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Old 10-28-07, 07:21 PM   #1
MrCrassic 
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Collegiate Cycling and Sponsorships?

Hey, everyone.

I know that there have been posts here about collegiate cycling and sponsorships (separately), but I was hoping to post this for some more directed advice.

I am joining a team that, for all intents and purposes, is just starting. I can't really gauge my skill level since I've only been doing road cycling for 4 or 5 months (I've been biking in general for about 6 or more), but I seem to have no problem averaging over 20 mph on the flats for long periods of time (finally hit 30 on them!). All of the people on my team seem somewhat experienced in different categories (one is a really good climber, another is great on the flats, and I'm trying to work to become a good sprinter).

However, our school gave us very little money to start out (not enough to get anything more than skinsuits for us with artwork), so we have no choice but to ask for sponsors. So if there's anyone who is on a successful college team or has been on one, what do you recommend us as a team can do to win some sponsors? We are already getting our name out to the campus through fundraisers and possible events and group rides. I am already in the process of making a cover letter to present to the company I work for (very large international financial services firm), as well as manufacturers, shops, and anyone else who might seem to be good candidates.

As I always add, any advice or suggestions are highly appreciated. Thanks in advance!

P.S. Yes, we know that we will be facing some serious competition ahead. We are going to get serious training schedules in place to prepare for Sparta :-D
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Old 10-28-07, 07:40 PM   #2
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However, our school gave us very little money to start out (not enough to get anything more than skinsuits for us with artwork)
Use that money for other things. Buy your own jerseys. Well maybe just use some of that money for the artwork setup fee but you shouldn't use it to score free clothes.

Club sports at my college states that anything purchased with club funds are the property of the university, so check into that.
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Old 10-28-07, 07:48 PM   #3
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We already bought the jerseys and are considering artwork.

We are tryign to get sponsorship money for everything else. For example, we are considering upgrading drivetrains on the bikes of team members who do not have "race-level" bikes (like mine) instead of automatically going for new bikes (even though we are working on getting team bikes in the future).
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Old 10-28-07, 08:11 PM   #4
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WOW

my team got like a total of 500 bucks from our school, we dont use it for jerseys because too many people would just take the jerseys and never race. we dont get parts either. use the money to pay for hotels and entry fees! if someone crashes a bike and wrecks the drivetrain or something, then what? buy your own bike, and use the money for the race expenses.

we have about 10 sponsors, most of which just give us really good deals on equipment. we have 2 or 3 monetary sponsors, that is about all. when it really comes down to it, a better bike isnt going to win you all races, its having a better engine. "race-level" is VERY subjective - i spent my first months on the bike on a 200 dollar pos, and considered racing it!
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Old 10-28-07, 08:14 PM   #5
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Before you do the artwork, get the sponsors. You should be selling locations on the jersey (chest and back are top $, sleeves are next, then back pockets and side panels). Work your club name in there as dictated by organization rules, then go from there. Negotiate with the sponsors (discounts from a bike shop will be better than a few hundred $), and offer them something in return that they will actually want (a 4" logo isn't all that appealing by itself). You really want to get a sponsorship from a shop, maybe a bike brand or wheel brand if possible. Use any connections from the members for the rest, as your dad's boss is more likely to sponsor you than some Italian restaurant you find in the yellow pages.

edit: oh yeah, and sell those jerseys to the members. The money in your fund should be used to reimburse entry fees and maybe travelling expenses (that encourages them to actually race)
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Old 10-28-07, 08:20 PM   #6
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I'd read the other threads about collegiate cycling. Almost all of them include information about how teams procure sponsorships, get money, etc.

I have to say that I wouldn't give team money to any specific individuals. If people want help with procuring parts, you guys need to send in sponsorship proposals to everyone you can think of, and hope you get some deals. Not money, deals. You'll get a certain discount level, that will increase over time if your team gets bigger and gets better results. Our team got prices that would rival some shop employees' deals. We had a bike sponsor (who also had a HUGE catalog of components, etc), a tool sponsor, a component/wheel sponsor, a food sponsor, a training supply sponsor, and others.

If you or anyone else want more specific information, feel free to PM me.
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Old 10-29-07, 03:58 AM   #7
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We already bought the jerseys and are considering artwork.
Erm, how does that work?
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Old 10-29-07, 06:34 AM   #8
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Erm, how does that work?
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Old 10-29-07, 07:26 AM   #9
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they are just going to use iron-ons
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Old 10-29-07, 09:11 AM   #10
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Well, that should save them on the "artwork" lol
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Old 11-02-07, 03:28 PM   #11
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collegiate or not cycling is expensive. team members should understand that.

+1 on money going to entry fees and hotels. Equipment is the problem of the members (hopefully a deal with a shop will help, but there is no "free ride")
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Old 11-02-07, 03:48 PM   #12
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they are just going to use iron-ons
I kinda have a hard time imagining that working on a stretchy lycra jersey... Though maybe it does...
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Old 11-02-07, 04:00 PM   #13
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I kinda have a hard time imagining that working on a stretchy lycra jersey... Though maybe it does...
sorry, i figured the /sarcasm was obviously implied...
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Old 11-02-07, 04:04 PM   #14
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It's very hard to actually get money from sponsorships at this level. Most sponsors for collegiate teams only provide discounts on merchandise and service. Ways to make money: 1.Get lots of people to join your team and charge dues to gain access to any sponsorship discounts you can get. 2.fund raiser event/race to make money. It will be tough. Talk to your local shops to see what kind of deals they can get you. Don't expect anyone to throw money at you even if you get good. UC Davis has won Collegiate Nationals several times and we still struggle with funding.
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Old 11-02-07, 04:09 PM   #15
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Some suggestions, coming from someone who's been there. I've asked sponsors for money, negotiated with shop reps, essentially restarted and ran a collegiate team (UCONN), managed a shop that had a team (and run the team), owned a shop that had a team (and ran the team), and now have a tiny team that has no shop (and virtually no sponsorship at this moment). I've also asked for stuff for a race series I've promoted for 15 years as well as misc individual races or events.

Sponsors you don't know want to make money on the money they give you. Some of it is not measurable (getting the name out) but some is (coupons, unique phone numbers for ads relating to your team). They are a business, not a charity! Keep that in mind whenever you deal with them.

Sponsors who know you are giving you stuff because they don't have the heart to say no. It's like asking for a birthday present from a friend. Kind of weird but people do it.

Sometimes people get caught up in giving you sponsorship. The company I work for has two partners and they were asking me about my races and I showed them pictures. We give away a leader's jersey which makes the overall fight very fierce. They asked if they could be on the jersey - I told them next year. They gave me thousands of dollars (cash!) over a few years to be on the jersey. And I never asked them for anything. We used the money to redesign the jersey. We hired the guy that did the Saeco team jerseys, Spinergy, Sobe, etc, and we used the rest of the money to pay various permit fees and race costs (portapotties etc). The race website is the biggest source for hits on their website so they think giving us money is great.

Anyway, think of the following:

1. If you ask someone you don't know for money, you need to be able to show them some kind of return. If I had a business and had a choice between, say, buying $100 worth of roast beef for deli sandwiches for tomorrow's lunchtime rush and giving $100 to a bike club, guess which one I'd buy? As a business I'd think about which one makes me more money.

2. Make sure you don't get too much negative publicity for your sponsor. I guess the Festina doping thing was okay (as was Phonak), at least for business, , but they're international companies. If you get yelled at or honked at regularly locally, no one's going to want to be associated with you. One shop's team got banned from riding in a town after they flipped off the Chief of Police (he was in an unmarked car). Good for business? No way. Make it clear to the sponsor that this will not be the case with your team.

This makes the sponsorship hunt seem pretty negative, right? I mean how does a team earn money for its sponsors? You're not out there waiting tables or having tag sales or anything.

There's hope.

Cash is precious - it's unusual to get cash. But you can get a lot of what you want or need to race from sponsors through equipment and discounts.

1. Bike shops. Approach your local shop and ask for a discount in return for the name on the jersey (maybe they pay for the artwork on the jersey, perhaps if they really like the jersey they can sell them). You want to get the riders used to going there, recommending others to go there, etc. Choose a shop you like if you're in a town with a lot of bike shops.

2. Once you have an in at the shop, ask them to ask their vendors for deals. Virtually all big manufacturers have some kind of "club deal". You order 10 or 20 of whatever (helmets, shoes, shorts, pumps, pairs of tires, etc etc), you get them in matching colors, and you get a serious break on price. One helmet manufacturer sold $150 or so retail helmets for $40 to the shop for its team - that's more than half off wholesale. This doesn't mean anything is free but it's still a good deal and helps make you a "team". Usually the deal is the team pays up front, the shop pays upfront, you get an early batch, and you're all set.

3. Bikes are virtually never on the amateur sponsor list, at least for free. You might get a deal on a mass purchase though (see #2 above). A domestic pro team I know of gets "free" bikes - but the rider has to return his three bikes or pay for them at the end of the year. A pro/1 women's team around here had no bike sponsorship - they all ride their own bikes. Framesets maybe - again, a discount on frames pre-ordered for the team, but you go through the shop. The idea is the manufacturer wants to get the shop involved so you go and patronize the shop (and the shop buys more of the manufacturer's bikes, and so on). This means you don't say to the shop "Dude that's a ripoff - I can get it cheaper on eBay". What the shop doesn't need is to have the beggars they're helping get mad at them. Not worth the trouble to essentially give money to someone to have them yell at you. Maybe in one of those dominatrix houses but not in a bike shop.

4. Energy bar/drink/gel etc - the local reps usually have some freebie budget - usually for sample sizes and such. They'll really give you a lot of stuff if you hold a race. We got a 2000 pound pallet from an energy bar manufacturer for a 6 week series of races - 2000 pounds! That's a freaking lot of stuff. Even with 300-450 racers a week we couldn't give it all away. We gave away boxes of the stuff at every race, gave them away at registration, and used it personally for the year the stuff was still unexpired. Think of other opportunities - new sodas or drinks, new bars, etc.

The last item is important - holding a race. If you can hold a race, get other people to come and pay to race, and don't give all of the money away (as far as I know, prize money in collegiate racing is forbidden), then you'll make some cash money. Give it back to the promoter (hopefully one of the members) and whoever helped the promoter (marshals, registration desk, course sweeper, etc), either in a big pizza party, pay for some team gear, etc. The rest goes to the bank account to start off next year's race, team, and whatnot. Buy a loudspeaker or a registration tent or something you needed to borrow this year to make the race happen. In 5 or 6 years the team will own all the stuff it needs to hold a race and hundreds of eager collegiate racers will stream to your course every year to pay the team money and race on the course. It's hard work holding a race, more than you'd ever think.

I have a rule about people who complain at races - only those who have promoted a race before can complain. Everyone else should hold their own race first, figure out a way to address the complaint, and then suggest it to the promoter that doesn't do it. If you go to a race and start to open your mouth to complain, stop, think, and start thinking about promoting your own race first. Then you can go back and complain your head off.

Whatever you do, don't expect something for nothing. If you sour any relationship (with the shop, a manufacturer, local sponsors, promoters, the school) you're screwing not only yourself but many years of future cycling club members as well.

btw this is about as late in the year as you want to start as far as a sponsorship hunt goes. By January the money is gone. Call your local shops now (or better yet, talk to the owners after you buy a tube or a pump or booties or something).

good luck,
cdr
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Old 11-02-07, 05:19 PM   #16
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FYI, the amount a college team can charge is $12, if memory serves, and $10 goes to the team.

Again, just FYI.
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Old 11-02-07, 05:39 PM   #17
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Go to your university careers service. See what big companies without ethics statements are trying to buy the souls of your fellow students.

We've got two big investment banks hanging around sponsoring heaps of stuff at my university - nearly every competitive sporting club is sponsored by KPMG or Deloitte (with a few by Aggregate) - and some intra-university teams have sponsorship too. Maybe there are some companies looking for name recognition amongst your student body - they'd quite fancy you standing around in a campus parking lot before rides with their company logo plastered all over your bodies.

Also talk to your alumni or development office to see if there are any good corporate connections to be made there.

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Old 11-02-07, 05:47 PM   #18
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2. Make sure you don't get too much negative publicity for your sponsor. I guess the Festina doping thing was okay (as was Phonak), at least for business, , but they're international companies. If you get yelled at or honked at regularly locally, no one's going to want to be associated with you. One shop's team got banned from riding in a town after they flipped off the Chief of Police (he was in an unmarked car). Good for business? No way. Make it clear to the sponsor that this will not be the case with your team.
Although your entire post was great, I wanted to add to this that I have talked with company owners who have pulled sponsorship because they received phone calls from people angry at the way someone acted while wearing their banner (this relates to both cycling teams and street driven race cars)
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Old 11-03-07, 06:25 AM   #19
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Since noone has mentioned it your schools logo has to be the largest thing on your jersey for collegiate racing. Keep that in mind when doing the artwork.

Also hit up bussiness owning cycling alums. Cash isn't as hard to get as some people seem to think once you start looking outside the bike industry.
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Old 11-03-07, 06:42 AM   #20
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for all intents and purposes
On an unrelated note, thank you for stating this phrase correctly.
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Old 11-03-07, 09:26 AM   #21
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we are thinking about organizing a campus alleycat. the halloween alleycat had 90 people, at 5$ a piece, which is almost 500 bucks. maybe we will spend a hundred on prizes, see if we can get some beer donated or something for the afterpart, and bam, thats 400 bucks, or about 20 race entries.
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Old 11-03-07, 09:48 AM   #22
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we are thinking about organizing a campus alleycat. the halloween alleycat had 90 people, at 5$ a piece, which is almost 500 bucks. maybe we will spend a hundred on prizes, see if we can get some beer donated or something for the afterpart, and bam, thats 400 bucks, or about 20 race entries.
They can't charge more than $12 at college events.
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Old 11-03-07, 10:29 AM   #23
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in that case, like 35 entries! thats good to know though, i havnt raced any of the college races yet, so im glad to hear that they are cheap in case we run out of money.

our team contract says we are supposed to do local races as well to raise visibility and hopefully bring in some more sponsorships, and if money allows, the team will cover entry fees to those events as well.
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Old 11-26-07, 02:41 PM   #24
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We pay all of our own entry fees ($10-12 a race and $30 for an annual license).

I think the university bought all of the kits years ago, but once this year I had to share a jersey (luckily I've got my own blue shorts). The university has reimbursed everyone for gas and hotels this mountain season though, which was great.

This is my first year cycling, and I think we don't normally do many of the road races (like none last year). But I'm really hoping to do some races even if it's out of my own pocket just because I love road biking (my singletrack skills are pretty lame).
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Old 11-26-07, 08:33 PM   #25
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charlie you should contact mitchell kirsting, our captain, maybe you could meet up with us and carpool up with us to some of the further away races during road season. www.ukycycling.org
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