Partner Spotlight: Unlock Athlete Revenue & Fan Connection via Tokens
Innovative organizations like OpenLocker are discovering new ways to engage with audiences by leveraging the power of blockchain.
When it comes to understanding the ability of blockchain to forge connections between communities and the people or products they love, OpenLocker is consistently cracking the code.
OpenLocker is a sports-centered digital collectible and NFT platform that allows fans to engage with their favorite athletes, while also providing athletes with unique opportunities to increase their Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) revenue. Co-founders Brian and Lauren Klatsky began the company with a philosophy that regards digital collectibles and NFTs as a utility. Fans can purchase collectibles or NFTs that can unlock exclusive challenges, rewards, or even access to events. Simultaneously, athletes receive the lion’s share of proceeds from these sales, giving them more power over their NIL.
OpenLocker has successfully created a path to greatness for athletes and provided exciting moments for their fans. We had a chance to ask Lauren Klatsky and the team a few questions about the business and their thoughts on the blockchain.
Read the interview below.
Q. Can you share a bit about the origin of OpenLocker and how the team came together?
“Our team has previous experience in sports marketing, electronic training, and grassroots sports. It was the combination of our relationships, a like-minded view on the future of NIL, and the potential of blockchain that led to the founding of OpenLocker.”
Q. What is it about digital collectibles and NFTs that interests you so much?
“Well, it mainly stems from our interest in the blockchain and the advantages that the technology brings to the collectibles industry. For us, we’ve unlocked the ability for digital collectibles to act as access tickets to utility. Blockchain gives us the ability to authenticate an asset and add real value.
You already see event ticketing migrating to the blockchain and adopting some best practices developed by the creators of digital collectibles. We believe that blockchain will continue revolutionizing other sectors in the near future.”
Q. NIL opportunities with college athletes are a relatively new thing. How are you navigating the initial stages, from uncertainty about legality to communications with athletes and/or their families and representation?
“We are erring on the side of caution and being very diligent regarding state laws, NCAA guidelines, school compliance, and representation. Our legal team is one of our greatest strengths. We are also very focused on protecting IP and not infringing upon other rights.
Our contracts are mostly non-exclusive and allow the athletes the freedom they need to maximize their NIL.”
“We treat athletes as entrepreneurs. We explain the opportunity and how digital collectibles can be used to monetize their NIL.”
Q. The relationship you develop with your athletes is very compelling. What do you think other businesses can learn from how you work with the talent?
“We treat athletes as entrepreneurs. We explain the opportunity and how digital collectibles can be used to monetize their NIL. Our team provides marketing resources and invites athletes to customize offerings for their fan bases.
There isn’t necessarily a one-to-one relationship between an athlete’s social following and their NIL earnings. Understanding how to reach fan bases and motivate people to support their favorite athletes is key. We’ve seen athletes with smaller social media followings earn more than star players with a ton of likes. Setting the expectation that a team effort will increase earnings is probably one of the most important takeaways.”
Q. You prioritize fan engagement. What are some ways that businesses can create this engagement and interactivity with collectibles that are relatively easy to adopt, without having to dive entirely into complicated web3 structures?
“Web3 can become easy to adopt with tokens like those we create for athletes and PFPs (picture for proof) collectibles.”
Q. What might you say to businesses that worry about whether the juice is worth the squeeze, monetarily, regarding blockchain and digital collectibles?
“Yes, it’s still in its infancy. If the utility and art are great, it will be worth it. If it doesn’t make sense for a particular business or business objective, then it probably isn’t. You have to do the strategic background work to ensure that a blockchain strategy fits your objectives and can be consumed by your audiences.”
“One way to bridge the gap between consumers and blockchain is to engage with your target audience directly prior to launch. We’ve hosted Twitter Spaces and Instagram Live events and addressed audience questions on podcasts.”
Q. You’ve mentioned it’s important to bridge the gap between consumers and technology. What are some ways to achieve this?
“One way to bridge the gap between consumers and blockchain is to engage with your target audience directly prior to launch. We’ve hosted Twitter Spaces and Instagram Live events and addressed audience questions on podcasts. Those recordings can then be shared and posted on the platform as a resource for anyone visiting the site. Our social media team also provides rapid responses to queries that come in that way.”
Q. Can you share a story or two about the experiences you’ve delivered to your holders?
“One of our favorite moments was when we had an Epicenter NFT holder share his experiences on Travers Day at Saratoga on the In The Money Players’ Podcast.
The NFT holder, Randy, won a pair of paddock passes to see Epicenter before the Travers Stakes, one of the biggest races of the summer season. Randy shared that his wife was more than happy to stay home, so he asked dozens of friends before one finally agreed to join him.
Epicenter won the race, so he was invited to the Winner’s Circle afterward. He admitted, on air, that he was in the bathroom during the race. But then, after getting into the Winner’s Circle, he followed the owner and the horses’ other close connections into the champagne room and had a toast with everyone.
Randy had the time of his life and is now a huge racing fan. We love that story because it shows the entire arc of OpenLocker participant to complete experience.”
OpenLocker continues to create new experiences in the world of sports and blockchain. Ask yourself if your organization can benefit from leveraging NFTs as a utility in order to grant consumers access to new experiences.