A Letter from CEO Blake Lawrence: Introducing Opendorse Ready™ — The NIL Readiness Program


Ready for the Future

Today, Nebraska Athletics announced its plan to be the first athletic department to provide a tangible solution to help every student-athlete prepare for the coming changes to Name, Image and Likeness policies in collegiate sports.

This announcement brings me tremendous joy — not only because Nebraska is my alma mater, or that their partner in this endeavor is Opendorse, the athlete marketing platform I co-founded with my college teammate Adi Kunalic in 2012…

But because the initiative isn’t just a ‘check the box’ solution. This isn’t something built to capture buzz and attention. That isn’t the Nebraska way.

This is real. 

This is rooted in proven, powerful solutions.

This is built to last.

The vision Nebraska Athletics has for developing an NIL solution for current and future student-athletes is as inspiring as the time Nebraska introduced collegiate sports to the importance of strength and conditioning.

Back then, they didn’t just build a weight room. They built a movement. They transformed everything about student-athlete development, providing a blueprint for success that would be replicated throughout the country. 

Nebraska didn’t just sign up for a new software. They started a movement. They found a partner that has transformed the athlete marketing industry, providing the infrastructure for success that can help student-athletes throughout the country. 

I’m proud of my alma mater for making the first move. 

But I’m more proud to know this program is built with purpose. 

Because I know firsthand how important it is for a program to have real purpose behind it.

Today, Adi and I are incredibly proud to introduce Opendorse Ready™ — the NIL Readiness Program.

The Name, Image, and Likeness Readiness Program

The foundation of successful strength and conditioning program are also the pillars of a winning sports program:

Assessment, Education, Performance. 

All three are needed to get a new program off the ground and repeating each phase is critical to ensure ongoing success. 

This is the experience Adi and I went through at Nebraska. Our head coach didn’t just send us into the weight room and expect results. He found the best strength coach in the country and built a program that would maximize the value of the weight room for everyone on the team. 

It just so happens that the foundation of a successful Name, Image and Likeness Program are the same pillars of a winning sports program.

As Name, Image and Likeness policy changes come to collegiate sports, there will be a newfound rush to find ways to win recruiting battles. Each institution will seek ways to tell current and prospective student-athletes that their school will have the best NIL preparedness solution in the country. It will be similar to the surge of weight rooms in athletics facilities in the 1970s. 

When Nebraska set the standard in strength and conditioning success in college football, other schools urgently erected weight rooms and claimed to be on the same level as the Cornhuskers. But the weight room wasn’t what made Nebraska better — it was their strength and conditioning program, led by Boyd Epley, the best strength coach in the country, with proven success at all levels of sports. He kept Nebraska in front, not the weight room. 

For this reason, the three pillars of Opendorse Ready are Assessment, Education, Performance. 

We are ready to provide the personalized program built to prepare today’s student-athletes for the highest level of success, and are using this proven structure for making it happen. 

The World is Ready

For more than seven years, Adi and I have dedicated our every waking moment to helping athletes maximize the value of their name, image, and likeness. 

The Opendorse team has built an industry around the #athletedriven movement — an effort to bring the influence athletes have on social media to the forefront of the most forward-thinking marketers in sports and beyond. 

We started this to help one athlete, and last year we hit 10,000 athletes. Along the way, we’ve met and partnered with the biggest organizations in the sports world. We’ve learned a helluva lot about the complexities of the sports marketing business. 

I believe the industry is complicated because it is a reflection of the individuals at the center of everything — athletes. 

These players that pull together to create the teams that win the championships that transform communities, turn small brands into behemoths, coaches into legends, stadiums into statues, and moments into memories we’ll never forget. 

When an athlete sinks a shot, a putt, makes a catch or saves the game, it feels as if they’ve prepared their entire life for that entire moment. 

It feels that way because… it’s true. They are doing exactly what they’ve prepared for their entire life.  

The world feels at peace when we witness someone doing what they’re destined to do. 

Today marks a major step forward in the athlete marketing industry. 

Opendorse Ready is a combination of all the things we have learned in the years building this business.

Beyond the business, we leaned heavily on our personal experience as student-athletes, going through the recruiting process, committing, playing, graduating, reaching the next level. 

We know what it’s like to be a student-athlete. 

  1. To be a student. 
  2. To be a professional athlete.

We work everyday with athletic directors, digital leaders, marketing reps, publicists, coaches, brand managers, union leaders, broadcasters, advertisers, publishers, high schoolers and more. 

We have been preparing these organizations and individuals for a new era of sports marketing. The #athletedriven era. 

We’ve been preaching that change is coming for years now. We’ve taken big swings. Some have missed. Some have hit. But all of them have led us closer to where we are today. 

Today we are in a position to put all that we know into a program that will help an institution that has given us so much. But we won’t stop at Nebraska. 

 We want to help every athlete. There will be more announcements soon. But this one is so big for so many reasons. 

 Since the beginning, two questions have helped guide us to where we are today:

  1. How do we prepare athletes for a new future?
  1. What if we could rebuild the athlete business from the ground up?

Opendorse Ready™ is built to answer both questions.

We’ve been waiting for this moment since day one. Today, I urge leaders across all levels of collegiate sports who are looking to provide an NIL solution to student-athletes — to not just ‘build a weight room,’ but to build a program that produces results. 

A program that will set-up student-athletes for lifelong success. 

A program that will prepare your athletic department for a new future in collegiate sports. 

Changes are coming. 

Are you Ready? Learn more about how you can gain access to Opendorse Ready™.

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