Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Teamworks, an athlete engagement platform that grew up in the college sports space and has since expanded to the professional ranks, announced yesterday that it has raised $25 million in Series C funding led by Delta-v Capital.

The big picture: The round also includes participation from new investors Afia Capital, a private investment platform backed by pro athletes, and Stadia Ventures, a global sports innovation hub.

How it works: There are so many moving parts within an elite sports organization: coaches, athletes, trainers, strength staff, nutritionists, marketers, sales teams, etc.

  • Teamworks' software connects those departments and allows them to communicate in one centralized location.
  • Think of it as Slack or G-Suite for sports organizations — a platform that can be customized through modules and plug-ins and allows them to fully digitize their operations.

The backdrop: Like the aforementioned Slack and G-Suite, plus other tools like Zoom, the COVID-19 pandemic has elevated Teamworks' core value proposition: how do sports organizations communicate when they're not in a building together?

  • "On one hand, we're definitely seeing a slow down in organizations wanting to sign on right now because so many are in a general spending freeze," CEO and founder Zach Maurides told me yesterday by phone.
  • "But given the current situation, we've gone from something that was maybe viewed as a competitive advantage to something that is now business critical," said Maurides, who came up with the idea for Teamworks in 2005, while playing football at Duke. "The organizations we serve have continued operating without skipping a beat."

What to watch: With the name, image and likeness (NIL) debate heating up, Teamworks is well-positioned to be the facilitator of deals between brands and college athletes once those are able to happen, all while allowing athletic departments to monitor activity and prove compliance.

  • More than 2,000 Division I teams use Teamworks, which means tens of thousands of student-athletes are already on the app. So it's not hard to imagine them toggling between talking to a coach and talking to a sponsor.
  • That would explain Teamworks' recent acquisition of athlete social media content delivery platform, INFLCR (similar to Opendorse), which was finalized with this latest round of funding.

Yes, but: As the NIL landscape takes shape, Teamworks will likely face stiff competition from competitors looking to help college athletes earn money, and leaning too heavily into that side of things could pull the company away from its core mission of helping organizations communicate.

Go deeper: No one knows when the coronavirus sports shutdown will end

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