Brad Evans during his days with Seattle Sounders FC. (File photo by. / Kevin Lisota)
Brad Evans, the former Seattle Sounders FC star, said he never experienced any nervousness in his years playing professional soccer. He went to bed at the usual time, slept well, and woke up carefree. In front of 100,000 fans, he had a singular and calm approach.
In his first foray into running a tech startup, Evans is experiencing a variety of new emotions.
“I never had a problem sleeping until last year and I think I know why,” Evans said. “Playing soccer for 12 years was great, I was used to it. Now I am in a space where I am out of my element in everything that we are doing. I am learning completely as I go. It was crazy to be honest.
The technology and business aspects of launching his own company may be foreign, but Evans is working with producers and a product he knows well: sports stars and their memories. The startup is called Contrib, and the digital fundraising platform is another way to connect athletes and other influencers with their fans while raising money for charities.
While the auction for signed jerseys and other teams is certainly not new, Evans wants to tap into the immediate excitement surrounding a particular game and social media to make a significant impact.
Traditionally, Evans would donate a t-shirt or other item to a gala or other event hosted by a charity he supports. The audience with access to that article would be limited to the in-person event. Through Contrib and promotion on various social networks, Evans envisions a much wider audience and more charitable benefits for the souvenir dollars.
Brad Evans during a rally after Seattle Sounders FC’s first MLS Cup win in 2016 (File Photo by. / Kevin Lisota)
Here’s how it might work, using the old Sounder as an example:
Evans scores two goals in a game against Portland. In the locker room, take a video that says something like: “Brad Evans here and I just scored two goals in this shirt. For seven days it will be up for auction and the proceeds will go to Seattle Children’s Hospital. Athlete uploads Contrib and clicks “share across all platforms”. The video is also sent to the athlete’s social channels and fans who click the link are sent to Contrib, where they can bid. After seven days, the winner’s payment is processed. The contribution takes 15% and the remaining 85% is sent to the charity of the athlete’s choice.
“What I like about this is that it is really driven by the athlete and they have control over where those funds go,” Evans said. “Hopefully you get the full circle social experience where the winner can post to social media, the athlete can interact with that person. That’s where I think it all comes together.
That experience is somewhat reminiscent of Cameo, the video-sharing platform that has attracted athletes, musicians, actors, and more in an attempt to monetize selfies for fans. Seattle sports legends like Detlef Schrempf, Edgar Martinez, and Steve Largent are using Cameo to deliver birthday wishes and more.
Contrib launched with an auction for an Evans-signed Jimi Hendrix Sounders scarf that sold for $ 400 last week after attracting 33 bids. Proceeds will benefit the RAVE Foundation, the charitable arm of the Sounders, to help build mini soccer fields throughout the Seattle area.
The first article on @ContribInc is active and LIVE with the proceeds benefiting @RaveFound, click on the link and start bidding. https://t.co/n8LN5IydPi pic.twitter.com/bm6OXFLxY7
– brad evans (@ brad_evans3) May 29, 2021
Evans initially turns to his friends and people he knows to help him get Contrib up and running, so the soccer team will be popular at first. A Jordan Morris jersey is expected to arrive at the venue this week, and could follow signed goalkeeper gloves by Stefan Frei or cleats by Cristian Roldan. Evans wants to have a solid platform up and running when he gets close to other stars, like Sue Bird or Megan Rapinoe.
And he sees Contrib auctions go beyond sports memorabilia, including things like a popular band’s song list after a concert or experimental items like a dinner with someone like the Seattle hip-hop star. Macklemore or a round of golf with Evans and Morris.
“My brain goes to a million different places,” Evans said.
Contrib gained initial endorsement from David Cantu and Rick Cantu, the co-founders of Redapt, the Seattle-area technology solutions provider. Jared Wray, Co-Founder and CTO of Palmetto Logistics and Software Platform, provides technical expertise to help Evans resolve any Contrib issue.
In the first few months, Evans believes that walking and then running will be slow as he gets on board with more personalities and builds enthusiasm for what he’s building. He is excited about his commitment to helping nonprofits.
Ultimately, I wanted to get money to the people who needed it most. That was the main goal, ”Evans said. “And as athletes, there is no better way to do it than with memorabilia.”