Four students seized the opportunity to get into the NIL business after being randomly assigned to a group project. After the project was over, they continued their partnership, and LMRS Partners was born.
Name, image and likeness (NIL) deals are new to collegiate sports and allow collegiate athletes to sign sponsorship deals and make money.
“It’s really just putting a value on the personal brands of athletes,” said Gavin Spencer, a senior studying marketing and entrepreneurship. “When you take an athlete that has exposure and combine that with the fact that they’re an influencer […] they’re basically a personal business.”
LMRS partners athletes based on their values and personalities to brands that complement them. The agency started this semester and has already started connecting with TCU athletes in hopes to get them sponsorship deals.
Reed said it would be something to make TCU more attractive than other four-year institutions in the area.
The agency originally pitched a product for track runners to cover their spikes when walking on concrete. They were awarded $250 from the CREATE Competition, where students of any major can compete for seed money to get their startup ideas off the ground.
After weighing the costs of production and manufacturing, the group of four decided they would shift to a new idea. Austin “Tito” Martinez, a junior entrepreneurship and innovation major, said they chose the NIL business because it was something that was fairly new to the collegiate scene. He thought that would help them get some good opportunities.
Their backgrounds in the business world also gave them a head start.
“A lot of us have owned companies previously, so we’re using those previous business connections,” said Laura LaBoon, a junior marketing and entrepreneurship major.
Reed has worked in Fort Worth for about ten years, so she’s been reaching out to her old connections and pitching them business ideas, while LaBoon and Martinez have reached out to other athletes.
“I’ve known Paco from Paco’s Mexican Cuisine for eight years now, so it’s really using our established relationships with athletes and businesses and putting those together,” said Reed.
Reed added that she and Spencer “know a lot of businesses, and Tito and Laura know a lot of athletes, so it’s made a perfect synergy” between them.
The group has already started looking into expanding who they represent.
“We want to use our current athletes as walking testimonies to have an impact on the incoming first-year students and sophomores,’” said Martinez.
Reed added that word of mouth is the company’s strongest form of marketing.
With expansion on the horizon, the group said they believe additional work is inevitable.
The group creates a ‘to-do list’ every Monday and makes a plan to attack it throughout the week, but most of the work bleeds into their time outside of the biweekly meetings.
“There’s no such thing as a real work-life balance,” said Reed. “We’re all committed to our classes, and we’re all committed to making this business work.”
The additional work means long nights and a non-traditional college experience.
“Whether I’m going out or at an event, if I see an athlete, I’m talking to them and making relationships,” said Martinez.
Martinez went to the library afterward to finish up an assignment, ending his day around 2 a.m.
“I’m a night guy myself, but you also have to wake up and hit the ground running and start cranking,” he said.
Despite their busy schedules, LaBoon said they keep constant communication and coordinate if someone else needs help during the week.
“We all work really well together and pull our own weight,” said LaBoon.
LMRS recently presented in the CREATE Competition again, this time landing in the top 10 of all finalists. If their request is fulfilled, they’ll land $8,000 in seed money to support their NIL venture.
More information about LMRS Partners can be found on their website. They can also be found on social media @LMRSPartners.