Ishveen Jolly (Anand), Founder and CEO, OpenSponsorship, is using her wide-ranging experience and interactions in India and Europe to redefine the importance of connections between agents and athletes and companies. What sponsorships will look like— a reimagined investment playground accessed through untapped AI and data.
By tapping into the potential of AI, Ishveen delivers a platform that has room for every player. She considers the way sports decorum achieves optimal success and the way that technology advancement is moving in today’s rapidly-evolving world.
A Qualified Endeavour
Ishveen started her career as a management consultant and then as a sports agent. For five years, she worked in the sports industry primarily focused on securing sponsorships for athletes, teams, leagues, and events in India and Europe. Along the way, however, she realized that it wasn’t always easy for agents and athletes to connect with companies and vice versa. And when they did, the results weren’t always what either party had envisioned.
A hard-hitting test occurred during the pandemic when they had to set up the entire office remotely. This huge adjustment is being thoroughly embraced now with their team across the US and even in the UK. This has meant being more reliant on processes, KPIs and ensuring check-ins regularly to ensure team members are thriving and achieving.
Defining Moments of OpenSponsorship
As a startup, unique challenges are a part of the business. Currently, some of the company’s challenges come from growing as a start-up to becoming a bigger business. OpenSponsorship constantly has to make sure that they have all the correct processes in place for them to continue to scale up and continuously make sure everyone on the team is in sync with a clear definition of ‘where we want to excel as one’ with OpenSponsorship. They are also facing an influx of competition, especially within the college space since the new NIL rule is in play. However, they are committed to constantly upgrading their technology to make sure it is sufficient, while still being simple for both athletes and brands to use.
Women Determined to Rising
Women can often change the atmosphere of any challenge. Any time you can bring diversity into the boardroom and into decision-making, it is better for all. Women are the primary purchaser of goods, which is a huge part of GDP. Understanding the patterns of how and why women purchase, is a major key. People have seen a huge part of big companies, delivering on women’s needs, ranging from personal care, health care, and furthermore. Ishveen feels like understanding women is most important. Women bringing their different perspectives is really important as well, especially when speaking about tech and AI.
Ishveen thinks business and politics go hand and hand. You can not have one without the other, it is just how the world operates. There are so many business decisions that ride on policies. For example, in the world of sports, politically speaking sports betting is legal in the U.S and that brings tons of business and money into the company. Plus tons of businesses are opening up in terms of legality like CBD, which leads to business directly. All of these new categories often come with questions that are not clear yet the policies come into play. Policies often change, one of which people are currently dealing with is maternity leave, they present the leave that gives women the opportunity to go back into the workforce and that obviously transforms business. A huge cross-section between both fields.
Women Hold More Potential to Excel Economically
Obviously, sports and technology both have independently been male-dominated industries.
But from DNA to genetics, both are different. Both are wired differently and those differences are what makes women tick. They see the world through different eyes. In terms of women, speaking of minorities, people with unique voices, are the ones who will make the world a better place for living because they are going to be more inclusive. Building diversity is what will be the recipe for success. It will help us build products, businesses, and policies that are inclusive for any and everyone.
OpenSponsorship does have male team members on the team who are able to be more sympathetic and empathetic. But having a woman in the room can make people more sensitive and also create awareness in terms of being inclusive themselves. As a woman, you may use different language or be more considerate of others’ points of view. Female leadership can be more humane, as they often are more considerate. It often holds true a lot of time, but not always.
Roles and Responsibilities
Ishveen’s primary role as Founder & CEO is to constantly break new barriers, and think about new solutions to grow OpenSponsorship. Growing the team, revenue, and reaching new milestones really gets her excited for the future. She is constantly engaged in all aspects of the business. For her, it is important that she understands how the company flows from the inside to the outside.
OpenSponsorship platform is the core of what it does. About a year back they released their mobile app and they are seeing an uptick in that from users – Mobile is becoming core to their product. They love the use of AI and data for their platform, from matching to suggesting the right campaigns for brands. They are always figuring out ways to plug in other technological solutions to theirs, like transitioning all their payments to athletes through Tipalti, using Stripe to collect payments from brands just to make it easier and quicker. They also use Intercom so that people can message us in real-time through the app. They are constantly leveraging technology to make their process quicker and more seamless. They differ from their competitors because they don’t want sponsorship to be a chance, based on who they know, or whether or not they got lucky. So they are determined to make sure that there is access for everyone and that it’s meritocratic, just like how finding a job or dating is meritocratic.
New Line of Services
With OpenSponsorship’s most recent growth round, they are putting an immediate emphasis on growing our internal team, as well as their recently launched UK market. They are also aggressively expanding into the college space given the recent rulings of over 460,000 college athletes being allowed to monetize off their name, likeness, and image – allowing smaller brands with lower budgets to enter the sports sponsorship space. On the supply side, they have added partnership opportunities for teams and events, in addition to athletes.
In the long-term, they have big plans to diversify outside sports into music and other verticals. They are also focused on increased expansion internationally – potentially into Asia and other regions while aiming to provide new services and functionalities on their platform. They are also committed to putting a stronger emphasis on our CSR efforts – worked with the Florida government and NHS (UK) to help promote vaccinations and ‘Stay Safe’ programs for COVID-19.
“You have to be ready to know your stuff to prove that you belong at the table. The entrepreneurship journey can be long, hard, and lonely, so definitely be ready for that and have a strong support system throughout the journey- both professionally and personally.”