Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Kickstarter - Sponsorships & Moore

After a weeks-long hiatus on everything except work and school, I thought it appropriate to re-energize this blog with some thoughts on Kickstarter.

According to their website: “Kickstarter is the largest funding platform for creative projects in the world.  Every month, tens of thousands of amazing people pledge millions of dollars to projects from the worlds of music, film, art, technology, design, food, publishing and other creative fields.”
According to a recent TechCrunch headline, it’s working – “Kickstarter, Two Years and 20,000 Projects Later: $53 Million Pledged, $40 Million Collected.”

I’ve received funding requests from friends/colleagues for projects that fit within this description, but what really got my attention about this company was a recent Fred Wilson blog post. 

Wilson told the story of how a professional golfer named Mike D is using Kickstarter to fund his journey on the mini-tours and create a documentary about it.  Wilson summed it up best by saying: “Mike is taking the classic big brand sponsorship model and crowdsourcing it with Kickstarter.  Awesome.”  He has raised over $13,000 thus far, which is almost double his minimum goal.

I think this is a great example of: 1) a golfer applying innovative thinking to the pursuit of his dreams; 2) a product being applied in a way that the company had no clue it could/would be used.  Great lessons for both golfers and entrepreneurs.

This story reminded me of Ryan Moore, the young PGA Tour player and 2004 U.S. Amateur Champ.  Moore parted with his club sponsors in 2008 and then signed a deal with a start-up equipment company called Scratch Golf in 2009.  The deal – Moore would play Scratch Golf’s irons/wedges in exchange for becoming a part-owner of the company.  Compensation was not cash, but equity.  Again, genius. 

The arrangement ultimately fell apart last year with Moore signing a deal with Adams Golf and losing his equity in Scratch, but I believe (and hope) he was a pioneer for more golfers to think in a similar way.  Certainly it’s a great opportunity for players to build equity in something other than their golf game.  It also injects an innovative spirit into the golf industry and provides a path for start-ups to penetrate and pivot around the “good ole boys network.”

I think these two innovative approaches to sponsorships are steps in the right direction and will hopefully pave more paths for golf entrepreneurs.

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