Today we are proud to announce Campus Ink has secured a $2 million round of funding to continue growing its name, image and likeness (NIL) student merchandise platform. Led by Chicago’s LightBank, a second investment from Mark Cuban, and further participation from Capital Innovators, Irish Angels, West Suburban Angels, Connetic Ventures, High Street Equity Partners and The Dike Family Partnership, the investment will allow the platform to substantially scale to universities, students and athletes around the country.
Campus Ink believes athletes and students should come first in the conversation and be fairly compensated for sales, pushing the limits on what was previously thought achievable. The platform provides inclusive and holistic merchandising options for all athletes of all sports in the NIL space.
Mark Cuban Makes Second Investment
Campus Ink proved the model at the University of Illinois last season, making its men’s basketball student-athletes over $100,000 during the regular season selling NIL licensed merchandise. Mark Cuban’s initial investment and vote of confidence last February expedited our growth, amounting to partnerships with nearly 25 schools that will support more than 2,000 athletes, all in six short months. The renewed commitment, mentorship, and guidance of Mark Cuban has been invaluable.
“When I invested in Campus Ink six months ago, they had one school and 15 athletes,” Cuban said. “Now, they’re working with nearly 25 schools and thousands of athletes with no signs of slowing down. Campus Ink is disrupting the NIL space on behalf of college athletes for the better.”
Last month, programs at Indiana, Purdue and San Diego State successfully launched with more than 200 athletes. Every athlete has their own locker room featuring personalized merchandise connected to their social accounts. A recent partnership with Meta has helped athlete activation, allowing fans to buy directly from an athlete’s Instagram page.
Campus Ink Develops Wholesale Jersey NIL Program
The platform has partnered with school bookstores like Gameday Spirit, Legends and Follett to carry NIL apparel. Retailers can select which players and merchandise they’d like on their shelves while the platform takes care of paying the athletes. At Illinois, last season fans purchased nearly 4,000 NIL Illini basketball jerseys both online and through their in-venue partner at Gameday Spirit.
At Indiana, Campus Ink helped facilitate an NIL poster deal that made Indiana’s men’s and women’s basketball players nearly $15,000. Last spring, All-American pitcher Keely Rochard became the first Virginia Tech athlete to sell co-licensed apparel. At Purdue, the women’s volleyball program has been a top-grossing channel, led by freshman star Eva Hudson. These are just a few of the experiences athletes have had with Campus Ink.
A portion of the investment will go towards growing Campus Ink’s NIL Private Label Jersey program which makes athletes 20-30 percent per unit sold. Campus Ink has a solution available to all sports and all athletes which include hockey, baseball, and softball jerseys (and more), in addition to football and basketball jerseys.
Rooted in education, Campus Ink employs more than 200 students across 40 campuses who design and sell to campus organizations. The program works with students who are non-athletes, teaching them skills such as design, sales, branding, account management and marketing. Campus Ink remains a key leader in greek licensed apparel as official merchandiser for fraternity headquarters and will continue to grow that segment of the business.
What They’re Saying:
Lightbank VC, Jyothi Vallurpalli
“Steven and the team are a group of relentless entrepreneurs whose traction and capital efficiency stood out from day one. As the NIL market has taken off, they are uniquely positioned leaders in the space. Their athlete-first approach, and unwavering passion for empowering athletes, no matter how big or small, will change the lives of countless student athletes, and we could not be prouder to be working with them.”
Capital Innovators CEO & Managing Partner, Judy Sindecuse
“Campus Ink has recently demonstrated rapid growth and we believe in its vision as a pioneer in the merchandising industry.”
“When I invested in Campus Ink six months ago they had one school and 15 athletes. Now they have more than 20 schools and over 600 athletes with no signs of slowing down. Campus Ink is disrupting the NIL space on behalf of college athletes for the better.”
High Street Equity Partners Managing Partner, Mitch Brooks
“We are witnessing Campus Ink take flight and master the NIL landscape, first-hand. They are building campus marketplaces by the droves, and we are proud to be making this investment.”
Connetic Ventures General Partner, Hjelm (via its Wendal (AI) database):
- Campus Ink scored in the top 2-percent of all companies (8,500) in the Wendal database
- CEO Steven Farag was identified as a top leader with ideal traits (leadership, proactivity and drive) to build a successful company
- Campus Ink has the most well-balanced team of any company it has ever evaluated
- The likelihood of success is three times higher than the average startup
Campus Ink CEO & Co-Founder, Steven Farag
“At Campus Ink, we exist to change the lives of students. Some just happen to be athletes. The company grew by teaching life skills to students, enabling them to design and sell to organizations. When the NIL opportunity presented itself, we were positioned. We set out on a journey last February to roll this out to athletes and schools everywhere and the feedback and receptiveness has been incredible. The NIL Community has been truly great to us.”
Campus Ink NIL Director, Adam Cook
“When sweeping changes occur like they have in the NCAA, it provides an opportunity. More importantly, it’s an opportunity to get that change right. Campus Ink is doing that and I’m grateful to be a part of that change while having such wonderful support from our partners.”