Friends in high places can help your company take off--but big endorsements cost big bucks. See how these companies found famous fans.When Shaun Neff launched Neff Headwear a decade ago, he knew his streetwear line could get a big boost if he could find some high-profile fans. But as a start-up, he lacked the cash needed to pay celebrities to endorse his products. So he reached out instead to users who'd have street (or ski slope) cred, giving away Neff beanies and headbands to amateur snowboarders.The brand took off, eventually picking up genuine organic interest from celebrities like Lil Wayne. And as the company expanded beyond the “surf, skate, and snow” niche, Neff was able to start paying celebs to wear his wares.
Relationship Science founder Neal Goldman has built what he likes to call “the Death Star of business development.”Maybe you know Neal Goldman. Or maybe you know someone who does. A minor celebrity in both Davos and Big Data circles, Goldman sold his first company for $225 million, back when less than a billion dollars was actually worth something. Tonight, I am meeting him for the first time, sharing a train ride to Philadelphia, where I’ll get to hear him pitch his latest company, Relationship Science.While waiting in the maelstrom of NYC’s Penn Station, I run through what I’ve learned about him: where he went to school, where his sister-in-law works, and how much cash he donated to Rudy Giuliani’s presidential campaign ($6,900).
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