MarketPryce, an online marketplace for athlete marketing deals, raises $3M in seed funding

MarketPryce, an online marketplace connecting athletes and businesses for marketing partnerships, raised $3 million in a funding round.

The funding comes less than two months after the NCAA allowed college athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness, a move that has resulted in a significant increase in traffic and business activity on MarketPryce.

Jason Bergman, co-founder and managing director of MarketPryce, did not disclose the names of the investors, only that they were a “group of private institutional investors.”

Bergman founded the company in February 2020 with Shehryar Khan, a former colleague of Robly, an email marketing company. Bergman had experience representing a dozen low-key professional athletes and struggled to secure marketing deals for them. It was even difficult to know who to contact at companies, and even when Bergman managed to identify the right people who had the power to close deals, more often than not they did not respond to his requests.

Bergman knew there was an easier way for athletes and businesses to discover each other and modeled MarketPryce after coming across websites where people could connect quickly and easily. For most of the last year, Khan, an experienced developer, has created the MarketPryce website, which officially launched in January.

MarketPryce saw some traction earlier this year among professional athletes, but activity really picked up on July 1 with the NIL legislation becoming official. Since its launch, the company has registered more than 1,300 athletes and more than 300 companies registered, with approximately 500 athletes and 50 companies on board since the beginning of July. The website has facilitated over 2,000 marketing transactions in total.

Businesses are not charged for accessing MarketPryce and can offer any athlete free products or pay them for promotions or appearances. MarketPryce earns a 5% salary for paid offers but does not receive any commission for product trades only.

Students and professional athletes can sign up for as low as $15 and $49 per month, respectively. Agents and Athlete Advisors pay $99 per month for up to 10 of their clients up to $399 per month for 51 or more clients. Anyone subscribing to an annual subscription benefits from a 50% reduction.

Bergman noted that most recent deals involve college athletes receiving free food, clothing and other goods, while paid deals are typically $50 to $500 each. He added that more than half of the agreements with universities involved women in sports such as volleyball, football and athletics.

“It’s been really explosive the last two months,” Bergman said. “It’s a very affordable way (for businesses) to get exposure and build brand awareness. And for college athletes, if they can trade $100 a month, it’s life changing.

MarketPryce currently has seven employees, but the company plans to use proceeds from the funding round to hire an additional 10-15 people, particularly in software development/engineering and sales/marketing roles. It will also update its website and app.

MarketPryce is among several marketplaces targeting the over 460,000 college athletes looking to cash in on their NIL, so there is more competition. Still, the company expects more deals to be made in its market with the college football season and other fall sports underway and students returning to campus.

“That’s one of the reasons we wanted to increase that round now,” Bergman said. “Time was really important to us. We wanted to make sure we could capitalize on this expected growth.

Charles T. McConnell