Inside Tiki Barber's Rent-An-Athlete Business

After star New York Giants running back Tiki Barber retired from the game in 2006, he was supposed to be the next big television personality.

When that didn’t pan out, he founded the rent-an-athlete marketplace Thuzio in 2012. His detractors found the venture — in which a couple grand got you a golf game with Derrick Coleman and five hundred bucks got you lunch with Barber — to be a tacky and desperate move.

By late 2013, fans can still pay for personalised video messages or a game of flag football, but Thuzio has become a go-to destination for corporations and ad agencies looking to impress clients or inspire their workforce.

AdAge took a look at the company with Barber, who told them that Thuzio began changing into a business-to-business organisation after the success of his and former New England Patriots running back Kevin Faulk’s participation in Reebok’s Spartan Races. Their participation got featured on ESPN’s SportsCenter, bringing attention to the race that was much less well-known than its Tough Mudder competitor.

You can watch Tiki fight through the obstacle course beginning at 5:16:

Rebook only spent $US7,000 but got valuable media coverage.

Barber realised that Thuzio could provide corporations and ad agencies with an interesting way to entertain clients.

Here’s former pitcher Roger Clemens’ profile with a list of activities and their prices. He’s one of the most in-demand and expensive athletes in the roster:

And here’s Super Bowl-winning coach Brian Billick, another popular choice:

“…There’s never been a way to easily access the talent. At least without knowing somebody or knowing their agent. We’ve taken all of that market — and put into an ecommerce marketplace which is unique,” Barber told AdAge.

The Thuzio marketplace has grown to include over 1,000 former athletes, coaches, and entertainers. 60-five per cent of Thuzio’s clients are corporations, rather than individuals. These have included PepsiCo, Barclays, and Yahoo.

You can still get a personalised video message for $US99 though, like this one from former Boston Celtic Gerald Henderson telling the message recipient named John why his steal, not Larry’s Bird’s, was the greatest in history:

Read the full interview with Barber on AdAge.

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