Dallas E-commerce Startup FanPrint Connects Athletes to Fans
Dallas — Jerseys of professional athletes, the player’s number featured prominently on the back, are a staple in sports memorabilia. But a Dallas startup wants to make those shirts more personal for those who are wearing them.
FanPrint, which was founded in 2012, uses social media to market sports-themed apparel. About 80 percent of its customers are women, and women are a strategic target for the startup, says TK Stohlman, FanPrint’s founder and CEO.
“What we have is a platform,” he says. “We’re a marketing company. We have the ability to reach fans through social media to help brands find incremental revenue.”
Those brands include some of the best known in sports—the National Football League Players Association; the Collegiate Licensing Company; and World Wrestling Entertainment, or WWE. “We have the ability to reach corners of the Internet that they can’t get to,” Stohlman says.
FanPrint works like this. The company gets into a licensing arrangement with a league or an individual player—former Dallas Cowboys defensive back Darren Woodson is one such player and now in charge of business development for Fanprint—and its Manila, Philippines-based designers begin working on designs. (Only the executive team is based in Dallas.) FanPrint uses social media to market the apparel. Currently, one of the more popular designs features the last names of a team’s players arranged to resemble its home city’s skyline.
“The celebrities saw it as an opportunity to have a direct connection to the consumer,” Stohlman says.
FanPrint’s sales last year were $10 million and Stohlman says he expects to hit $25 million this year. The company takes a percentage of each sale and pays royalty partners between 8 percent and 15 percent. FanPrint, which was part of the 2012 Tech Wildcatters class, has raised $3.25 million from investors such as Woodson.
Initially, the company had more of a charitable focus. “The idea was, we’ll help your personal foundation,” Stohlman says. “We’ll help you drive revenue to it.”
But as licensing partners grew, the company saw opportunities to expand. Now, about 50 percent of FanPrint’s licensing partners use sales proceeds for charitable purposes, such as scholarships, Stohlman says.
Rachel Duitch, FanPrint’s vice president of licensing, says targeting women has been a key strategy for the company. “Women are traditionally underserved in the sports merchandise category,” she says. “Our design concepts speak to women, like taking a fashion trend and pairing it with a sports logo.”