It certainly helps to have Steph Curry on your side, either on the court or in the startup world.
The 29-year-old sharpshooting NBA star — who is also a talented golfer and made his professional debut this week — is the co-founder of Slyce, a Bay Area-based startup founded in 2015 that we covered last year.
Slyce originally launched as a platform that helped athletes and celebrities sort through social media noise and increase engagement with their most loyal fans.
But Slyce co-founder Bryant Barr, a former college hoops teammate of Curry and long-time friend, told GeekWire that his 8-person company pivoted last summer — with the help of Curry — and is now focused on marketing automation around brand ambassador partnerships. The startup is seeing solid traction from a variety of customers and “has a clear path to monetization,” Barr said.
It also just got a nice marketing boost from Curry, who put Slyce in the spotlight during his recent cameo on the new season of HBO’s Ballers.
For his brief 1-minute scene on the season premiere last month, Curry chats on the phone with Ballers star Dwayne Johnson (a.k.a. The Rock) while walking on an airport tarmac toward an Under Armour jet with his wife. He dons a Slyce t-shirt throughout the scene and even gives his company a shout-out.
“We’ll be in Miami for the night, we should get together and do something,” Curry tells Spencer Strasmore, a financial manager for athletes played by Johnson. “We could even talk some business, too, you know my Slyce digital media company.”
Barr said Curry invited him to the Ballers set but he didn’t know how much Slyce would be apart of the scene until he arrived.
“Steph did an awesome job of being able to pull us in,” Barr said. “Those are the things that make it unique to work with someone like Steph.”
Curry not only helps with marketing, but as a founder and investor, he’s involved in many of the company’s core business decisions.
One example of this came this past summer when Slyce made its pivot. Barr explained that while the company saw traction with its app that helped celebrities manage their social media interactions, it was difficult to get enough talent using the platform consistently.
While building the original product, Barr and his colleagues noticed how celebrities like Curry were required to push out content on social media every month as part of multiple brand ambassador deals they inked.
But the entire process of creating content, sending it to the ambassador, and getting them to post it properly — both on the celebrity side and on the brand side — seemed cumbersome and antiquated. Instead of a centralized location and a few buttons required to complete these tasks, it was instead an unorganized workflow of email threads, Twitter messages, Dropbox links, Instagram captions, and more. There was also rarely a way for brands to make sure their celebrities were adhering to their contracts.
“It was a lot of conversations with Steph that eventually sparked a lightbulb,” Barr said.
While the new Slyce platform makes life easier for celebrities like Curry, who is using the app more now than he did with the previous iteration, the company is focused on selling to brands that need to manage their ambassador relationships. It has customers ranging from professional sports franchises, to universities, to music labels, to consumer brands.
Beyond improving workflow, Barr noted that Slyce can also provide brands and celebrities with new data about how specific campaigns perform and the value created for both sides.
“What Salesforce has done with CRM and sales, we think Slyce could do for brand sponsorships and ambassador relationships,” Barr said. “The workflow is important, but the data analytics and insights we drive are even more important.”
The company is now looking to close another round of investment to amp up its sales efforts. Longer term, Barr said Slyce is thinking about the authenticity of personal content and the fake advertising aspect of branded content.
“We want to help both brands and talent close that gap,” he noted.
Curry, meanwhile, is one of several pro athletes — including many of his Warriors teammates — who are active with off-the-court investments and startups. The two-time MVP is involved with other tech-related endeavors, like Boston-based CoachUp, which connects high school and college athletes with private coaches, and PressPlay, a startup that helps celebrities grow their brands across the globe.
Curry tees it up today in the second round of the Web.com Tour’s Ellie Mae Classic; he shot an 2-over 74 on Thursday.
— Under Armour Golf (@UAGolf) August 3, 2017