Jeff Schattner has years of accounting experience, but a resume that falls short of showing any true entrepreneurial success. Yet, Schattner has decided to push the accounting world aside to create a startup Lawrence Hunt, which manufactures and sells 100% cotton dress shirts with sweat-wicking technology in the underarms.
The odds are against Schattner being successful with his first startup; however, he has managed to make a big move that could go a long way toward shifting the odds in his favor. After only six months of being in business, he has added Detroit Tigers starting catcher James McCann as an endorser. It could lead to big results for the brand.
A startup should start with looking local for a big name.
What should a startup do to make a major local impact soon after setting itself up for consumers to purchase products? One smart choice, if the opportunity presents itself, is to associate with a local ambassador who truly connects to many constituents of the geographical region.
"[James] McCann was a natural fit for us, being a Detroit-based company that creates dress shirts for professionals to 'stay cool' under pressure," explained Schattner. "James is a leader on and off the field, leading a veteran pitching staff as a rookie last year, and has handled pressure well at a young age."
Make sure the endorsee is in it for more than just the money.
Some athletes are able to do a fine job pretending that they actually enjoy a product from a brand paying them a bunch of money in exchange for promotion. The reality is that most of them have a tough time truly selling the connection to consumers.
"Our shirts are for professional who are leaders in and out of the office. They're confident and they lead teams," said Schattner. "James had owned a few shirts and loved them, and the fit between the two of us seemed perfect."
A startup sometimes can't afford to pay an athlete.
This is when a strong equity component may become necessary for a brand to match with an athlete. Luckily for Lawrence Hunt, McCann was willing to take shares in the company in lieu of making a strong demand for money.
"James, much like us, is a growing 'start-up' in his own right, with a ton of potential and future all-star in the making. We thought we could grow together," said Schattner.
McCann signed a multi-year endorsement deal with Lawrence Hunt, which gives him an ownership stake in the company. Schattner believes that this gives him the incentive to continue to help the company grow. Importantly, Lawrence Hunt still gets a lot of the deliverables that other companies would receive from a traditional endorsement deal, including but not limited to event/appearance obligations, use of McCann's name and likeness in all marketing materials and refreshed photo shoots and/or videos if the company chooses.
"Even after the agreement ends, though, having that ownership stake gives James the incentive to continue to help us grow," added Schattner.