The twin brothers who built a sports media brand around coverage of high school athletes added some big-name players to their investment roster: NBA All-Star Dwyane Wade, Grammy-winning recording artist Drake and Otter Media.
Together with backing from NBA standouts LeBron James and Kevin Durant, brothers Brandon and Bradley Deyo have raised an initial funding round of $4.7 million for youth sports brand, Mars Reel.
“We’re one of the largest sports media brands in the U.S. for kids as young as 16,” said Brandon Deyo.
Mars Reel got it start as the solution to a practical problem: how does a kid growing up in a single-parent household in Rockville, Maryland, without the resources to attend some pricy training camp, attract the attention of college scouts?
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Bradley Deyo posed that question to a college basketball coach, who suggested that the young player’s prospects might improve if the coach could watch video of him playing competitively against incoming recruits.The brothers posted a highlight reel on YouTube, hoping to grab the attention of college recruiters.
That video didn’t lead to a college scholarship, but it did attract plenty of notice.
“These athletes had followings,” said Brandon Deyo.
The brothers, who had been enrolled at the University of Maryland, dropped out in their sophomore year to launch their business. They initially produced and distributed short-form highlight videos of high school basketball players.
The company evolved to producer longer-form programs such as Mars Reel Chronicles, a video diary series following the lives of up-and-coming basketball players, and Life on Mars, a documentary series profiling athletes who overcome long odds to accomplish their dreams.
Now, they boast a network of hundreds of reporters and video journalists who cover games around the country. The focus has expanded to include high school football and women’s hoops. And the audience is growing: Mars Reel videos attract about 30 million views a month.
“Mars Reel is a true innovator and we are exited to invest in young, passionate entrepreneurs like Brandon and Bradley, who know and understand their audience,” Otter Media CEO Tony Goncalves said in a statement.
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