As athletes embrace their roles as content creators and influencers, Curastory hopes to help them monetize their video output. Tuesday, the adtech startup announced a $2.1 million seed round of funding, which followed a deal with the National Basketball Players Association.
Launched in 2019, Curastory helps brands buy batches of personality-recorded ads that can span various social platforms. Athletes who accept a brand deal on the platform record the requested spot and have it natively embedded in their online videos as a brief interruption.
Founder Tiffany Kelly previously spent time with the Miami Heat and ESPN, but felt that athletes weren’t being properly compensated for the material they contribute to digital platforms.
College athletes’ new ability to capitalize on their fame has helped to grow athlete-driven content opportunities as well. While superstars like Derek Jeter and LeBron James are able to build their own media companies, lesser-known athletes are more likely to capitalize directly off their social accounts via branding deals.
Unlike sponsorship marketplaces such as Opendorse, Curastory pitches itself primarily as a creator tool, providing editing and distribution features to athletes in addition to monetization opportunities. Kelly said NBA players Isaiah Thomas, Kelly Olynyk and Langston Galloway have used the technology.
Curastory has its eyes on growing its NBA player pool, as well as expanding in categories like esports and even beyond athletics. “When creators want to learn more about or begin monetizing their content, the goal is for Curastory to be the first name that comes to mind,” Kelly said in a statement.
Lightspeed, Techstars and Mindspring Capital participated in the round, among others. With the new funding, Curastory plans to expand from five full-time staffers to 10, growing its marketing, sales and engineering footprint.