Local eCommerce startup FanPrint is gaining traction with a unique business model that involves selling sponsored, exclusive apparel products to sports fans via social media.
FanPrint was founded in 2012 as “FanTree” by its CEO TK Stohlman (after he graduated from the Tech Wildcatters program), and it has since carved out an interesting niche for itself in the sports apparel market. The business model is a simple but successful one. FanPrint sets up licensing agreements with specific major leagues, teams or players and then turns exclusive designs created by sports fans, for sports fans, into original products. Those products are marketed exclusively by social media, with FanPrint paying its partners anywhere between 8 and 15 percent for each product sold. To date, FanPrint has raised $3.25 million in private funding from investors like Woodson.
The company got its first big break just 18 months ago, when, in October 2014, it struck a deal with NFL Players, Inc., the marketing and licensing arm of the NFL Players Association (NFLPA), to sell licensed NFL-themed apparel. Although that was without doubt a massive deal, it was also one that gained more attention than it otherwise would have thanks to its charitable focus — the NFLPA dedicates its share of the proceeds of all product sales to the Gene Upshaw Player Assistance Trust Fund, which helps former players who have fallen on hard times, and other organizations.
Around the same time, FanPrint inked deals with NFL stars like five-time Pro Bowl safety Darren Woodson, who has since become an executive at the company, and a multi-year partnership with Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray.
More recently, FanPrint has landed partnerships with several other notable sports leagues, including the National Football League, Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League’s players associations in April 2015, as well as numerous college sports teams. Finally, in November 2015, FanPrint announced it had signed up with the Dallas Cowboys’ affiliate merchandising program and struck a deal with the University of Texas, firmly establishing its presence in the collegiate space.
Those partnerships have helped sales to snowball. In a recent interview with Xconomy, Stohlman revealed that the company pulled in $10 million in revenues in 2015 and is expecting that to rise to $25 million by the end of this year.
Photo source: Pixabay
Blog post by: Mike Wheatley