Former Husker football players help athletes get paid for tweets

One year ago, former University of Nebraska-Lincoln football teammates and college roommates …

Hurrdat Social Media works with athletes and brands for marketing opportunities on Twitter. Above, example of tweet (not actual tweet) from a former Husker football player.* Graphic courtesy of Hurrdat Social Media.

One year ago, former University of Nebraska-Lincoln football teammates and college roommates Blake Lawrence (far left) and Adi Kunalic (near left) founded Hurrdat Social Media. Today, the Hurrdat team is seven strong, and the co-founders’ Husker football connections place them in a niche social media market where they’ve begun to help athletes monetize their tweets. 

The company started working with Prince Amukamara, who currently plays for New York Giants, in January. Soon, Lawrence, who is now out of football, and Kunalic, who is currently on the Carolina Panthers roster, realized there was a need from local companies to connect with local athletes and have them endorse products.

“We started off consulting with these athletes to make sure they had a positive presence online,” Lawrence said. “That naturally transitioned to, ‘How are we going to generate revenue from these relationships with athletes?’ We determined that if these athletes would give us the right to market goods and products through their name, then they wouldn’t have to pay for our services because we could generate revenue through marketing products.”

This month, Hurrdat will introduce its Athlete Engagement Platform (Left: screenshot courtesy of Hurrdat). Prior to January, Hurrdat had been mainly focusing on providing social media solutions to small businesses, which the company will still continue to offer.

Lawrence said good word of mouth has helped build the new platform. Amukamara, for instance, has helped inform other athletes about Hurrdat. “Prince is part of an agency with over 90 NFL athletes, and we’re naturally part of the conversation when those athletes are looking for social media help,” Lawrence said, “so that’s how we started bringing in new clients in this space.”

Hurrdat is currently working with more than 20 NFL and NBA athletes, including AmukamaraRay Rice of the Baltimore Ravens, Adam Carriker of the Washington Redskins and Ovie Mughelli of the Atlanta Falcons, plus Eric Crouch of the Omaha Nighthawks.

Lawrence explained how the Athlete Engagement Platform works: “When a brand wants Prince to talk about them, and they submit a lame 140-character tweet, Prince would look at it and say, ‘I would never say that.’ So what we do is we take any message that the brand wants, and we’re going to convert it into a way to where it sounds authentic and where it comes from the athlete themselves.” Each sponsored tweet, Lawrence said, features some disclaimer that it contains a paid endorsement, such as the “(ad)” in the tweets above.

Lawrence explained how Hurrdat is different than Adly, a Los Angeles-based startup that has received more than $5 million in funding: “We are a local approach to the Adly model,” he said. “Adly has celebrities and sports figures available for brands to use to tweet about their product. Where we’re different is that we know that we have a group of athletes.”

Added Lawrence: “We’re delivering a service that you don’t have to be a big-name brand. You don’t have to connect with the superstar, but you can use an athlete to reach a market through a well-publicized endorsement of your brand. If you want to market in Nebraska on, there’s a gap there. Nothing shows up.” 

In June, Hurrdat reached an agreement with Husker Sports Marketing, the multimedia rights partner of the University of Nebraska and an IMG College property, to serve as HSM’s preferred social media marketing vendor (left: image courtesy of Hurrdat). Eventually, Hurrdat would like to partner with IMG College nationwide.

As far as what’s next for Hurrdat, Lawrence said the company will start the next build-out for its site, which will include the automation of message approval. With that update, Lawrence said, Hurrdat may need to seek funding in the future.


*Update 11:55 p.m. – When first published, the top graphic displayed an example tweet from Ndamukong Suh. The tweet has since been removed since Suh is not a client of Hurrdat Social Media.


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