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Ishveen Anand, Founder & CEO - OpenSponsorship (Interview)

An excerpt from the interview of Ishveen Anand - someone who left her career in management consultancy in London and moved to New Delhi, India to become a sports agent. She realized that there was a huge untapped potential in the annual $60 billion sports sponsorship market and started OpenSponsorship. Today it is the largest and smartest marketplace connecting brands and smart marketers to over 5,700 professional athletes.

Q) You started OpenSponsorship in 2014. Tell us a little bit about the early days. How did the idea come about? How did you transition to being an entrepreneur?


A) I was always interested in cross-border sponsorship. I was from England, but I was working in India, cricket being omnipresent. I always wondered why Pepsi India had the rights to Harbhajan Singh, but Pepsi UK wasn’t using those rights, even though there's such a big South Asian diaspora.


That really intrigued me. So, I started doing my own cross-border deals, working quite closely with Hero (Hero MotoCorp) on South America or other markets they were looking at, and through that, I was basically always on the plane and researching and whatever else. One day, I was using Airbnb in my personal life, I was using LinkedIn professionally. I thought, wait, why isn’t there a portal where you can see all the sponsorship rights. As a seller, I could list what's available, and as a buyer, I could buy what's available. So that's really how the idea originated.


Over the last six years or so that we've been around, I'd say we’ve really doubled down on athletes.

"The main reason was the rise of influencer marketing, social media, digital, etc. Especially in a place like America, there are thousands of NFL players, hundreds of NBA players, and mostly, all the sponsorship dollars go to the top 1%. Everyone else kind of gets left to the wayside."

With the rise of digital marketing and social media, even youngsters and rookies are really influential, and the sports agency model wasn't set up to service them. That's really why we've doubled down on athletes, but our greater view is to make sure that we can do everything, service teams, events, leagues, and everyone else.

 

To watch the complete interview, please click here

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