Alongside beer brands and car manufacturers, a handful of private companies shelled out big bucks--millions, actually--to score a Super Bowl ad slot.

Last year, the event drew in a record 114.4 million viewers, making it a major sales opportunity for companies of all sizes. Between 2006 and 2015, the event has accounted for more than $2.3 billion in television network sales.

Companies that have advertised in past years have been reluctant to share just how much their sales have been impacted, but all agree on at least one thing: It's worth the investment.

"We had a really good return on our investment," said Julie Miller, a spokesperson for TurboTax. The software company, which lets users to file their taxes online for free, will be airing its 30-second ad during this year's Super Bowl--for the third year in a row, thanks to the sales boost it saw in previous years.

SoFi is a new entrant to the Super Bowl ad game this year. The San Francisco, Calif.-based financial technology startup provides student loan refinancing, as well as personal loans, parent loans, and mortgage services. COO Joanne Bradford is confident that the company will benefit significantly from its Super Bowl ad.

Since launching the "Bankless World" teaser and #SoFiGreat campaign on social media, the company has seen record traffic to its website. The 30-second teaser has generated 10 million views. The amount spent on the commercial was roughly 20 percent of the startup's ad budget in 2016, Bradford.  

Here are some other entrepreneur-led companies expected to make a splash during Sunday's big game:

1.  Wix.com

For the second year in a row, website builder Wix.com put up the cash for a Super Bowl ad slot, partnering with DreamWorks Animations to create an adorable (and startup-themed) ad campaign.

The Tel Aviv, Israel-based company raised $127 million in its historic 2013 IPO, and is led by its co-founder and CEO Avishai Abrahami.

2.  Bai Brands

The healthy beverage maker, which distributes nationally through the Dr. Pepper Snapple Goup (DPSG), as well as other independent sellers, is rolling out its first-ever Super Bowl ad in three key markets (New York, Los Angeles and Chicago).

While the six-year-old company wouldn't disclose exactly how much it spent on the commercial, a spokesperson notes that it was well above $2 million. Bai did $120 million in 2015 sales through its distributors. This year, it expects to see that number grow to as much as $325 million.

"I'm a believer that the Super Bowl is the smartest bet," says Bai's founder and CEO, Ben Weiss.

3. WeatherTech

This Bolingbrook, Ill.-based business sells car floor mats, rooftop cargo carriers, side-window deflectors, license plate frames, and mud flaps. The prices are somewhat steep ($150 for a floor mat, on average) because the company pays its workers a sizable wage of $20 per hour. In 2013, WeatherTech counted roughly $400 million in sales.

"Many of our competitors make their products in Asia, and we had that as an option," MacNeil said in an interview with Crain's. "But I was born here and I've always had great faith in American workers. I just felt we could make better products in America."

If the WeatherTech teaser trailer is any indication, the emphasis on domestic manufacturing will feature heavily in the Super Bowl ad on Sunday.

4. Marmot

The sportswear company, named after the technical term for a group of squirrels, landed its first-ever Super Bowl commercial this year.

"Marmot's new campaign represents a shift from its historical focus on incredible outdoor feats to showcasing the simple joys and benefits of just being outside," hinted Tom Fritz, the company's VP of marketing, in an interview with AdAge

Marmot was founded by then-college students Eric Reynolds and Dave Huntley back in 1971, and is currently owned by Jarden Corp.

5. Amazon

The e-commerce giant, headed by founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, is airing its first-ever Super Bowl commercial this year. The ad focuses largely on the Echo, Amazon's new, voice-enabled smart speaker.

The teaser leading up to the game day ad features Hollywood actor Alec Baldwin, along with the Hall of Fame Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino, who solicits the speaker's help in planning their Super Bowl party.

6. Apartments.com

Acquired by CoStar Group for $585 million in 2014, the apartment listings website is airing a 60-second ad. In it, actor Jeff Goldblum stars as the self-described "Silicon Valley Maverick" Brad Bellflower.

"Like any good Silicon Valley maverick, Brad's vision for his apartment-listing website is nothing less than to change the world. But hyperbole and parody aside, finding a great place to live or moving to a new area really does change your world," said Andrew C. Florance, the founder and CEO of CoStar Group, in an interview with AdAge.

7.  Machine Zone

The Silicon Valley-based app game maker, headed by co-founder and CEO Gabriel Leydon, is returning to the 2016 Super Bowl with a commercial that features actor Arnold Schwarzenegger to promote its new "Mobile Strike" game.

Machine Zone had previously advertised in last year's game, with an ad that featured supermodel Kate Upton, promoting "Game of War: Fire Age." 

Published on: Feb 5, 2016