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There’s Now a Way for Tech Startups to Do Business With NFL Players

Photograph by D Dipasupil — Getty Images

It just got easier to connect with Tom Brady — if you’re a startup founder, that is.

The NFL Players Association (NFLPA), the union organization for NFL players, announced today the launch of OneTeam Collective, a business accelerator for sports technology startups.

The accelerator is unique in that it will help startups obtain the rights to sports-related intellectual property in exchange for equity (for example, the right to use Brady’s face in an app). The NFLPA, after all, holds exclusive group licensing rights and access to more than 2,000 current NFL players — rights that are usually prohibitively expensive to pay for up front.

The program will also provide companies with funding, marketing support, and mentorship.

OneTeam Collective is open to businesses of any growth stage that are focused on fan engagement, data analytics, mobile fitness, sports nutrition, fantasy sports, gaming, or virtual reality. Startups will be able to pitch their ideas and products, and the OneTeam Collective founding members will decide whether they want to invest in each startup in exchange for equity.

Founding partners include the Harvard Innovation Lab, Intel, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Madrona Venture Group, LeadDog Marketing Group, and Sports Innovation Lab. Active and former professionals athletes will also play a key role — Denver Broncos offensive tackle Russell Okung and former NFL linebacker Dhani Jones are on the advisory board.

The application is open now, and participants will be accepted on a rolling basis.