To build something great, you have to pursue your passion.
As we kick off the third year of business at opendorse, it’s clear that our company has evolved from what we love and what we know: professional sports, social media, marketing, and big data.
To celebrate our official three-year, we created a timeline of events that have helped to shape our company, team, and progress.
2010: a (different) company is formed.
February 2010 | Hurrdat is founded
Still in school at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Co-Founders Blake Lawrence and Adi Kunalic started Hurrdat, a social media agency that would help brands build a digital presence. As collegiate athletes, they understood the appeal and influence that professional athletes held, specifically on social media. Knowing this, they set out to find a solution for athletes and brands to partner via social media.
2011: Athlete Endorsements Go Live
January 2011 | Hurrdathletes.com is launched
Just six months after Hurrdat was launched, the foundation for opendorse was born with the Hurrdat Athlete Engagement Program. The small team launched Hurrdathletes.com with the plan to provide social media services to professional athletes.
February 2011 | First athlete endorsement is processed
On September 19, 2011, the first athlete endorsement went live from then-Hurrdathletes.com. Prince Amukamara, a college teammate and friend of Blake and Adi, became the unofficial opendorse guinea pig during his first NFL season.
2012: opendorse Becomes Reality
February 2012 | Blake joins Pipeline
Blake was invited to join the 2012 Pipeline class, an exclusive community of entrepreneurial leaders, helping other entrepreneurs in building high-growth companies. It was during a Pipeline session that Blake came upon the realization that, while Hurrdat had the potential to be the best social media marketing agency in the region, a digital athlete endorsement platform had the opportunity to be one-of-a-kind not just in the region, but in the world.
March 2012 | 100 athlete endorsements processed
U.S. Men’s soccer star Matt Besler’s tweet for a Kansas City-based sports drink became the one hundredth opendorse-activated endorsement deal.
August 2012 | Original opendorse brand is created
Three years later, the opendorse brand has been tweaked and adjusted, but maintains much of its original identity.
September 2012 | The big reveal and Hurrdat open house
Blake, Adi, and Co-Founder and CTO, Tim Braun, finally announced the upcoming launch of opendorse as the Hurrdat team celebrated its second birthday. The announcement signaled Blake and Tim’s full-time transition to opendorse, with Adi stepping in as Hurrdat’s CEO. While the two companies were technically separating, they would continue to work closely together and share office space for almost two years. Adi would remain as Hurrdat’s CEO until January 2015, when he transitioned into the COO role at opendorse.
November 2012 | SignDat, LLC DBA opendorse is formed
Just weeks after its announcement, opendorse officially became a company.
2013: Platform, Press, and Progress
January 2013 | Hired first employee: ✓
Ben Swift, a developer at Hurrdat, became opendorse’s first official hire. Three years later, Swifty is still a driving force as our VP of Product Development.
April 2013 | The opendorse platform is launched
After years of planning and all-nighter development sessions, the opendorse platform was launched. Today, the platform is continually evolving to provide marketers, agents, and athletes with the best possible endorsement activation tool.
June: 2013 | Named one of Entrepreneur Magazine’s “100 Brilliant Companies”
In its June 2013 issue, Entrepreneur Magazine named opendorse one of ‘100 Brilliant Companies’ in the world. Each year, Entrepreneur searches far and wide to discover businesses dedicated to industry disruption. opendorse joined an elite list of companies young and old, including GitHub, KISSmetrics and MakerBot.
June 2013 | Raised $300 thousand in seed capital
With the help friends, family, and local supporters of entrepreneurship, opendorse was able to secure $300 thousand in seed capital that proved instrumental to the evolution and early progress of the company.
December 2013 | 100 athletes, 100 agents, and 100 brands on the opendorse platform
Another milestone was reached just before the New Year. Months of outreach and deal generation helped the team add one hundred athletes, agents, and brands to the opendorse platform.
2014: Two Partners, Ten Employees, and 1000 Deals
January 2014 | opendorse partners with NFL Players Association
By signing an agreement with the NFLPA, opendorse agreed to power the NFL Players Inc.’s Activate marketplace, providing the business a simple platform to leverage the social media influence of NFL players. The strategic partnership would allow the NFLPI to provide more deals for its players, and opendorse would gain access and insight to of the world’s largest, most influential sports organizations.
May 2014 | Hired tenth employee: ✓
Jun 2014 | 1000 deals completed
— Jordan Larson (@JordanLarson10) June 9, 2014
December 2014 | opendorse partners with the UFC
The UFC has quickly grown to be one of the most media-savvy organizations in sports. In late 2014, opendorse and the UFC partnered in order to more effectively connect UFC athletes with brands and sponsors. We’re looking forward to the many great things to come from this partnership.
2015: Moving Forward
February 2015 | Raised $1.8 million in Series A funding
opendorse kicked off 2015 with a Series A raise led by Flyover Capital.
“We looked at different options in Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles and Silicon Valley before we got in touch with Flyover Capital,” explained Opendorse CEO Blake Lawrence. ”While those firms in other areas wanted us to move to their locations, [Flyover Capital] wanted us to stay put.”
July 2015 | Hired twentieth employee: ✓
October 2015 | 1000 active athletes, 1000 brands on the platform
In just a couple years, we’ve gone from activating deals strictly with our friends and local businesses, to building campaigns with some of the world’s most influential athletes and brands.
Looking back can be hard for a rapidly growing startup. In a business where pitfalls and breakthroughs are a near-daily occurrence, the past tends to get left behind. Still, it’s important to remember the experiences that have shaped our team, culture, and business. In just three years, we’ve occupied three offices, embarked on five lake/ski trips, and powered more than 1,300 athlete endorsements deals. We can only hope the next three years are just as crazy.