 countries, but its only U.S. presence is a subsidiary office in Wilmington, Del.
“Our partnership with 4Front is all about people and business alignment,” said M S Muralidharan, GSC chief executive officer. “There was an immediate cultural fit with Dan, Josh and the 4Front team from the very first meeting and as we continued to meet, business opportunities manifested within our current and potential new business offerings.”
Some of GSC’s blue-chip global partners include the English Premier League, FIFA, UEFA, La Liga and myriad others through its various subsidiaries. GSC itself last year received $80 million in funding from the KKR investment firm.
The 4Front deal was a year in the making as discussions began last Memorial Day weekend. Migala and Kritzler then took trips to India, Australia and Dublin with the deal closing on May 10.
“We learned that the things they did really well were like puzzle pieces to the things we identified as growth areas for us,” Migala said, adding that access to GSC’s market data and other analytics will help 4Front maintain and attract new clients.