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This Startup Is Using AI To Overthrow Old-School Athlete Marketing

“I was passing athletes on the way to class and walking in and out of local businesses,” said Adler, now 23 and chief executive officer of the company. “There was this theme of helplessness on how to take the first step with this new opportunity.”

This Startup Is Using AI To Overthrow Old-School Athlete Marketing

When name, image and likeness (NIL) rules changed in 2021 to allow college athletes to profit from their brands, Jack Adler saw an opportunity. The Syracuse University student soon founded Out2Win to connect businesses with athlete influencers.

This Startup Is Using AI To Overthrow Old-School Athlete Marketing

Out2Win’s AI-Powered Platform

Adler began simply by pitching local businesses on partnering with student-athletes. Deals with restaurants and shops eventually evolved into campaigns with major brands like Nerf, Reebok and Oakley.

Now Adler is preparing to launch technology that he hopes will transform the way brands identify and work with athlete creators. Out2Win is rolling out an artificial intelligence-powered platform that ranks athletes based on their “off the field marketability.”

“We’ve developed algorithms that help brands identify the best fit for campaigns based on marketing and audience data metrics,” Adler said. “Brands navigate a database of athletes ranked by what we call the Out2Win score – an AI algorithm rating their off-the-field marketability strength.”

This Startup Is Using AI To Overthrow Old-School Athlete Marketing

Overcoming Athlete Creator Challenges

Adler thinks brands should evaluate athletes more on their abilities as content creators. “A major challenge is that athlete creators are sometimes overshadowed by those performing at a higher level competitively,” Adler said. “Our platform allows brands to holistically evaluate athlete creators based on their off-the-field strengths.”

Adler argues this dynamic is out of step with the realities of the NIL landscape, where social media partnerships account for around three-quarters of deals. In his view, these are essentially influencer marketing arrangements where the brand is paying the athlete as a creator. “It’s important to remember that around 75% of NIL deals are social media partnerships – so it is a brand paying an athlete more or less as a creator,” Adler said. “That’s where we’ve taken this creator economy focus.”

The Out2Win founder contends there previously wasn’t a good way for brands to comprehensively assess an athlete’s off-the-field marketability when deciding which individuals to partner with. His company’s AI-powered athlete intelligence platform aims to solve that problem.

“Based on the way NIL has transformed athlete marketing into this social media-focused initiative, brands should be evaluating athletes based on their content creator abilities,” Adler said. “But there wasn’t a place to holistically evaluate an athlete creator’s off-the-field marketability strength – so we built a platform allowing brands to take a deeper look at that.”

This Startup Is Using AI To Overthrow Old-School Athlete Marketing

Resources for Campaign Execution

In addition to identifying potential partners, Out2Win’s upcoming athlete intelligence platform will serve as an information hub providing resources to facilitate and execute full NIL campaigns. “The platform acts as an information hub where we’re helping brands make more informed decisions on their athlete partnerships,” Adler said. “But we’re also providing all the resources they need to actually facilitate and execute those campaigns.”

This includes templated materials like outreach emails, creative briefs laying out campaign parameters, and standardized contract structures. “Really just empowering them with everything required to go out and facilitate these influencer marketing campaigns with athletes on their own,” Adler says. 

This Startup Is Using AI To Overthrow Old-School Athlete Marketing

Philanthropy a “Major Focus”

While building a business, Adler said Out2Win has a “major focus on philanthropy” by consistently involving charitable initiatives. The company recently ran an “Athlete Creators for Cause” program that raised money for charities chosen by participating athletes.

Out2Win’s next push is a fundraiser called “Out2Win Against Cancer” which will build a team of athlete creators to raise money for the HEADstrong Foundation. The organization supports families of college athletes battling cancer. “We’re committed to continued impact in the athlete creator ecosystem as we build it, focusing on consistently involving philanthropy,” Adler said.

Managing Hectic Athlete Lifestyles

Looking ahead, Adler thinks more innovation is needed to help time-strapped athlete creators remain consistent while juggling the demands of their sports. He hopes tools can be developed – ideally integrated with Out2Win’s platform – to streamline content creation amid their “crazy hectic lives.”

“Athlete creators struggle with time management and content ideas while living such intense lifestyles,” Adler said. “There’s a need for a platform to help manage that.”

For athletes looking to maximize NIL opportunities, Adler advises getting “creative and strategic” about growing personal brands on social media. He said real opportunities stem from providing a behind-the-scenes look that fans crave.

“Sports fans are eager to learn about the lifestyles of their favorite athletes because they’re so passionate about the team and sport,” Adler said. “Build an audience by providing that insider access.”

The Future of NIL: Shifting Focus from Pay-for-Play to True Creator Economy

On the policy front, Adler would like NIL rules changed to allow international students to profit like their American counterparts. He also hopes the spotlight can shift more toward “real” NIL – brands sponsoring athlete created content – instead of the current economy driven by booster funds paying top recruits.

“NIL was created to let athletes capitalize on personal brand value, but now we’ve seen it create an economy between donors and top sports recruits,” Adler said. “I want to highlight the athletes maximizing NIL through creative methods.”

Ultimately, Out2Win aims to evolve from a college athlete creator focus to a broader platform serving the entire athlete creator ecosystem. Adler wants it to be a hub for all athletes – from current pro ranks to former college stars – to monetize personal brands.

“Now that NIL exists, more college athletes are becoming creators to make money,” Adler said. “Our goal is to be the platform brands use to stay on top of this ecosystem as those athlete creators go pro.”

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Cecilia Carloni, Interview Manager at Influence Weekly and writer for NetInfluencer. Coming from beautiful Argentina, Ceci has spent years chatting with big names in the influencer world, making friends and learning insider info along the way. When she’s not deep in interviews or writing, she's enjoying life with her two daughters. Ceci’s stories give a peek behind the curtain of influencer life, sharing the real and interesting tales from her many conversations with movers and shakers in the space.

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