In the 2011 documentary The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, filmmaker Morgan Spurlock creates a film funded fully through product placement and brand sponsorship. It was a look at sponsorship in action, and one that made it apparent that there’s big money to be made in connecting brands with indirect advertising opportunities. Now a new startup called Sponsorfied is looking to make it easier for brands to find sponsorship opportunities and vice versa, and hopefully make some money in the process. So far, the money part of the equation seems to be working out nicely: Sponsorfied has already crossed the $1 million milestone in terms of sponsorship deals arranged through its system, without any marketing or press attention.
Sponsorfied was inspired by co-founder Baldwin Cunningham‘s experience working as a marketer for a number of liquor brands, the company’s CEO and co-founder Cullen Wilson shared in an interview. “[Cunningham] was in the unique position of not only sponsoring events, but finding additional sponsors for said events,” Wilson said. “We were all living together in Austin, TX at the time, and coming from a startup background I realized this was a completely broken and frustrating process, which absolutely needed a technology solution.” Ultimately, Wilson said Sponsorfied plans to help connect brands with “all relevant sponsorship opportunities,” including “events, conferences, music tours, sports” and more.
Wilson and his team, which includes former daily deals site Spreadsy co-founders Stuart Ross and David Matthews in addition to Cunningham, spent months talking to hundreds of potential customers, from brands to event organizers of all shapes and sizes, and decided there was definitely a need for something better to help brands find interesting sponsorship opportunities. “Addressing a multi-billion dollar market certainly didn’t hurt our decision to start building either,” Wilson adds.
Sponsorfied is among that rare breed of startup that already has a revenue model in place out of the starting gate. Wilson shared that the company makes money whenever sponsorships are arranged via its platform, ranging from 10 to 25 percent of the total deal value, “depending on the size of the sponsorship and the support services surrounding it.” The flexibility of Sponsorfied allows it to tailor its offerings to suit the needs of the event coordinator; the fewer resources Sponsorfied has to commit to a sponsorship opportunity, the cheaper the price for users.
The team also has additional revenue channels. “Other sources of revenue will come from sponsorship up-sells, specifically from various media partnerships we have procured,” Wilson said. “Furthermore, featured events and promoted listings will be an additional source of revenue. ”
As for funding, Wilson said that isn’t a priority at the moment. “We’re focused on building out the product before worrying about funding,” he told us. But that hasn’t stopped the company from making big plans for the upcoming SXSW festival in Austin, Texas this year. “We’re partnering with other startups like LaunchRock to do a large event called the Carvan, as well as helping another 50+ unofficial SXSW events like the Vayable & Airbnb Mixer, or the All Girl Hack Night, to find sponsors,” Wilson points out.
Sponsorfied is still in stealth mode and a few weeks away from launching beta access to event coordinators for its platform (until now it’s been hand-picking its initial users). Companies and planners will be able to “register, create a profile, and start creating, editing, and promoting your events from an easy to use dashboard,” Wilson said, after Sponsorfied checks to make sure everything’s in order (access will be curated to ensure the best possible experience for brands and event coordinators), the team will start the match-making process. “For now we’re working with a trusted list of sponsors behind the scenes, but the next big release will be our sponsor dashboard, specifically for brands,” Wilson said. “We’re working on some really interesting stuff with event feedback, metrics, and data analysis that brands currently don’t have before or after the sponsorship process.”