Twilio Startups Founder Interview Series | TS7: OpenSponsorship

January 20, 2020
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Welcome to the Twilio Startups 7 (TS7, for short) where we feature exciting founders from around the world to share their inspiring entrepreneurial journeys through seven quickfire questions. Today we would like to introduce you to Ishveen Anand founder and CEO of OpenSponsorship. Read on to learn more about her move from sports management to launching a marketplace connecting athletes and brands. Check out advice for aspiring entrepreneurs looking to raise capital, inspiration for creating lasting strategic partnerships, and the reason why treadmills are great for work-life balance.



From the founder of OpenSponsorship

We reached out to Ishveen Anand, former sports agent and the founder of OpenSponsorship, to get her take on how their technology is changing the sponsorship industry.

Describe your company in 160 characters or less (the original length of a text message)

OpenSponsorship is the largest and smartest marketplace in sports sponsorship, connecting brands to athletes leveraging AI, social insights and ROI data.

Why did you start your company?

As a Management Consultant turned Sports Agent, I fell in love with sponsorship as a form of marketing, but I thought the process to brokering deals seemed really antiquated. I looked at other industries like real estate, dating, recruitment and realized technology enabled marketplaces were making connections at scale, more efficiently and effectively, so decided to build the AirBnb of sponsorship.

What channels do you use (email, SMS, Voice, Chat, Video, etc.) and how do you use them to communicate with your customers?

Our marketplace relies on (a) us being able to communicate with our users - both brands and athletes/agents and (b) us being able to facilitate communication between our users. Thus, we use email, messaging apps and a soon to be developed app to help both these lines of communication.

Tell us about your most successful communications strategy or campaign.

We recently helped a Vegan protein company Natreve to partner with NBA Champion Danny Green. The deal included social media, appearances and the recording of this ad. I also love the smaller deals between brands and niche athletes which would never be possible without a marketplace,  because the deal values are in the hundreds and thus no-one is incentivized to broker these, when not at scale.

What are your top 3 tips on raising capital?

  1. Understand what you need the money for (i.e.: Have a great story/plan to show how this money will get you to your next milestone).
  2. Raise money from people you respect and like, your investors are with you for life.
  3. Be prepared. Raising money is a process, so having all your decks, docs, and outreach organized is key.

As a founder, how do you manage work-life balance?

I am lucky that I get to switch off when spending time with my husband and I love working out. Plus, you can’t use your laptop while on a treadmill. It’s imperative to switch off so your brain can come back fresh.

What have you learned as a founder/entrepreneur that you wish you had known on Day 1?

Be aggressive and go fast. The quicker you fail, the quicker you will figure out what works.

Ready to join Twilio Startups?

We hope you enjoyed this article from the founder of OpenSponsorship about how she connects brands and athletes.

This post has been created by the Twilio Startups Team.

You can apply to the Twilio Startups program here. Know an inspiring founder or are one yourself? Email Nikki Rubin, nrubin[at], to nominate a founder for TS7.  

Would you like to read more founder interviews? Click here for the next article.