Every four years the world is introduced to new Olympic heroes, as athletes who have worked for years to master their craft come into our lives in a wave of patriotism. However, in an instant, the spotlight is gone again.
How can athletes connect with businesses to develop value-based partnerships in the rapidly shifting landscape of the 24-hour news cycle?
Ottawa Redblacks wide receiver and former Carleton Ravens student-athlete Nate Behar has developed a tool that may help, recently launching an app called FireWork that provides a solution for athletes to develop partnerships with brands and stand out.
The former Carleton Ravens football standout was already busy during the pandemic and continuing to train for his CFL career when he was approached several times by friends looking to tap into his CFL and NFL connections.
Behar quickly realized there was a need for a system that bridged the gap between athletes and brands: “You hear it once you say, ‘Yes.’ You hear it twice and you say, ‘Okay.’ You hear it a third time and you say, ‘Wait, what’s going on here?’”
FireWork provides a “values-driven technology” to put the power of partnerships in the hands of the athlete, letting athletes identify like-minded connections that help both parties thrive.
“There has been a great response,” said the Carleton alumnus.
“One thing with athletes is that they're busy, so it hasn’t been a straight line by any stretch, but the general support, belief and desire to be a part of this has been tremendous and overwhelming and that is what’s continued to spur this along.”
To help typically underserved athletes, Behar recently signed a two-year partnership with AthletesCAN, the association of Canada’s national team athletes.
Supporting National Team Athletes and Brands
The partnership aims not only to connect Canadian national team athletes with partners but also to provide key educational resources to help them develop important skills for effective pricing, pitching and negotiating. In addition to focusing on partnerships, FireWork will also be providing AthletesCAN athletes with two workshops a year in the areas of self-funding, personal branding and marketing, and athlete commercial rights.
“We are excited to form this innovative relationship with Nate, as part of AthletesCAN’s new strategy,” the organization said in a statement.
“FireWork’s promotional platform provides the opportunity to our 6,000-plus membership base to create innovative digital content to help grow their personal brands and ultimately land prospective partners.”
The partnership will also help FireWork reach more athletes and brands faster. The rapid growth isn’t lost on Behar either. Reflecting on those early days, he admits that sitting in coffee shops working on a small passion project was eye-opening.
“I was realizing I had no idea how much I didn’t know,” he said, adding, “we’re much further along than I ever thought we’d be and that’s an awesome feeling.”
“There’s been no time like the present for brands to work with athletes. The athletes themselves know it too. They know there’s no time like the present to put their name out there, to monetize and build their brand.”
At its core, FireWork is an opportunity for athletes at all levels to focus on developing their brands. From the OUA standout to the Olympic gold medalist, there is something for everyone within the platform.
For Behar, the true value of FireWork is not necessarily the help it can provide to the household name but the impact it can have on the lives of athletes grinding day in and day out to make a living at their sport.
“Equitable growth is core to everything that we do. That is the value of this platform. This wasn’t designed for Lebron James, it was designed for everybody else to get a shake, and that counts for male, female, Olympian, Paralympian, the CFL athletes, the CEBL, the athletes that haven’t gotten the chance but still have all that value—this is who FireWork is really for.”