There is no lack of sports agents, particularly in the world of representing National Football League players. In its June 23, 2016 report, Inside The League noted that the top 11 certified NFL Players Association contract advisors represent a combined 560 NFL players. Considering that there are only 32 teams and 53 players on each team's roster, that only leaves roughly 1,000 other NFL players to be represented by the hundreds of other certified advisors.
Seasoned entrepreneurs Gary and AJ Vaynerchuk understood that the odds were thus stacked against them when they decided to launch VaynerSports, a full-service athlete representation agency. The brothers acquired a boutique football firm as part of its official launch, which brought experienced agents Mook Williams and Brian McLaughlin into the fold. Despite the barriers to entry, the Vaynerchuk brothers believe they are onto something and will provide value in a congested ecosystem.
There must be a separating factor to break into a cluttered environment.
Gary Vaynerchuk grew his family wine business from $3 million in sales to $60 million in 5 years. He also created thriving digital agency VaynerMedia. Gary (@garyvee) has over 1.29 million followers on Twitter, 897,000 likes of his Facebook page, 400,000 followers on Instagram and has spent more time than most on developing a massive following on Snapchat. It would not be improper to anoint him the King of Social Media.
He and his brother AJ have the idea of separating VaynerSports from existing, successful sports agencies through a dedication to helping players off the field, particularly when it comes to improving their social media profiles.
"One of our strengths at VaynerSports will be our ability to help players grow and leverage their social media platforms," said AJ. "We will sit down with each client and determine what their goals are beyond the football field, and discuss how to best execute a plan for their continued success. We will also create nontraditional marketing and branding opportunities for our clients, aiming to expand their brand and revenue sources beyond the typical NFL ecosystem."
The team also aims to significantly bolster players' post-career options by integrating the business experience and connections that Gary and AJ can bring to the table.
Something special is certainly needed to compete against the likes of entrenched sports agents and a focus on social media plus post-career options may be the secret sauce for VaynerSports' success.
It is easier to enter an industry through the right acquisition at the right price.
The Vaynerchuk's would not comment on the purchase price of Symmetry Sports, the company that was previously owned and managed by Williams and McLaughlin -- now a part of VaynerSports. However, it is believed that a reasonable price was paid to enter the sports agency industry with some clients under advisement and in exchange for a rebranding of the company name.
McLaughlin and Williams each have less than 10 active NFL player clients, but Gary and AJ still saw a lot of value in partnering with the duo.
"When exploring business opportunities Gary and I predominantly look for two major items. The first, is the quality of people we are investing in/ partnering with. The diligence process on this transaction focused on who Brian and Mook were as people. This is both as businessmen and as friends/family. We really took our time on this front since this is a people business and Gary and I wanted to ensure we had reliable, loyal, good people as partners," said AJ.
"The second item is ensuring that we can make an impact. We really valued the experience that Mook and Brian had, and the fact that they did indeed have active NFL clients. Symmetry was at the perfect place as a company for Gary and I to come in right away and make an impact. It wasn't too small or too big, too early or too late, just right. There were other opportunities out there for us, but at the end of the day, the blend of who they were and the stage of the company made this partnership the right one for us."
Gary and AJ will have an active role as strategic partners.
It is not just an acquisition for the brothers. The plan is to have them play many key roles as VaynerSports advances.
"As experienced entrepreneurs they will be guiding the company through its growth," said McLaughlin. "This will include financial support, investment decisions, and overall guidance and decision making."