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opendorse announces close of Series A funding

Blake Lawrence, CEO of opendorse

Lincoln startup opendorse, a leading athlete marketing platform that helps athletes share content on social media, announced yesterday its close of $3.5mm in a Series A financing round.

The investment will support the company’s commitment to helping athletes maximize the value of their social audience. More than 2,400 athletes use opendorse to provide 1,500 brands with access to their 800 million followers on social media platforms.

“We have a clear, unique, and disruptive path to success for thousands of athletes and hundreds of brands to easily engage sports fans in the social space, and we welcome our new investors who support our mission and share our vision,” said Blake Lawrence, CEO of opendorse. “We know that athletes have incredible power and we’re proud to have built the infrastructure to help foster their impact on social media.”

The latest round is a co-investment led by Serra Ventures with participation from an existing investor, Flyover Capital. A group of former University of Nebraska football stars led by Chicago Bears cornerback Prince Amukamara contributed more than one-third of the investment. Sean Bratches, Managing Director, Commercial Operations of Formula 1, Dan Mannix, President & CEO of LeadDog Marketing Group, and Peter Gardiner, former Chief Media Officer of Deutsch and current CEO of Gardiner & Partners, also participated in the round.

“I’m proud to invest in a company built by my former teammates that understands the challenges and opportunities of athletes like me and keeps the business focused on athletes first,” Amukamara said. “I believed in opendorse when Blake and Adi pitched me my first social media deal in 2012, and I believe in the company’s direction today more than ever. opendorse is like a personal assistant in my pocket, helping me build my social brand while I’m focused on the field.”

With its extensive user base of athletes and cutting-edge technology, opendorse provides brands with a platform to send branded content to athletes to share on social media. opendorse brand partners include the NFL Players Association, PGA Tour, New Jersey Devils, more than 15 major college athletic departments, and many of the top advertisers in sports.

“We believe in opendorse and we look forward to continuing our work with their team as they build the leading platform for athletes and brands on social media,” said Rob Schultz, Managing Partner with Serra Ventures. “We have yet to see anyone in the industry that, in our opinion, has been able to establish a product that generates this level of buy-in from both athletes and their brand partners.”

Headquartered in Lincoln, Nebraska, opendorse recently expanded its presence to the country’s primary sports and media markets, opening satellite offices in New York City and Chicago.

The additional financing will allow opendorse to drive product growth and innovation, invest in additional sales and marketing resources, and continue to evaluate strategic growth opportunities.

“In 2015, we invested in opendorse because we believed in the power of their product to get compelling content into the social feeds of athletes, proving to be one of the most impactful media channels,” said Thad Langford, General Partner with Flyover Capital. “Having watched the growth of the opendorse product and their thought leadership, the Flyover team is thrilled to remain a partner as they strive to realize their vision of providing one platform with access to all the world’s athletes.”

“During my time at F1 and previously ESPN, I’ve come to understand the innate power of sports and the value of its content,” said Sean Bratches, Managing Director, Formula 1. “Fragmentation in the marketplace is accelerating and is influencing the way fans are consuming content—they’re consuming multiple pieces of content concurrently from multiple sources and on multiple devices. With social media and tools like opendorse, athletes and their personal brands are well positioned to attract the passionate, engaged audiences that advertisers crave.”

Rod Armstrong is Vice President of Strategic Partnerships for AIM in Lincoln, Nebraska. He is a regular contributor to Silicon Prairie News.