VC: Tell us about the Player Sponsorship Program in just a couple of sentences.
Bonesaw: The Player Sponsorship Program accomplishes several of the league's goals all in one: it brings attention and visibility to the individual players in the league; it creates buzz about the rosters and the upcoming season for fans; it provides fans in the community a chance to have some real ownership of the league and their favorite team and players; it gives a personal connection between a sponsor and their player; and, thanks to the work and facilitation by VC Ultimate, it drives up to $13,000 or so towards each team (if they all sell out)! That's enough right there to cover at least one flying road game for each team! As this is a community-funded, Non-Profit league, it hits all the marks!
VC: We’re getting lots of shout-outs on what a great idea this is. Where did it come from?
Bonesaw: The idea came from those programs you'd see at a local zoo where a kid can sponsor their favorite animal for a certain amount, and that money would pay for that animal's food for a year! Last year with the Torch, when I was trying to figure out how to cover all our costs, uniforms seemed to be the biggest cost. My wife Colleen Kepner and I were kicking around ideas late one night and she mentioned that certainly there were enough supporters in Austin for each player to have one supporter cover her uniform. That led to the Zoo analogy and then... there it is! Shortly afterwards, the offer from VC to cover team uniforms for free - and to facilitate this program - meant that the program would be 100% profit, rather than just covering the cost of the uniforms. We sold one per player and raised $4,000 in about 12 hours! It only made sense to apply this league-wide this year!
VC: Why a Player Sponsorship Program and not a Kickstarter or some sort of crowdfunding initiative?
Maddy: While this IS crowdfunding, we wanted to do it in a way that showed unity between all the teams (we are all PULing for each other!). Since PUL is happening no matter what, we didn't want to do a Kickstarter that was contingent upon raising a certain amount of money. And, this is a way to get our community more involved. Each sponsor is investing in a player, a team, and the league. We want our community to feel like this league is truly owned by them. We are creating a product that meets our community's needs, and we will remain accountable to that as long as we are in business!
Bonesaw: Although I see the value in those kind of programs, they always feel a little squishy to me. This kind of program feels less like asking for money and more like a fun game that gives participants a more direct sense of partnership and ownership in the mission and a clear reason and exchange. It's simple and easy - all players cost the same, all the rewards are the same.
VC: What does the Player Sponsorship Program mean to your team/teams in the league?
Maddy: This is so huge for our teams and players. For Atlanta Soul, we have players who have never been to Nationals, or never had to fundraise for Worlds. To get this kind of visibility and recognition, especially since almost every Soul player also coaches, is huge.
Bonesaw: As mentioned above, on a numbers level, selling out this program would cover at least one road game for each team (about $5,000 - $6,000 for a fly-away game) as well as covering each team's $5,000 buy-in to the league. More importantly, it bring excitement and attention to each team's roster and players and gets fans EXCITED to see these players on the field this season. It also builds community excitement and momentum - it feels like the PUL has taken over ultimate-related social media for three days running!
VC: How do you think it’s going so far?
Bonesaw: After 2 days, we're 70% sold-out, and over 550 individual sponsors. That's incredible! Some teams like Atlanta and New York are nearly sold out while some smaller markets still have some availability. Let's get 'em all sold out! Thanks to VC and the entire community for making this work!
Maddy: SWIMMINGLY!!! We are over 70% sold in 2 days, and on one of those days Facebook and Instagram were down! I'm loving all the efforts teams are making to help each other out. I am totally overwhelmed and my expectations have been greatly exceeded!!
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