Boston-based Gameface Media, a company that has found an opportunity to merge the worlds of amateur sports and social/viral marketing, announced that it has raised $2.5 million in funding from a group of individual investors.
The business model that Gameface is shaking up is the traditional manner in which photographs of event participants are sold to competitors in road races and marathons, triathlons, and adventure races. After the races, the company that took the official photographs of the event would offer individualized pictures to runners for a fee.
As Gameface chief executive David Lavallee said, under the old model, “Purchase rates have dropped precipitously over the past 10 years.” He also said that the biggest complaints that event directors received from participants had to do with the post-race picture offerings.
Gameface makes those photographs free for competitors by having a sponsor underwrite the cost of the pictures. Lavallee said the opportunity for engagement is unique for marketers and advertisers. “It’s a truly authentic viral marketing opportunity because people share these on their own volition,” he added.
As far as the marketing personalization of Gameface’s product, Lavallee said that “this is the most compelling digital content in the world—it’s a picture of you doing something you really love to do.”
The funding will allow the company to expand its marketing and sales force and make a push to grow in the youth sports market.
“We’ve just launched in the youth sports market in the last six months,” Lavallee said. “We have been doing a lot of lacrosse and soccer tournaments as well as some kid’s ski races. That stuff really exploded, the results from the initial tests in that market were even better than the adventure races.”
With offices on Kingston Street in the Leather District (the area known as Terrible Row), Gameface currently has 22 employees and more than 1,000 freelance photographers in its network.
The company also has relationships with quite a few races including Warrior Dash and Tough Mudder.