JUSTIN BRANTLEY – FOUNDER OF HELIUM SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT MARKETING – EPISODE 687

Justin Brantley

Website – https://heliumsem.com/

Email – justin@heliumsem.com

Twitter – @HeliumSEM

Justin Brantley is the Founder of Helium Sports and Entertainment Marketing where he helps athletes build their brand beyond the field of competition. Brantley is a student athlete NIL Advisor and has spent the last decade cultivating, developing and marketing student athletes, athletic programs and corporations of all sizes.

Justin previously served as the Academy Director at SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio helping to create one of the most popular and recognizable brands in High School Basketball.   Prior to his tenure at SPIRE, Brantley served as the National Scouting Director at NCSA Athletic Recruiting; where he assisted thousands of families in navigating the recruiting process.

As a high school athlete at St. Martin DePorres H.S. (Detroit, MI) Justin utilized the sport of football to earn his education at the University of Illinois & Howard University. After a brief stint in professional football, he transitioned to Coaching & Student Athlete Development and began working with athletes from youth to the professional levels.

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Grab your notebook and learn more about the NIL landscape as you listen to this episode with Justin Brantley from Helium Sports & Entertainment Marketing.

What We Discuss with Justin Brantley

  • His background as an athlete and in sports marketing
  • Taking a holistic approach to NIL
  • Thinking long term and not just focusing on the dollars that can be made today
  • Getting athletes to think of themselves as a small business
  • Start with NIL opportunities with companies already advertising on campus
  • Look to a player’s hometown for NIL opportunities
  • Tips for athlete’s social media accounts
  • “If you wouldn’t say in front of your grandmother, you shouldn’t say it on social media.”
  • “Athletes should have the same username across all channels and it should be their first and last name.”
  • Why player run hometown camps are an important piece of NIL
  • The need for communication between NIL advisors and coaches
  • “I’m not signing an athlete that comes to me and says, JB. I don’t care what deal it is. I just want all the money. Like I’m not concerned with the long term. I want the money right now. That’s not my type of client.”
  • Colleges adding NIL coordinators to their athletic departments
  • How an NIL collective works and why most Power 5 schools have them
  • Helping athletes understand that everything in NIL is not equal
  • The need to educate high school and college athletes on NIL
  • The pros and cons of NIL coming to the high school level
  • “It takes what it takes and that’s kind of the mentality that I’ve had in the sports business.”
  • “We want to make sure that we’re educating athletes and we’re putting them in a position of empowerment to where they’re in a better place for having been involved with Helium.”
  • Where he sees the NIL market evolving in the next five years

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THANKS JUSTIN BRANTLEY

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Click here to thank Justin Brantley on Twitter!

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TRANSCRIPT FOR JUSTIN BRANTLEY – FOUNDER OF HELIUM SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT MARKETING – EPISODE 687

[00:00:00] Mike Klinzing: Hello and welcome to the Hoop Heads Podcast. It’s Mike Klinzing here without my co-host Jason Sunkle tonight, but I am pleased to be joined for the third time. Justin, third time, Justin Brantley from Helium Sports and Entertainment Management, Justin,  Welcome back, man.

[00:00:14] Justin Brantley: Thank you for having me. I mean, when you say third time, it makes it seem like I’m a favorite guest or something.

So it makes me feel kind of special

[00:00:25] Mike Klinzing: You’re right up there, man. We don’t have, there’s not a lot of guys that have been on three times, so you’re getting up there into the upper echelons of Hoop Heads Pod guestdom. So for people who haven’t maybe listened to some of your earlier episodes, I wanted to give you a chance to just give people a quick background a minute or two, just on kind of how you’ve got to where you are.

And then we’re going to dive into some of the things that you’re doing around Niel, but let’s just go back and give people an idea of how you got here.

[00:00:51] Justin Brantley: Absolutely. Absolutely. So for me, I like to say I’m the example of following your shot and rebounding on your misses and that’s the way that I kind of culminate my career.

You know, it just so happened a lot of things just didn’t go, right. And I call it God’s timing when it was time for things to come together. They have you know, I’ve spent time in pretty much every single role you can think of within the sports industry, from the player side of it.

You know, I played football at University of Illinois and then Howard University to the strength and conditioning and player development side to the recruiting side. And then to the front office side being I guess you could call it the athletic director at Spire academy.

It’s a little bit different than your standard director role. Right? Most athletic directors are worried about scheduling buses and games and managing a budget where we had a lot, a lot more on our plate there. So, so really just have spent a lot of time in a lot of different roles.

That uniquely prepared me for my current role. I’ll say my degree, my background educationally was in business marketing and has always, that’s always been a staple of everything that I’ve done. And I look back on it and I think back to being a kid and my mom telling me, Hey, sports, isn’t going to last forever.

You have to find something else you have to have a plan B. And for me, my plan B was just another way to make my plan a work and always wanting to be involved in sports in some way, shape, form, or fashion and really falling in love with the marketing side of things.

And the way that affects and impacts not only the game but the intersections within sports and entertainment, the intersections within sports and culture, sports and fashion. If you look close enough, you’ll see the athletic imprint on everything throughout life.

And I enjoy being able to help tie those together and tell those stories. So I fashion, myself, as the chief storyteller of Helium Sports Entertainment, Marketing, but I wear many, many hats and, and just enjoy being able to work with student athletes and help them reach their goals and dreams.

[00:03:07] Mike Klinzing: All right, let’s start here. My first question is when you heard that NL was going to be coming online and you looked at it and said, Hey, maybe there’s an opportunity from a business standpoint for me to get involved in this. What were your initial thoughts about what you. Considered it might look like, and then we can kind of think about how maybe it’s different than what your original thoughts were.

[00:03:33] Justin Brantley:  Yeah. I mean, to be completely honest with you when I first heard about it I hated it. And I think that part of that is just the era that I come from. I come from an era of athletics where you did exactly what your coaches told you to do, and you were excited for the opportunity to be there.

And I joke with some of my coach friends and we talk about how nowadays they talk about playing hard as a skill when for us, it was a prerequisite to, to even make the team you just, you had to play hard. That was, that was a given. So when, when I first heard about NIL, the old man in me was not a fan and didn’t like it didn’t like the idea of it.

As it started to warm to me. I started to think about things a little bit more on a holistic level. You have on the micro level, I thought back to teammates of mine that I had at University of Illinois. And  \I’ll tell you I’ve never had, or never wanted or needed for anything my entire life. My parents worked very hard and did a great job providing for us. But I did have teammates that if it wasn’t for being able to eat at the calf or the team issued gear, they wouldn’t have a whole lot and to walk into Memorial stadium in champagne, Illinois, and see 70,000 plus fans in the stands and see people visiting the student store and buying jerseys and see how many people are paying for parking and hot dogs and whatever, and this multi multimillion dollar economy and ecosystem that’s built around these athletes that don’t have an opportunity to capitalize on any of that.

It’s something that makes you think a little bit, right. And I actually did an interview. My best friend Cam Buckner state representative in Illinois, he was influential in getting the bill passed in the state of Illinois, the NIL bill into law. And we did an interview and he kind of changed a lot of my perspective and perception on it reminded me of some of those feelings reminded me of what it was like being on campus and being in that setting and seeing some of those guys who were essentially the employees of the business that weren’t being paid. And we had a very deep conversation from that. I decided to do a whole lot more research and over that first year it was a lot of research and a lot of time really just figuring out what’s missing within the space how I feel like we can impact and help the space without allowing it to become a money, grab or become a situation where it’s just all about, Hey, who can give me the most money or who can give me what deal looks best financially.

And that’s kind of how we’ve built our, our model and built our company. We’re not worried about the biggest deals or the most money, obviously we have to keep the lights on and obviously our players are looking to, to make money. But we take it from an approach of we’re looking at the long term game plan and identifying what our individual student athletes goals are and how can we help them reach their goals first and foremost, on a playing perspective, right?

Because most of our guys, I’d say the vast majority of them, they want to be pros and they have a pretty good shot at it. So how do we make sure that we’re building their brand on a holistic overall level? So it’s more marketing and less NIL what we’re doing. And I love that approach to it.

And I love the clients that we have, we have 18 clients, all roster currently as of today with a couple more that we’re talking through some deals with, to get them on board, but all of them have that same approach. They’re all thinking the long term, they’re not focused on the dollars that they can make today.

[00:07:10] Mike Klinzing: So when you think about the long term. What does that mean? When you start talking about building a brand that’s about more than just grabbing a deal today, but it’s about setting them up for their future, not just as a college athlete, but hopefully as you said, as a pro athlete, how does that approach work?

Or how do you think about that?

[00:07:32] Justin Brantley: Yeah I think long term is subjective. Right? So being in the business, as long as I’ve been I’ve been in the sports business for 15 years now. I’ve had the pleasure of working with multiple players that have gone on to play at the NBA level, gone on to play at the NFL level.

And I tell people, you. Now almost nine times out of 10, you know right. Like you see a kid if he’s got that opportunity, there’s certain things that you can immediately determine there’s other things you can’t measure. Right. And you can’t determine what life circumstances might come their way to derail them.

But a lot of times, you know, so when you’re looking at a guy that you feel like has pro potential, the long term is more about brand protection. It’s more about how do we build a sustainable brand? How do we put ourselves in a position where companies that align with their particular goals or particular the overarching vision that they have for their brand, them understanding that they are themselves a small business, if you will.

And they have to grow and build a brand. And the stronger that brand is built right now, it will impact what opportunities exist for them down the road. So that’s one way of looking at the coin. The other way of looking at the other side of the coin is you have guys that yeah, they may say to you.

Coach Justin or JB, or however they, they communicate with me. I want to be a pro and you’re looking at him and you’re saying, okay, I’m not going to say, tell this, this young man, the, the statistics or the, the numbers game that they’re playing and the chance that they probably won’t be a pro, but I’m going to talk them through how we can prepare them for what it looks like.

If they’re not a pro and how they can be a professional in life. So I have a, a, a young man. I absolutely love Cruz Davis who I, I think he’s got a shot, right? Like he’s playing at Iona. He’s playing with Rick Pitino. One of the greatest coaches of all time when I first met his father, when I first got to know the family, they talked about him wanting to be a lawyer.

So for me, the conversation that I’m having with Cruz and with his family is, Hey, it’s a slow and steady process. And the reality is, let’s say you don’t make it to the NBA. You know, worst case scenario, we’re able to set aside some money to put you in a position where you can have something set aside to pay for law school, right?

Like over the course of these next four years, being able to set that goal in our head of, Hey, this is the cost of law school. How can we chip away at that with NIL opportunities? And I think that that’s the way that I look at it. That’s the way I look at NIL, I, it’s not everybody hears those buzz word, Hey, this player’s getting X million and this and that.

The third, those are unicorns. That’s not happening every day. And it’s few and far between.

[00:10:16] Mike Klinzing: So that was my next question. I think when you hear the conversation in the general public, there’s obviously a clear difference between if you are a starting member of the Kentucky Wildcats basketball team, or you’re the starting quarterback at Ohio State, clearly there’s going to be plenty of NIL opportunities for you.

There’s going to be plenty of companies lining up to align themselves with. Big time athletes at big time schools. And I think where people sometimes get confused or when they wonder is, well, what does that look like for a player who’s at a lower level of division one, let’s say as a basketball player, as a football player.

And when you, as a brand marketer, when you’re looking at, where are we going to find the types of deals that are going to enable our athletes to build the type of brand and image that we want? Where do you go? How do you start to cultivate those relationships with businesses that may be interested in working with your clients?

[00:11:17] Justin Brantley: Yeah, I mean, I think that to the majority of the public, they don’t understand. To me, NIL is the great equalizer. And what I mean by that there’s opportunities. I’ve seen tennis players women’s tennis players at small schools making great money. I’ve seen gymnasts, actually gymnasts are making some of the most per ad revenue of anybody in the entire country.

So obviously, yeah, you have the starting quarterback at that blue blood or power five program he’s going to, he’s going to pull in the big bucks. But I think across the board it’s some of those other sports, those ancillary sports. So there’s, non-revenue generating sports that there’s more sponsor opportunities and more value there.

So I see NIL as an equalizer, right. You have student athletes who Comes out of three things, right? Name, image, and likeness. And this is what I try and explain to every client I work with. If you build those three things, if you make those three things valuable, doesn’t matter where you play at, right?

If you have a name and people recognize that name and they know who you are, and you’ve built a brand while you’re in high school or while you’re navigating the early stages of college and you you’re, you’re a household name wherever you may be. There’s going to be an opportunity to monetize that.

And there’s going to be an opportunity to leverage that and those opportunities may exist on campus or you know, with companies that, and I’m not afraid of giving away some secrets here, but one of the first things I look at is who’s advertising at that school. So if a company is already buying ads, they have ad spend there at the school, whether it be in the stadium, whether it be in the arena, whether it be just on campus, they’re going to want to maximize that ad spend, right?

Like how do they want to get more bang for their buck and, and that make sense for them, or local businesses or businesses that alums have started that they, they frequently give back at, are involved with the university. That’s one side of the coin. The other side is where these kids come from.

You know, I always laugh back in the day. We would tell our players or my clients when I was navigating the recruiting world, say, everybody’s the man in their hometown. You know what happens when you get on campus? And you’re staring at the man from his home. Now all of those accolades and all of that five star and all of that goes out the window.

And now you just have to play well in this situation when you’re the man from your hometown. You can monetize on that, right? Like you can utilize that, that built in ecosystem that you’ve created, that, that built in client base. If you will, if we’re looking at it from a small business perspective and you can do different things within your home community, for people that want to support you.

So there’s, there’s many opportunities, it just comes down to, are you prepared for those opportunities? And quite frankly, I think the majority of high school athletes are not prepared for it. I look at what they’re doing currently on social media, have they grown their social? Are they looking at it preparing for the next five years or are they looking at it for the next five minutes?

And they want to get as many likes as they can. So they’re posting and they’re taking stuff down or they’re putting things in their close friends and things like that, that a brand can’t even look and. The type of impressions you get, or the type of engagement you’re getting on your post, because you’re taking everything down a day after posting it.

So there’s different things that we advise our clients and I talk with my clients about just the educational side of it, and building a brand. And quite honestly, I have an amazing partner. My wife is probably one of the one of the smartest people I’ve ever encountered when it comes to understanding social media and understanding how to build a brand online.

So she lends a lot of expertise and knowledge to, to that to that side of the coin. And you know, she’s done business not just in the us, but, but internationally as well. So when we have clients and players that might end up playing overseas she’s able to help create that blueprint and give us kind of the idea of what this thing’s going to look like 3, 4, 5 years from now.

[00:15:29] Mike Klinzing: Let me ask you about high school athletes and the way they’re using social media. When you think about the mistakes that high school athletes are making, in terms of marketing themselves, building their brand, preparing themselves for college and beyond. What’s a couple mistakes that you see them making that maybe for high school coaches who are listening that may want to be able to share with their own athletes.

Hey, here’s something that you could do to make your social media image better, to get, make your accounts more beneficial to you in the long run. What are some things that they should avoid and maybe what’s one or two things that they should do to improve their accounts?

[00:16:10] Justin Brantley: Yeah, I’d say I’d say the biggest thing that they should not do that I’m seeing a lot of is a lot of people.

Tend to think. And, and if he hears this and, and if he hears this, this isn’t a slight by any stretch of the imagination. but you know, we’re seeing guys like Gary V be authentically themselves on social media and they can cuss and they can say whatever it is they want to say and people love it.

Right. Gary spent the last two decades building a brand, going back to the, the AOL days, right? Like he’s at a point where we, we always joke about somebody having F you money and that’s kind of where he’s at, right. He can say and do whatever he wants, where these high school kids can’t they, they can’t say whatever they want to say.

They can’t have whatever music playing in the background of their posts. Because the reality is a lot of the people that they’re trying to appeal to don’t listen to the same music that they listen to. They’re not of the same culture. They just don’t really align with that in these brands, especially these national brands.

They’re spending time doing research on these people that they’re, they’re potentially going to do an NIL deal with. Nobody wants a person to bring their brand into ill repute or have somebody look at them from a, a, a different lens that isn’t what they desire or intend. So if you’re operating a certain way, you close off a lot of the opportunities and you put yourself into a small box and yeah, if you have four, 5 million followers, then it who cares, but if you’re at four or five, 6,000 followers, you need every opportunity possible.

So I’d say the first piece of advice that I’d give to any student athlete. If you wouldn’t sit there and say it in front of your grandmother. And, and maybe I’m looking at it differently, because my grandmother was very stern and she she’d hit you quick. But if you wouldn’t say in front of your grandmother, you shouldn’t say it on social media.

I think that that’s kind of the first step. The other side of the coin, what they could and should be doing is they should have, and unfortunately I’m not able to do this because I didn’t think about it.  I didn’t know what I know now, but. They should have the same username across all channels and it should be their first and last name.

Again, we go back to name, image, and likeness. They need to own their name. So being able to say at Justin Brantley on all channels, that’s valuable. And if you’re in a position where you can do that and you can start to build a brand and build a consistent every time somebody types something in, they’re going to see all of my socials, if you’re able to do that, that’s big time.

So those are some of the key things that they could, could, and should be doing, just the very basics to start to build that brand.

[00:18:57] Mike Klinzing: I want to go back to what you said. That’s a really good answer. And I think it’s one of those things that it seems like when you at, I are talking, that seems like common sense, but unfortunately we know that one, a lot of times, 15, 16, 17 year old kids, you do something quick rash that you’re not really thinking about.

And as we know that stuff sticks with you and it’s hard to erase. So if you can get it right from the beginning, I think you’re a lot better off. I want to go back to what you said about athletes being able to capitalize on things in their hometown. When you look at hometown opportunities. I think one of the things that jumps into my mind all the time is could all those athletes, no matter what your sport is, could you come back to your hometown and run a camp?

Have you seen athletes? Are you working with any athletes that are running camps back in their hometown? No matter what the sport.

[00:19:45] Justin Brantley: Yeah, I think that that’s a major piece of the puzzle is. The camp opportunities. I think that the issue with that is not necessarily the idea. One of the things that I say to my team all the time, and when we talk about different ideas that we like to do, the ideas are free, right?

Like we all have them. It’s what do we have the capacity to execute? And I think that for a lot of these student athletes, they don’t have the people in their circle to help them to properly execute. And, and running and executing a camp. As you know, it’s not easy. It can be expensive. It takes a lot of time, a lot of planning, a lot of organization.

If you have a, a team around you, that’s going to give you the wraparound resources that can provide photographers and videographers can provide, you know the ability to, to try and self sponsors or sponsorships or ad sales to, to whether it be a free camp or whether it be a paid camp to run marketing and make sure that there’s people there to do community relations and make sure that the coaches know the high school coaches know and middle school coaches know what you’re doing.

There’s a lot of moving pieces that need to happen. I think the camps are probably in my opinion, the best idea. and because especially if you’re a player that has that hometown following, but also relatively local, when it comes to college these are fans that are coming and watch you play.

These are fans that are going to follow you on social media. They’re going to remember that time. You may not remember. They’re going to remember when you high fived them when they were in third grade. And we see that all the time now, right? Like you look at all these guys that are in NBA, currently NFL currently, and you see the pictures that they have from Hey, I was in third grade and I went to such and such camp and I never forgot that.

And that’s what made me want to be great. For me, it’s more about legacy building than revenue building. So without a doubt I would recommend for every single student athlete, whether you’re at division one or ni N AIA to think about running a camp, but you have to insulate yourself with a team that’s able to execute that it doesn’t hurt your brand by running that camp. If that makes sense, right? Like you’re hosting a camp and there’s three, there’s three people there and you drop the ball and the t-shirts have iron on letters that are falling off during the camp. There there’s some minimal things that need to happen, but without a doubt, camps are a great opportunity.

[00:22:08] Mike Klinzing: Yeah. I think that’s a great point that if you can execute it well, it’s just like anything else, right? If you can execute it well, it’s going to end up being something that can be a positive, as it says, as you said, you’re, you’re, you’re leaving a legacy. You’re giving back in your community, in addition to whatever revenue you can generate from that.

So to me, that seems like. A no brainer, but as you said, it’s a no brainer. If you have the right group around you, that can help you to facilitate that and make sure that you’re putting a quality product out there for people to be able to participate in. If it’s not well run, it can do the exact opposite and damage your brand and, and make people think, oh, what’s this guy.

What’s this guy trying to do here is not going to work out quite as well. So I think if you have the right team, as you said, that’s a really good point that you just made. How much contact Justin do you have with the coaching staffs at the schools where your athletes are from, do you have to, are those conversations that you think are required?

Are they conversations that aren’t required? Is it some schools want to talk to people who are involved in the representation? Just how’s that work your, the relationship between someone like yourself and the college coaches? Cause I know from talking to a lot of college coaches that they’re still trying to figure out and kind of, everybody’s trying to figure out how to navigate it.

With the best interest of the student athlete in, in mind, but also trying to see how that impacts their program and what they’re trying to build out on the court, around the field. So just what’s your relationship like with college coaches?

[00:23:33] Justin Brantley: Yep. And had to chuckle a little bit because I felt like me answering this question might get me in a little bit of trouble, because I do have an answer for you, but you know, the reality is I am pretty well media trained and I know how to spin it, but I will say I think that relationships with the coaches is paramount.

I’ve in my career. I know a lot of these guys, a lot of the guys that I’m working with and talking and dealing with Never once have I had a college coach call me and say, Hey, Justin, I want you to represent this player that that has not happened. And I’m glad that it hasn’t happened because I want guys to want to be with us and not feel like they’re being forced or pushed by their coaches.

So I appreciate, I’ve gotten a lot of support from my friends that are coaches and that support has been more in the terms of motivation or conversation or let’s talk about NIL I’ll say probably the two best interactions I’ve had. Surprisingly they’re Michigan state guys Dwayne Stevens.

He’s now the head coach at Western Michigan. Prior to me working with Jackson Kohler he was the first phone call I made I’ve known Dwayne for a while. I’ve the utmost respect. And I wanted to make sure that you know, him and his staff and coach Izzo knew. And Dwayne kind of let me know, Hey, you know what, there’s some things in the background going, and I might not be here, but here’s the guy you need to talk to.

And then when he got the job at Western Michigan, when I spoke to nd decided to work with, be artist white  I text him and we got on a call and it was late at night, but we had a very, very good conversation and the conversation circled back to what’s best for the student athlete.

They know that I’m never going to do anything that’s going to put their program in, in harm’s way because the respect that I have for them, right? Like I understand more than anybody or not. I wouldn’t say more than anybody, but I understand more than most that they’re doing a job on a daily basis and their family’s relying on them to do their job and to do their job well.

So I don’t want to be the person that makes their job more difficult. So I think that that transparency and that communication, I is key. I will say that I’ve had situations where coaches have, have, have not been helpful and kind of looked at it as a negative thing and. Kind of, I don’t, I wouldn’t say told their players not to do it, but you know, kind of pushed them in another direction or advised them not to really pursue the opportunities.

And, my takeaway from that, my response to that was at the end of the day, you want somebody in these student athlete’s ear that understands the holistic side of things and is taking an approach that isn’t focused just on money, especially if you’re at a low major or mid-major school, because we saw with a player this year he transferred to, and I’m not going to say where he came from and what school he went to.

But the big thing was he left this school to go to that school for the money. Right. And if you don’t put your student athletes in a position where they feel like, not necessarily saying they’re getting every dollar or they’re getting everything that’s available, but they feel like they are being heard and they feel like they have representation.

They feel like they have people around them that just won’t what’s best for them. They’re less likely to listen to a booster or somebody back home whether it be an AAU coach or a high school coach or a friend or whoever saying, Hey man, like, why are you over there when you can go over here and get X, Y, Z, and, and we all know that it’s happening, right?

Like it’s part of the landscape. So my conversation to all of the coaches that I work with and deal with is I want us all to be on the same page. I want all to be honest and transparent, know what’s going on. Know what our ultimate goal is and what our vision is. I’m not signing an athlete that comes to me and says, JB.

I don’t care what deal it is. I just want all the money. Like I’m not concerned with the long term. I want the money right now. That’s not my type of client. So with that being said, my type of client is going to want to be a great member of not just their, their team, but their university. They’re going to want to be somebody that’s going to leave an impact there on that campus for years to come.

And I’m going to want to work with that coach to make sure that everything we do aligns with their principles, I’m going to want to make sure. And, and I’ve got that great relationship. Garrett burning stool, he’s on staff with, with Michigan state before I do anything with Jackson or anytime an idea comes up that somebody pitches something and say, Hey, we want Jackson Kohler for this.

I’m immediately reaching out to him and saying, Hey, what do you think about this before I pitch it to the student athlete, right? Like I want to make sure that the team and the coaching staff is on board and understands what we’re doing and it’s something that they agree with. So I think that the relationship the 360 degree relationship is paramount, I think is probably the most important piece of the puzzle is that transparency and honesty.

Unfortunately we know that’s not always the way of our business. And when I say our business, just the sports business period but ideally that’s what I would like to see more of. I would like to see not necessarily the coaches getting in the middle and telling the kids where, who they can work with and can’t work with, but a just an ecosystem where everybody’s on the same page and everybody has an understanding of what the goals are.

And they’re able to move forward to reach those goals.

[00:28:50] Mike Klinzing: So I think there’s two things that jump out to me there. One is, I’m guessing that the coaches that you mentioned that. Are kind of hesitant about it that said, eh, I don’t know if you want to do that. I think coaches my guess is that those coaches are just sort of, it’s new.

They’re not sure what to make of it. And therefore they’re kind of like, eh, just stay away from that. But to your point, and I think to anyone who’s looking at the landscape, this cat is outta the bag. It’s not, it’s not going away. So for any coach to kind of put their head in the sand and think that they can hide from it, I think is a mistake.

I think you’re much better off trying to do what you did, which is educate yourself, figure out as much as you can about it, and then do whatever you can to help your athletes, to maximize their experience with Niel. Which again, as you said is not about grabbing every last dollar, but it’s about how can we do this in such a way that it benefits the student athlete.

It benefits the company that they get involved in. And it benefits the greater program. And I think if you can do that, which eventually is where I think all schools would like to get to, which is going to be a process clearly, but I think that’s where we want to get to. And so when I look at that and I’ll ask you as somebody who’s much more involved in it than I am, do you see eventually?

And I’m sure, especially at the big power five schools that this is, if it’s not already in place, it’s going to be in place very, very soon. I think at the lower levels, eventually it’s going to end up there where every school is probably going to end up having an NIL expert, an NIL coordinator that’s going to be part of their athletic department staff.

Do you see that coming down the plank? And if so, like how soon do you think schools are going to have those positions in place?

[00:30:43] Justin Brantley: Yeah, a hundred percent. I think once they can, once they figure out the budget to it I think the majority of schools will have somebody in that type of role. And that doesn’t necessarily mean that, that person’s going to go out and seek out IL deals for all of their, their players or, or be the sole the sole voice of NIL I think that that’s a dangerous slope to go on.

And you know, the reason why I say that when you look at it from, from just a, a 30,000 foot, view’s the new currency for a lot of these student athletes, you don’t want a student athlete coming to your school and he’s unhappy. There’s a lot of reasons for a player to be unhappy, right? Whether it be playing time, whether it be home sickness, whether it be girlfriends back home.

And I miss her, whether it be academic, whatever the case may be. There’s so many we’re dealing with teenagers, right? Like we don’t want. We’re not getting them enough money to be added to the equation. Right. So for me, if I’m in that coach’s position, if I was a head college coach right now, yes. I want somebody on my staff that’s knowledgeable and they can answer those questions when they’re brought to us, they can kind of review those deals and make sure everything makes sense.

But I also want my guys to have a resource that they’re working with independently of our program. And I’d like to vet that resource. I’d like to know that that resource has the right intentions in line, but I want to be able to have that separate from what we’re doing as a program. Right? Like my job is to coach and develop you as a young man on and off the court.

And that does part of that does flow into marketing and branding and building  your overarching brand, but have a resource that’s helping you to identify the money side of things. And we can help you with that, right? Like we can hand you additional resources, whether it be the collectives.

And you’re seeing that a lot with the big schools, they have collectives. And we have these boosters that are willing to work with the, these, whatever the case may be. But I think having a little bit of separation there allows the coaches to focus on coaching and that staff to do what they do best.

And NIL not to become a part of that conversation. When you’re saying, well, why is this student athlete happy or unhappy? That’s kind of my feelings on it. Everybody’s going to look at it differently. And I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way.

[00:33:04] Mike Klinzing: I do think it, if you have somebody on staff that.

Becomes an expert and there’s a position created and that person can help to facilitate and educate the student athletes. To me. There’s no downside if it’s done well now, clearly you could execute. You could execute it poorly, but if you execute that position well, and you get the right person, it seems like that would be a tremendous resource.

As student athletes are trying to navigate this and also a tremendous help to the coaches who, again, like it or not, this is something that coaches are having to navigate. That’s completely different from the world three years ago, where yep. Athletes can’t touch any income. And now suddenly they have the opportunity to earn again, in very few cases, but in some cases, millions of dollars as a college.

Which was unfathomable to anybody five years ago. And you mentioned the collectives. I think that’s another interesting piece to talk about maybe for people who are out there who don’t understand what a collective is. Maybe you can give us a quick 32nd synopsis on what a collective is. And then we can talk a little bit about how that has an impact on athletes.

Mostly right now at the, at the bigger schools, as you said, it hasn’t trickled down. And I think it may be a challenge to trickle down at some of the lower you know, the lower mid-major type schools, but just talk a little bit about what a collective actually is for people who maybe aren’t familiar with that.

[00:34:31] Justin Brantley: Absolutely. Absolutely. So before I lose my train of thought, one thing I wanted to touch on that you said, you talked about having that role within the team and how you, you don’t see how it could be a bad thing. And unfortunately we’ve all seen the best of intentions be misconstrued, right.

And the sports that are played all across The United States at the collegiate level, they’re not equal opportunity sports. None of them are you, you don’t get minutes just because you’re here. It’s not everybody plays. Everybody gets a trophy and the NIL market’s going to be the exact same thing, right?

Unfortunately, you, you have a lot of people on the backside of it that, you know we’re, we’re seeing an influx of entitlement in this era, in this generation, if you will. And I hate to see it in a situation where guys are comparing comparing their checks to another, right? Like I’m here at the same school.

We have the same I person. Why is he getting 10 times while I’m getting well, he has six, six times the amount of followers you have, he’s averaging eight more points a game. So, so those conversations that you enter into in those sort of situations now to touch on the collective. a lot of programs, and you mentioned it they’re mainly the, the high major programs they have.

They have the resources of alumni who are, are invested in donating to their programs. You know, a good example of that is Michigan state university with Matt Ispa, United wholesale mortgage. And he’s not just focused on basketball program, even though he played basketball there. But you know, they have guys on the football team doing ads and it’s everybody.

Like, it’s not something that is just held or set aside to the top player. The collectives bring a certain amount and they’re saying, Hey, everybody on this, team’s going to get X. And what they’re going to do for that X is they’re going to post. So many times about United wholesale mortgage, or they’re going to show up at this event or whatever the case may be.

They’ll do this signing, they’ll do this this appearance. So that’s what the collectives are. There, there are a group of business owners, or they were designed to be a group of business owners and alumni that you have an interest in the, the university. And they want to make sure that their student athletes are getting the best of opportunities.

And they’re willing to put their money where, where their heart is. And so that’s the way that I see the collectives. I, I know a lot of people have this this, this perception of the collectives being the boogieman that are coming together to, to, to put together the, the package to get that top player.

And that’s not really what it is what it, what it is. It’s, it’s people that care about and respect and love their program. And they’re finding resources to make sure that those student athletes are compensated not just the top players, but you know, the players throughout the entire program.

[00:37:24] Mike Klinzing: I think that goes back to your comment, right before we started talking about collectives, where it’s not always equal, where if you’re a starter, you’re probably going to have more opportunities in an IL. That’s someone who’s not getting very many, very much playing time. And that goes to coaches.

And I think when you hear hesitancy from coaches, I think they worry about the fact that you don’t have that it’s not equal and coaches understand why it’s not equal, but what they don’t want is for these outside IL dealings to come back into the locker room. And as you mentioned, where player X is looking at player Y going, well, why are you making 10 times as much as I am when we’re both here sitting in the same locker room.

And so I think when coaches worry about this, I think that’s where their worry is. Is that something that never used to be a part of. their program. Something that they didn’t have to deal with salaries were not salaries were not an issue. Not that this is a salary, but the amount of money that somebody could make was not an issue.

You had enough other issues with playing time and all the things that go in with being a team. But this is just a new thing that I think coaches have had to deal with. And so when you start talking about the collective where everybody who’s part of the team can share in that I think coaches in an ideal world, they’d probably prefer that as opposed to the individual deals, just because of the potential havoc, it could play with team dynamics.

If that makes any sense.

[00:38:58] Justin Brantley: Yeah, no, a hundred percent. Right? Like I think that you hit the nail right on the head. And I think it just all depends, right? Like if we’re talking about high, major football and basketball, we’re dealing with young men that have aspirations of being in the NBA and the NFL education is supposed to prepare you for that next step in your journey and the education at this point and navigating through watching the starting quarterback get a 3 million NL deal. But because you are a freshman walk on you might have $35 coming your way. I mean, that’s just part of the hierarchy of life and understanding and learning that, Hey what, if you’re unhappy with your paycheck, what do you have to do?

You better work harder, right? Like that’s just what it all boils down to. You know, every single NBA organization has somebody making 35, 40 million a year getting all the shots and people have to learn how to play their role and the ones that do. They have long careers. They make a lot of money and they have a great living.

The ones that can’t separate and understand that this is a business at sports, although it’s fun for us as kids, when you get to that collegiate level, it’s really especially high, major collegiate athletics. It’s a business. And they have to start to understand that. I think it goes back to everything circles back to education and with the right people, educating these student athletes and having those conversations and those direct and honest conversations of what everything’s not equal.

And that’s okay. There’s a difference between equality and fairness. So you having the same opportunity to leverage your name, image and likeness is fairness. That doesn’t necessarily mean that everything’s going to be equal. And I think that having the right voices and the right people working with these young men and young women, it eliminates a lot of that jealousy and bitterness or, you know as they say pocket watching it will kind of take that out of the equation if you have the education on the front end.

[00:41:01] Mike Klinzing: All right. Let me ask you this. When you meet with one of your clients for the first time, and you start talking to them about NA L and obviously every kid is different. So I’m asking you to generalize what, what’s their knowledge level of NIL the marketplace what’s out there. What’s realistic. Just what are those initial conversations that you have with your athletes?

How knowledgeable are they about NIL in general?

[00:41:31] Justin Brantley: Great question. Unfortunately, the majority of the ones coming out of high school are very unknowledgeable on it. And the reason being is that we are, again, so antiquated in our thinking that a lot of coaches at the high school level don’t even want to talk about it.

They don’t want to see it become legal in their state. And I’ve heard that from so many different people, so they don’t even want to have the conversation. Right?  And the conversation and the education is the most important part of the puzzle. Being able to educate these student athletes on the front end will save them a lot of headaches on the back end.

So a lot of ’em aren’t knowledgeable, but my guys that are at college for example, I’ve got two players at Ole miss that we’ve been on zooms with we’ve been on zooms together. We’ve been on zooms with a representative from Morgan Stanley that I absolutely love. That’s talking to them about financial planning and how to make this an NIL money work for you and how to invest in all these different conversations where a lot of us think, oh, we have tons of money to invest, not realizing that we could put $10,000 away now, while we’re in college in 20 years from now look up and have a very nice nest egg. So a lot of those conversations need to be had and they need to be had a lot earlier than later. It shouldn’t be and I’ll tell you, a lot of these colleges do a great job educating the student athletes once they get there.

But at the high school level and, and leading into going to college, there’s a lot of misinformation. There’s a lot of lack of education on the overarching topic of NIL. But more importantly, not even just NIL but marketing, right? Like how do I market myself? How do I make myself marketable? I’m so tired of having conversations with people that are comparing the NIL dollars of one player to another, and they have a fraction of their following. And they don’t understand that a lot of it from a business standpoint, from businesses that are putting up money, they don’t care how good you are. Yeah. Obviously that’s a part of the puzzle, right? Like you have to be good. You have to be able to play, but they’re not looking and saying, okay, yes, but you’re better than this player.

So we’re going to take you. No, they’re looking at, Hey, this player has 150,000 followers that reach our target market. They’re converting at a rate of X. Their, their impressions are why we can make money by aligning ourselves in being in the business of this player. You, over here, you haven’t strategically built a brand, which is okay.

You’ve been focused on basketball. Nobody’s knocking that. But with 2000 followers, you’re not in a position to make as much money as somebody that has 10, 15, a hundred times that. 

[00:44:15] Mike Klinzing: Do you see the educational piece, because I think eventually, and I know it’s not there now. And I think there’s probably, I forget how many states, five to 10 states that have officially allowed NIL at the high school level.

And there’s lots of others that are considering it. Do you see, eventually it just becoming legal in all 50 states, NIL for high school athletes. Do you see that eventually getting to that point, just because of whether it’s lawsuits or whatever it might be, you think back to a guy like LeBron when he’s in high school and what he could have been able to sign in terms of NIL deals when he’s at St. Vincent St. Mary, just, do you think that eventually we get NIL in high school, across the country?

[00:45:00] Justin Brantley: Absolutely. You know, we’re at 17 states as of today. Okay. That have legalized NIL at the high school level. And I think that what’s going to happen is you’re going to end up with a vacuum or a funnel of athletes identifying and understanding that and not saying it’s for everybody, right?

Like everybody’s different. You know, I wish my 16 year old would come to me and say, dad, I want to move to XYZ because they have there and we don’t have it in Michigan. I’m going to look at, ’em like, dude, you better focus on algebra, but we’re going to see a situation where top talent is going to start to identify and understand, Hey, I can go to California or I can go to Colorado or Washington DC, or I can go to New York or I can go to Utah.

And I mentioned those states specifically because all of them. Prep school options. All of them have historically known basketball programs that student athletes typically fly to. So for, for all the guys that are already fighting and kicking and screaming, and there were articles that were written about us when we were at aspire and us pulling players out of the state of Michigan.

And you know, why etcetera, well, this is just going to be another one of those situations where that top talent, that, that top 5% is going to start to look elsewhere if that’s not the case. And, and I think that from a perspective of this, from the state perspective, I don’t see why you wouldn’t legalize it, right?

Like it’s not an issue that you’re going to have with every single player. Not everybody is marketable. Not everybody has a following to even get NIL like, what are they going to do? Get free haircuts at the local barbershop. And if that is what they’re going to get, great. Why shouldn’t they get that? So I think that we will see, fairly soon a situation where every student athlete, whether they’re in high school, whether they’re in college has the opportunity to utilize their name, image, and likeness. And with that, we’ll see more universal education on sports marketing and on building a brand and how to build the brand, my fear with that, right?

Because there’s a pro and a con to everything. My fear to that is we’re going to lose the focus on player development and end up with a focus on brand development. Families will be in a situation where and not everybody, but maybe a family is a lower income or middle income family.

And they. You know, 5,000 disposable dollars that maybe a year ago they would funnel towards player development that now maybe they’re going to push towards brand development because the ROI seems to be a little bigger than the player development. Now, guess what? We’ve chased the short term, but we’ve hindered ourselves in the long term.

So I think that we’re going to see a lot of different things play out, unfortunately. You know, it’s like anything, right? Like every, every superhero their powers can be used for good or for evil. And I just think that’s going to come down to who’s guiding and navigating these student athletes, what are their intentions?

And what is their ultimate goal for the ecosystem of youth athletics. I think that some of the older coaches and the guys that come from that school of thought that I was in, when I first came, they’re either going to walk away from the game, because they’re going to lose the love of it, or they’re going to adopt and adapt a little bit.

But I think that those are the ones, those voices that we need more so than anything, we can’t have all of these veteran coaches quitting because they don’t want to deal with this because they’re the, the steadying voices within the ecosystem that can say, Hey Yes, go ahead and take advantage of opportunities, but don’t let the main thing no longer be the main thing we have to continue to develop.

We have to make you a better player. Let’s have avenue A and avenue B going at the same time and hopefully they intersect. Right. I think that that’s kind of what’s needed in the space. And I think that those voices and, and those experienced people, instead of them shaking their finger at NIL and saying, no, no, no, no, no.

And Hey, I’m going to quit. If that happens, we need them more than ever in this situation.

[00:49:07] Mike Klinzing: And that’s going to be really important moving forward. I think not just at the college level, but when you start talking about the high school level and you and I have seen in youth basketball, in grassroots basketball, how it’s really possible for people who maybe don’t have the best intentions with an athlete to latch themselves onto a kid that they think has promise or to a family of a kid that they think has promise.

And now suddenly they’re working behind the scenes and. Getting involved in a way that they shouldn’t, there’s going to be a much more, there’s going to be much more of a need for good education. And for coaches and people like yourself who are in the business, who care about the kids that they’re working with, who care about the athletes and care about more than just the dollar signs, but really want to have a positive impact.

Because as you said, if you end up with a lot of people who are those studying voices and those people who have experience, if they walk away from it and say, ah they just wash their hands. I don’t want to deal with this then we’re going to be end. We’re going to end up in a situation where you have a lot of young athletes.

Getting bad advice and let’s face it when you have somebody. And I don’t know, you can look back at yourself as a college student, but I know I can look back at myself as a college student. And I know I was excited when I got some meal money on the road and you know, sometimes, Hey, I’m going to skip lunch.

And if I put together a couple of these meal monies, I can go out and buy myself a pair of shoes or whatever. And you just kind of think about how just ill-equipped I was to be able to deal with something on this level, especially when you’re talking about some of the bigger deals, but just as you mentioned, getting athletes, financial education, talking to ’em about building your brand.

Like there’s so many things holistically that go into helping a kid to be able to have success. And clearly the younger and younger, this goes the more important that education piece and having adults that are looking out for the best interest. Of the student athletes becomes even more important. I look, I just look at the high school piece of it.

And to me, that’s the biggest thing that has to happen. I think it has to happen at the college level too. But again, as you get younger and younger, you just have to make sure that the people around those athletes are making good decisions and helping that athlete make good decisions.

[00:51:29] Justin Brantley: Absolutely. And I think that you’ll never be able to monitor who’s around the student athletes.

But what you can do is you can educate and arm the student athletes to prepare them for the world. That’s going to face them. And when you’ve educated them properly, you’ve given them all the resources and the ability to make a, an informed decision. You typically see less errors. So the more education, the more we could talk about on the front end versus running.

The better we can equip our young men and women to be able to identify who’s not really for them or who’s not really coming from a place of love or a place of really wanting to see that student athlete be successful.

[00:52:10] Mike Klinzing: I think that’s a great point. And to me, it comes down to, you have to have the best interest of the student athlete at heart.

You would hope that a parent does, although we know we’ve seen parents who unfortunately think they might have the best interest of their kid at heart and end up making some curious decisions that are ones that from the outside, looking in, you’re like who, I’m not sure that that’s really a direction that you want to go.

When you think about what you do with your athletes, how often are you having conversations with them? What’s it look like as you’re putting together a deal and you’re talking to ’em, how often are you conversing with them? How often are you connecting with them? To make sure that they know what they need to know.

[00:52:56] Justin Brantley: Yeah. I try and keep them involved from the very beginning all the way through the end of the deal. I think that that’s one of the things that we, we want to focus on is not just the acquisition of the deal, but the execution of the deal. We want to make sure that they have the resources to if it’s posts that need to be made, whatever that deliverable is.

As, as a unit, we want to be able to provide and put them in a position to be successful with that. So that whether that means 20 conversations or whether that means three or four, whatever it takes it takes what it takes. And that’s kind of the mentality that I’ve had in the sports business.

It’s not just what we’re getting paid for. And I tell guys all the time I didn’t come into the, the NIL space for monetary gain that wasn’t the reason it wasn’t, oh my God. There’s money here. Let’s jump on this, at the time, and it was during our last our last time talking on the podcast I had my consulting firm and a lot of what we were doing was sports marketing, and it’s still what we do, right?

Like that’s our bread and butter. That’s our focus. We work with companies of, of multiple sizes. We work with different schools, teams, et cetera. From a marketing standpoint, that’s kind of our main source of revenue. Whereas the NIL is more so about working with guys that we believe in working with guys that we enjoy and working with guys that we want to see be successful in the long run. It’s not just about how much money will make off of a deal or what that’ll look like. And, and obviously we want to make sure that we’re putting our guys in a position where they can start to reach their goals, whether that be monetary, whether that be on the field, on the court, et cetera but more so than anything else, we want to make sure that we’re educating them and we’re putting them in a position of empowerment to where they’re in a better place for having been involved with Helium.

That’s kind of my way of looking at it is I, I want to make sure that whenever they leave us, they’re leaving us in a better place than they were when we found them.

[00:55:03] Mike Klinzing: When you talk about some of those extra things that you’re providing, you talked a little bit about the financial side of it and talking to them about that.

And you’re thinking about the social media side of it. Are there any other things besides those two on the financial or social media side, that jump out to you? When I say, what other things are you. Providing to them in terms of education, when it comes to their brand as a college athlete and then potentially their future brand as a pro athlete.

[00:55:30] Justin Brantley: Yeah. I would say that those are the, are the two primary things. The other is just experience, right. Being able to connect the dots and get them in rooms and in conversations with guys that have been where they’re at or where they are. And to help provide opportunities for them to be successful.

I tell all of my clients, I can be here to give you as much as you need, or as little as you need. If you feel like you need a lot of help and a lot of resources as you navigate through your college journey that’s what we’re here for. And you know, I have a unique experience to be able to help navigate and guide you through that.

So really just  the wraparound resources, whether it be brand building, whether it be financial literacy, whether it be understanding and education within the market, whatever the case may be, whatever we have to do to help our clients. We don’t have bankers hours and we don’t have billable hours.

All of our student athletes, everything that, that we provide for them is included as part of our overall services to them. So it takes what it takes. Again, I say that all the time, I tell all my guys, it takes what it takes, and that’s kind of the mantra here, we have to check our ego at the door.

It’s not about what we did or what we’ve done in the past. I literally you know, guys always want to ask me about the time at Spire and Lamelo Ball on. So I’m like, I want to talk about that. I want to talk, I want to talk about you, right? Like, I want to talk about like, what this is going to look like for you, because what I’ve done in the past, it’s irrelevant in the situation.

It’s what can I do for you? So that’s been our, our goal and that’s been our, our focal point.

[00:57:11] Mike Klinzing: So let’s leave that past behind us. Let’s look into the future and let’s do it with two questions. So question first, part of the question, when you think about the NIL marketplace, just in general, not specific to what you’re doing, but when you just look at the landscape, what do you think it looks like in 2, 3, 4 years as it continues to mature, do you have any thoughts about what.

You think may or may not happen over the next few years when it comes to just the general outlook on a, and then I’ll ask you specifically about what you guys are doing.

[00:57:47] Justin Brantley: Yeah. You know, I think the market will be regulated, and what I mean by that, I’m not saying from a standpoint of rules and regulations, I’m saying just the, the market will start to kind of settle itself.

You’re not going to see as many high dollar deals as you’re seeing currently, because there’s, it’s just not sustainable. And quite frankly, there’s not a whole lot of ROI. For a lot of these companies that are putting out these deals. So as, as there’s more data sets and there’s more opportunities for them to kind of track and trace these deals over time month to month, quarter to quarter, year to year, you’re going to see a situation where that market will stabilize a bit and they’ll say, okay, this is the value.

And, and there’ll be a true setting on what a, what the value is of a player at X school, right? Or what the value is of a player at this school right now, it’s kind of people have their formulas. But the only people that can really answer the question of the value is the, the brands that are paying for it.

A lot of times they’re not going to come out and tell you they took a loss, right? Like they don’t want to look stupid, but I think that you’re going to see over time, history will be the judge that it’ll, it’ll start to align that where you’ll see a lot of those big deals start to kind of fizzle out and you’ll see kind of a, a baseline for what it looks like and what opportunities are going to exist moving forward.

I think that that’s going to be the future within the next couple years.

[00:59:08] Mike Klinzing: They have to collect their data. Right. And figure out what works and what doesn’t. And because it’s basically a completely new industry, it’s a completely new market that didn’t exist before. And so I think you’re right, that these companies are going to be out there trying things right now.

They’re experimenting. They’re trying to see what works. And as this thing shakes out over the next couple years, they’re going to look at it and say, okay, it’s worth signing in an IL deal with player X from X school, with this amount of followers on this social media. And you’re going to really break it down.

You’re going to have the data analytics that we see. So prevalent in all industries today, I think is going to come here. And as you said, it’s going to cause everything to sort of settle in and, and they’re going to figure out where the best point where we can invest our money and get that ROI as you described. All right.

For you personally, with helium and what you’re trying to do there, as you look ahead into your future, same timeframe, 2, 3, 4 years down the road. What do you hope. You’re able to do with this in terms of services you’re providing to athletes in terms of the size and how many athletes you’re open to represent.  Just give me an idea of your vision of the future.

[01:00:17] Justin Brantley: Yeah. That’s a hard question, right? Because if you asked me at the beginning of this journey you know, my wife and I, we sat down and talked and you know, when we signed our first client we, we had that conversation of what this thing looked like.

And I said, well I think that we will be around 10 guys going into this first year. And we’re knocking on the door of 20 as the school year is just getting started. We had the conversation and I said, well, Hey, we’ve ran our collective businesses so far out of our home office.

I think we can do that for year one. And you know, here we are, we have office space and beautiful office space if I must say so myself. So I try not to limit myself with too many goals or kind of points that we’d like to reach or hit or numbers or things like that.

I feel like when we know we’ll know, right, we’re going to find our sweet spot of what works and what makes sense for us. As we scale one of the things that I would like to do and we’ve done it so far. We have an amazing, amazing, amazing group of, of, of people that work with us. I never like to use the phrase work for us but work with us and we’ve been able to give opportunities and that’s kind of what I look at Helium to do in the future.

We’ve got a great kid, Max Kellner. He’s 15 and I wish that I had my head on, on my shoulders the same way he does when I was 15. But he, he cold called me. We built a relationship. It’s been a couple months now, but he’s a junior agent for us. He’s brought over some talented athletes. I mean, he’s brokering deals where we’re working through a deal right now that, that he brought to the table.

So things like that, those are the things that I look at that are exciting to me that make me feel like we’re doing the right things and we’re, we’re moving in the right direction. If I can find two or three more maxes I will, we’ll be seriously, like I was, I was texting with one of my buddies.

He’s an NBA scout and we’re talking about it. And I told him, I said, this kid reminds me of you. And we had a conversation about it. And he says, yeah, he says, most people wouldn’t give a 15 year old in that type of opportunity. And I’m like, why the hell not right. Let’s dismantle the gatekeepers.

Let’s dismantle the status quo, right? Like this is new to everybody. Why not give somebody this passionate and young and wants to do it an opportunity to come in and do it. So for me, those are the things that kind of will, will be in our future is identifying the young talent that just truly loves the business of sport.

And we can nurture and develop and, and help those guys move on to their next level. You know, I told max when he came on board with us, I said if you stay with us forever, that means I failed you. You know, I want to prepare him to be a, a GM at the next level or to join a major agency or whatever the case may be, whatever aligns in his journey and path.

But it’s people like him that inspire me. That’s what I look at for the next three years. I’m looking to scale I’m looking to not necessarily have a ton of clients to the point where we can’t manage them and we can’t give them all the resources and time and attention that they deserve, but definitely having more of a national imprint and, and we’re doing very well.

We have an office in Memphis as well. So we have a Southeast office. We have student athletes all over the country currently, but you know, just scaling more is, is kind of the, the. Answer on a nutshell of what I’d say two, three years looks like for, for me you know, scaling a little bit larger and having some, some great guys that great guys and girls that we’re working with that allow us to spread the message of education that allow us to do things the way we see and we feel that they should be done.

And I tell everybody I’m horseradish, I’m not for everybody. And Helium’s the same way. It’s not going to be for everybody. But the people that love horseradish they, they keep a bottle in the refrigerator at all times. Right? So making sure that the people that are our type of people that, that work for us and fit with us we’re going to align with them and we’re going to take into the highest Heights.

[01:04:35] Mike Klinzing: That’s exciting. And that’s fun because what I hear you saying there is you have a two pronged approach to your business. You’re not only helping your clients, but you’re also helping to develop internal talent and help people to move on. Right. Just like being a head coach of a basketball team, One of your jobs yes, is to help your players to get better and have a successful team. But if you’re a good head coach, you also care about developing your staff and giving them an opportunity. If they want to eventually end up and be head coaches and run their own program, your job’s the head coach is to help them to do that.

And I hear you describing your business in the exact same way you’re running it. Just like absolutely an outstanding head coach would do the same. So I want to wrap up here by giving you a chance, Justin, to share how people can reach out to you, how they can find out more about what you’re doing. And then after you do that, I’ll jump back in and wrap things up.

[01:05:25] Justin Brantley: Absolutely. So we’re looking to grow our social media presence and spend quite a bit more time and resources over the next couple months and, and developing the social side on Instagram Helium.SEM on Instagram, on Twitter, HheliumSEM there is no dot.

So it goes back to what I was saying about branding and being able to own your name across all channels. We weren’t able to do that. so but, but that, that’s where they can find me on social media. You know, I, I can be emailed. I love cold emails. I absolutely, I tell people all the time, there may not be an opportunity today, or there may not be something that I can do for you right now, but you never know who I know or who you know how we can be mutually beneficial to each other and growing our ecosystem.

So heliumsem.com. I welcome any question, no matter how complex, no matter how you know, how, how basic it is. I ultimately, I want to. Make this space, a better space for student athletes across the country, whether they sign with us and work with us or not. I feel like an educated client is a better client and makes the entire landscape of NIL better for everyone.

So that’s kind of my approach to it. And I’m more than willing and more than happy to talk with brands. Of, of all sizes. Like I mentioned, we have 18 student athletes on roster currently. I shouldn’t say student athletes because we do have a pro. But we have 18 clients on roster currently and younot all of them are high major, not all of them have a ton of followers.

So we have a solution for any budget. You don’t have to look and think, oh man, we can’t do anything within this space or we can’t work in NIL. I’ll tell all small businesses that there’s an opportunity. If you really get granular and look at what your ultimate goal is, and that’s kind of we look at our agency, not just as a NIL agency and not just as a marketing agency, but as a strategy agency.

And we’re working along with the, the brands as well to make sure that we’re maximizing their ad spend. So yeah, I’m, I’m open to those conversations, no matter how big or how small a company is, no matter how big or how simple a question may be I’m here for it.  

[01:07:51] Mike Klinzing: That’s exciting stuff.  And knowing you like I do, I have no doubt that you’re going to succeed and you’re going to meet the goals that we talked about here tonight, and you’re going to have a tremendous amount of success with helium. So I want to say thanks to you again for jumping on for the third time. You’re in an exclusive club here on the who pets pod, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

So again, thank you so much for your time that I, Justin truly appreciate it. And it’s everyone out there. Thanks for listening. And we will catch you on our next episode. Thanks.