To address the diversity gap in licensing, the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) has unveiled a new business accelerator – DRIVEN. The program is committed to advocating for greater inclusion of diverse entrepreneurs and their consumer products while empowering them as agents of change, moving them off the sideline and providing them with a seat and voice at the table.
DRIVEN aims to guide companies from product development through go-to-market stages to ensure they are prepared for strategic growth and long-term success with an NFLPA group license.
The NFLPA-led business accelerator is designed to provide access and opportunity for these Playmakers (business entrepreneurs) as a means of breaking down institutional barriers, creating another pathway to get their products in the pipeline and ensuring that all fans and consumers are represented through product offerings in the industry.
“To make change, we must look inward,” says Steve Scebelo, president, NFL Players, the marketing and licensing arm of the NFLPA. “We advocate for diversity at all levels of our organization, but when looking at our partnerships, we realized that a small percentage of the companies in our licensing portfolio are owned by women or people of color. This compelled us to investigate and invest in real change in licensing. Through DRIVEN, we’ll support entrepreneurs with diverse identities while also ensuring there are products in the market that appeal to all fans and consumers, so that we can build a better, stronger and more inclusive network that spans the licensing industry.”
Playmakers will receive a two-year enrichment program designed to accelerate their businesses and products by leveraging NFLPA group licensing rights. These rights grant access to more than 2,000 active NFL player rights and their marketing influence, with a minimum of six or more players featured in a product line. The program will:
- Deliver opportunity for funding, mentorship, research and development, product creation and marketing support
- Offer consultation from industry experts, partners and athletes
- Present coaching sessions and special events to help navigate and thrive in the licensing ecosystem
“We want to create a new playbook, one that brings these amazing entrepreneurs off the sidelines and builds new pathways for them to grow their business and get their products into the hands of all fans,” says Terése Whitehead, vice president, consumer products and strategy, NFL Players.
Applications are open now through Dec. 14, with the first DRIVEN cohort to be announced at NFLPA Pitch Day on Feb. 9n Prospective companies can apply to participate and submit their application at Nflpa.com/driven.