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Starting up a Team - Sponsorship Packages? Logistics? Help?

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Starting up a Team - Sponsorship Packages? Logistics? Help?

Old 10-08-08, 08:54 PM
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Starting up a Team - Sponsorship Packages? Logistics? Help?

Hello -

Things are coming together and it looks like the non-profit on which I am a member of the Board of Directors is setting up a racing team. I'll be co-manager of the team along with another rider, and we'll both be racing... thing is, getting this going, we're looking for sponsors.

To those of you who have experience as team managers (or as sponsors...(pcad)) - could you help me out an offer some insight into getting sponsors as a new, fresh team, and what types of sponsorship packages I could set up?

I'll run down some of the key aspects of the team, some of which may be appealing to a potential sponsor:
  • The LACBC (Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition) represents the entire county of Los Angeles, so ideally we'd like to have sponsors 'evenly spread' throughout the county, and representing "local" businesses of recognition rather than chains.
  • The team ethic/concept is being set up around members of the team being "Diplomats for Cycling in LA County"... and I know I may get flamed for saying this, but it basically comes down to having team members with good attitudes, competitive but not a--holes, and benevolent to all riders, regardless of team, ability, or what they ride. This is something a sponsor may be interested in being associated with. (?)
  • The majority of racers will be Cat 5's, but we're hoping to have a few 3's join in on the team (one of which continually places podium, often in multiple races on the same day). In addition to road, we have a few riders who will be racing Track and Mountain events (even though there's barely anything on the Mountain scene left in SoCal)
  • We're not necessarily looking to get sponsorship from equipment at this point in time - if that is the case, great! If not, no worries. We're assuming that the first few years will be a "Race What You Got" type set up...
  • Jerseys and kits will also be available to the general public for purchase, which both increases the Coalition's visibility as well as the sponsor's, so that's a pretty large incentive as well.
Anyway, can anyone offer some tips? Insights into what sponsorship packages you've put together for your team? What steps/approach do you recommend I do in getting all of this started?

If you PM me, I can get back to you with an e-mail address if you'd like to send PDF or throw some numbers my way. I'd really, really appreciate all the help I can get with this. It's very new, and I'm very excited about this!!

Thanks!

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Old 10-08-08, 09:03 PM
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All I can tell you is that it's difficult to start a team. Racers tend to gravitate towards teams that are already established. Sponsors are hesitant when you can't show any past results or promise anything, and they often want a non-profit number so they can write off whatever they give. My family and some coaches tried to start a junior development team and ran into those problems. I suggest seeing how many people (racers, coaches, and any business connections you and they all have) you can get on board, and run with it. The team I'm currently on had some great start-up ideas which I will PM you about, but even that has it growing very slowly.
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Old 10-08-08, 09:15 PM
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Thanks! I'm looking forward to the PM.

-The LACBC is a well established non-profit (10 years running) and considered by many, especially government agencies of all levels, to be the strongest representation of cyclists in LA County (and, at times, Southern California). We've got a 501c3

-We've got a team coach, already. She has over 13 (maybe 15?) years of racing experience, and has raced for the Amgen team. She's a US Cycling licensed coach...

-The past results thing... yeah, that might be an issue. But hey! Jerseys & kits available for public sale, so there is an increased visibility regardless of it being during a race, a century ride, or training ride...
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Old 10-08-08, 10:02 PM
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Originally Posted by prendrefeu View Post
Jerseys & kits available for public sale, so there is an increased visibility regardless of it being during a race, a century ride, or training ride...
Just make sure to constantly remind members not to act like a-holes (run lights, cut off cars, cuss and show the bird) out there on the streets. Some sponsors actually report getting phone calls from angry people just to say how "you're cyclists" are acting poorly on the streets.
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Old 10-09-08, 06:53 AM
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I tried to have this conversation already. It didn't generate much interest. Start here.

http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php?t=471642
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Old 10-09-08, 07:18 AM
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Me, along with four of my friends, started a new team last year because of our dissatisfaction with the teams that we were on. We secured a number of sponsors that if they didn't sponsor us in cash, sponsored us in-kind (with lots and lots of beer). We got sponsorship from Rudy Project, Crank Bros., but quite possibly the most important sponsor to have is a team shop –*and arrange discounts on items available through them, including bikes, parts, etc.

That said, we're a smaller squad of 25 riders, all Cat. 3-5, mostly concerned with track, cyclocross and MTB racing. Our budget is small and members pick up most of the costs. Since we're only in our first year, we have lots of room to grow and we are for next year. We've already organized and helped run both a time-trial and a cyclocross race. We are now official certified as a team by USAC, which is nice.

The thing is, is that building a team from the ground-up is LOTS of work. More than you would expect, and even more if you're looking to secure substantial sponsorships and large rosters. It's best to have organized and dedicated people, i.e. non-flakes, to run the show. I'm not saying that's something that I've encountered personally, but everyone on the management side of my team has busted their ass for this thing and we feel it shows.

PM me if you have specific questions or if you want to know more.
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Old 10-09-08, 07:33 AM
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Feel free to PM me, I've got a sponsorship proposal that we put together in 2006 that we're updating. I also have a couple of others that I can dig up from other teams that I can send to you for your use (assuming I can find them all).

We're a bit unique in that our title sponsor is a lbs, who gives active members nice discounts on equipment with a bulk pro deal purchase annually, provides merchandise for prizes for our road race, and prioritizes mechanical work/assistance for active members.

Downside of an lbs title sponsor is that we dont have a frame sponsor, a shoe sponsor, a group set or wheel sponsor, etc., we just have discounts on things the lbs deals. I'm not sure how to pursue those types of items, it's not been in our focus.

Securing sponsors is tough work. The first key is to divide your sponsor prospects into two piles. One pile of potentials is already connected to the sport. You know this routine. Bob of Bob's Orthodontist shop is a Cat III so he might want to get involved. Greg of Gregs chiropractic bonecracking office, etc. .....you get the idea. That's the easy way in as most of those types of riders want to support the sport anyway and getting a "return" may not hold much priority. These are good targets usually for smaller sponsorship levels.

The second pile of prospects may have never been to a race. This is the tricky lot. Pick your candidates carefully. Healthfood stores, Juice shops, chiropractic doctors, Restaurants, gyms, and other businesses that likely have cyclists as current or potential customers are ideal. Hitting up a feed your face buffet may not be a good idea, but perhaps hitting up a restaurant or coffe shop or similar in the area you all frequent might be a better move. Then tie in that restaurant to the racing SCENE...not just the team. If you have a restaurant as a sponsor have a race registration in their parking lot. That'll generate them some business in return for their sponsorship $$, which is the goal. Make sure they know that racers that otherwise would not have made it to that restaurant, are there as a result of their sponsorship $$. Same thing for other businesses.

Another approach is to ask your potential sponsors what would be an ideal return on say a $1000 marketing effort? Do you think your team can generate that return?

I think the key is to never go to a prospective sponsor empty handed. NEVER. Take a proposal, if you have the skillset in your group of core members, put together a short DVD with cool high lights of previous season's with testimonials from previous sponsors if you can get 'em. Our print material has glossy photos and bios of the riders. Results? They don't always mean much to non-cycling sponsors, but get'em on there. Push the exposure more than the results. Also need to have some info from the industry about the average age and salary of today's garden variety cyclist. We like to impress apon our potential sponsors that this isn't dirt track racing. This is big money, high commitment racing from people with disposable money to huck around.

As they say, cycling is the new golf!
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Old 10-09-08, 07:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Doctor Who View Post
Me, along with four of my friends, started a new team last year because of our dissatisfaction with the teams that we were on. We secured a number of sponsors that if they didn't sponsor us in cash, sponsored us in-kind (with lots and lots of beer). We got sponsorship from Rudy Project, Crank Bros., but quite possibly the most important sponsor to have is a team shop *and arrange discounts on items available through them, including bikes, parts, etc.

That said, we're a smaller squad of 25 riders, all Cat. 3-5, mostly concerned with track, cyclocross and MTB racing. Our budget is small and members pick up most of the costs. Since we're only in our first year, we have lots of room to grow and we are for next year. We've already organized and helped run both a time-trial and a cyclocross race. We are now official certified as a team by USAC, which is nice.

The thing is, is that building a team from the ground-up is LOTS of work. More than you would expect, and even more if you're looking to secure substantial sponsorships and large rosters. It's best to have organized and dedicated people, i.e. non-flakes, to run the show. I'm not saying that's something that I've encountered personally, but everyone on the management side of my team has busted their ass for this thing and we feel it shows.

PM me if you have specific questions or if you want to know more.



I'd have to disagree with this. You need to have an affiliation with a shop, or some kind of sponsorship , but a shop is the least able to offer what you really need which is cash.

The most important kind of sponsor to have is a non-industry sponsor. That way they can't offer you sponsorship in kind. It's gotta be cold, hard cash. With cash you have the most flexibility to support your team in the way that is most applicable to you.

Check out the link I posted. There are some suggestions as to how to accomplish this there.
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Old 10-09-08, 07:47 AM
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You know what, this thread would be an EXCELLENT candidate for a sticky. It would have been tremendously helpful last May when I was starting the club up here at UA.

I will put in my personal experiences with starting the team up in a bit, now I have work to do. I highly encourage anyone with team leadership/officer experience to put their experience down in this thread. It would help everyone.
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Old 10-09-08, 08:00 AM
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^^
+1, me and a friend of mine started a team at Stevens Institute and got a full team out this past spring racing. It was our first season and next season we have picked up 5 new riders and picked up a few sponsorships. PM me and i will give you a good guide line on how to go about it.
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Old 10-09-08, 08:19 AM
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You got a PM. I also forgot to mention that you need someone with a knowledge of business as well. As much as I think my team owner has all good wishes towards his members and the future of cycling, I think his team could do much better if he had someone advising him on the business decisions.
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Old 10-09-08, 09:28 AM
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I think it wold also be important for identify what kind of team you would like to create.

Starting a club team, where riders still pay for many of the expenses, is quite different from a team where riders draw a stipend and the manager a salary. This affects your bottom line, the sort of sponsors you approach, their expectations and a thousand things more.

I can't say this enough times; Don't go to your lbs and expect anything more than a discount. There are exceptions but they are very rare.

If you want product sponsors you need to learn a little about how the industry works.

Don't think that races are much use in terms of promotion. They aren't unless you are talking about ToC, Superweek or something of that caliber. There is very little promotional value at a Cat5 parking lot crit for any sponsor outside of a local bicycle products related sponsor.

Scale. Don't talk to an international insurance company about a $1000 sponsorship. It isn't worth their time.

Riders. Riders will come and go, rise and fall, but without management or structure you won't be able to sustain a team.

Contact. Keep those who have direct contact with the sponsor to a minimum. Unless they are truly interested in the sport keep them apprised of results and present a year end report but don't call them every week just to chat. Chances are they are busy running their business and aren't really all that interested in taking yet another phone call from yet another member of your team. Designate someone to be the official contact and keep it that way.

I'll leave it there for now.
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Old 10-09-08, 09:30 AM
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If any of you guys need a mechanic...
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Old 10-09-08, 09:30 AM
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Originally Posted by prendrefeu View Post
Hello -

Things are coming together and it looks like the non-profit on which I am a member of the Board of Directors is setting up a racing team. I'll be co-manager of the team along with another rider, and we'll both be racing... thing is, getting this going, we're looking for sponsors.

To those of you who have experience as team managers (or as sponsors...(pcad)) - could you help me out an offer some insight into getting sponsors as a new, fresh team, and what types of sponsorship packages I could set up?

I'll run down some of the key aspects of the team, some of which may be appealing to a potential sponsor:
  • The LACBC (Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition) represents the entire county of Los Angeles, so ideally we'd like to have sponsors 'evenly spread' throughout the county, and representing "local" businesses of recognition rather than chains.
  • The team ethic/concept is being set up around members of the team being "Diplomats for Cycling in LA County"... and I know I may get flamed for saying this, but it basically comes down to having team members with good attitudes, competitive but not a--holes, and benevolent to all riders, regardless of team, ability, or what they ride. This is something a sponsor may be interested in being associated with. (?)
  • The majority of racers will be Cat 5's, but we're hoping to have a few 3's join in on the team (one of which continually places podium, often in multiple races on the same day). In addition to road, we have a few riders who will be racing Track and Mountain events (even though there's barely anything on the Mountain scene left in SoCal)
  • We're not necessarily looking to get sponsorship from equipment at this point in time - if that is the case, great! If not, no worries. We're assuming that the first few years will be a "Race What You Got" type set up...
  • Jerseys and kits will also be available to the general public for purchase, which both increases the Coalition's visibility as well as the sponsor's, so that's a pretty large incentive as well.
Anyway, can anyone offer some tips? Insights into what sponsorship packages you've put together for your team? What steps/approach do you recommend I do in getting all of this started?

If you PM me, I can get back to you with an e-mail address if you'd like to send PDF or throw some numbers my way. I'd really, really appreciate all the help I can get with this. It's very new, and I'm very excited about this!!

Thanks!
You probably won't find anything less profitable than a cycling team, so carry on...
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Old 10-09-08, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Coyote2 View Post
You probably won't find anything less profitable than a cycling team, so carry on...
Ok. That's funny.
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Old 10-09-08, 12:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Bob Dopolina View Post
I tried to have this conversation already. It didn't generate much interest. Start here.

http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php?t=471642
Great link, thanks!
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Old 10-09-08, 03:58 PM
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I'm at a small university starting a club. The biggest challenge is finding time where people can ride together. That's not to mention whether they will ride or not. All we need is money to race, we have a few people interested, but organization is hard with random college schedules. To race, the club needs to remain active, so I need to go out and ride with slower people to keep interest up. It's all a bit frustrating. I think I'm going to miss this weekend's ride because no one shows up and I want to go to the mountains. I'm going to be fit and I'm going to race. If anyone wants to come with me, they better find their own time to train. Some team huh? lol I'm going to calm down now.
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Old 10-10-08, 11:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Bob Dopolina View Post
I can't say this enough times; Don't go to your lbs and expect anything more than a discount. There are exceptions but they are very rare.

Don't think that races are much use in terms of promotion. They aren't unless you are talking about ToC, Superweek or something of that caliber. There is very little promotional value at a Cat5 parking lot crit for any sponsor outside of a local bicycle products related sponsor.

Riders. Riders will come and go, rise and fall, but without management or structure you won't be able to sustain a team.
These are excellent points and need to be taken seriously. My team started 3 years ago as a few guys who rode bikes together and wanted to race, along with several guys who were away from racing for a few years. The first year all they did was race under the same name(a local club to which they belonged). In 2007 they decided to get more serious and become a "real" amateur team. This is also when I got into bike racing and became more involved in the team.

We don't believe our sponsors are sponsoring us for publicity, the only people watching most of our races are the local Amish and the family of the racers, no one's gonna see Carsense on my kit and say, hmm I think I'll buy a car from them. Our sponsors get involved because we are a local team promoting a healthy lifestyle and is good for the community, not to mention they can write off their sponsorship.

We have different levels of sponsorship, depending on how much we get depends on the location and size of the logo on our kits as well as signs at our races and events we put on.

The LBS does not give us money, they get us deals on bikes and give us discounts on products.

We have a team board, this is crucial for continuing success and organization.

Good luck!
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Old 10-15-08, 05:58 PM
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Bumpity bump bump

This thread has too much useful information for this time of year to let it die.

If you want to start a new team for '09, or get new sponsors for an existing team, NOW is the time.

Everyone is setting their '09 budgets right now so this is when you need to get penciled in.

There is also lead time for delivery of sponsored products and for inking jerseys.

Ah uniforms...the bane of my existence...

First you have to secure all your sponsors and agree on placement. This also means getting camera ready artwork from them and agreeing on colours, fonts etc. This can take time. Only after this is completed can you order kit.

This time of year expect AT LEAST a 6-8 week lag between placing a clothing order and receiving the kit.

Set a date as your target date to launch your team. Don't wait until spring when racing starts. Do it in a slow month like Jan or Feb so that you can get coverage in a magazine, newspaper or (the BIGGIE) on TV. You need to promote your team (sponsor's names) as much as possible so doing it at this time is bonus coverage.

This date is the date you need to have kit ready. Work backwards from there and lay out the other deadlines like product, roster, staff and when you need other equipment to be ready like team car, frames, wheels etc. Make sure you present this information to each product sponsor and hope that they deliver on time.

Enough for now.
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Old 10-15-08, 07:09 PM
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