Creating opportunity
This Startup Crowdfunded 36 Olympic Dreams in Rio
Erica Roberts | August 19, 2016

Crowdfunding has become increasingly popular across a number of disciplines, with ambitious entrepreneurs, cash-strapped artists and political hopefuls all turning to new online funding portals to raise money to finance their dreams. Thanks to one up-and-coming startup – and with a little help from Coca-Cola and POWERADE – that’s now a possibility for Olympic athletes, too.

In fact, three dozen of them are in Rio right now thanks to crowdfunding.

Started in 2013, Sponsorise.me has emerged as the leading sports-focused crowdfunding site in Europe and recently started gaining popularity in the United States. In short, the site allows fans, friends, family members and any one else to financially back an athlete’s or team’s journey in exchange for unique rewards, ranging from autographed memorabilia to meeting the athletes in person.

Check out an example campaign below:

“Every day, millions of athletes and teams are looking for sponsors to finance their project, and every day, millions of fans are engaged with those teams and athletes on social networks,” Loic Yviquel, CEO and founder of Sponsorise.me, said earlier this month. “We find a way to make these fans engage with their project and transform a $10,000 sponsor into 1,000 fans contributing various amounts to raise $10,000.”

Loic Yviquel

Loic Yviquel, founder of Sponsorise.me.

With a worldwide campaign success rate of 70 percent, the platform can be used for anything from funding Olympic hopefuls and world championship trips to raising money for new equipment for a pee-wee football team.

“It’s really a win-win-win model for the brand, the athlete, and the community,” Yviquel explained. “We add brand exposure to a targeted audience, in addition to a platform to create genuine content and storytelling and an opportunity to engage and expand community.”

RELATED: Team USA’s New Training Partner: Innovative Startups

Recently, the company teamed up with Coca-Cola’s POWERADE division to launch a ‘Fueling Olympians in Rio 2016’ campaign for both Olympic and Paralympic athletes. By joining forces with POWERADE (a long-time sponsor of the Olympics), Sposorise.me has built a sponsorship model that allows brands to reach fans at a grassroots level while at the same time helping athletes achieve their sports dreams with additional support from major corporations and the general public.

As part of the partnership, POWERADE matched public donations up to $400 per Olympic crowdfunding campaign and gave intermittent financial boosts in addition to social media support. When all was said and done, 76 athletes had reached or exceeded their fundraising goals, raising more than $235,000 between them. Of those, 36 athletes qualified for either the Olympics or Paralympics in Rio.

“We not only helped reach athletes and teams, but every athlete’s community of fans, as well,” Bachir Zeroual, Coca-Cola’s global director of marketing ventures, said about his company’s work with Sponsorise.me. “We look to partner with companies that have ideas that can be extended globally and also align with our company values.”