President and CEO of Brand Affinity Technologies
Thirty-five-year-old Ryan Steelberg has earned a reputation as one of the leading experts in digital and online media, and his company, Brand Affinity Technologies, matches an impressive number of athletes and other celebrities with advertisers. The company has signed more than 1,400 athletes – including Rajon Rondo, Deion Sanders and Emmitt Smith – in just over a year’s time. Since 1996, Steelberg has raised more than $150 million in equity financing while managing more than 400 employees and creating an excess of $3 billion in shareholder value.
Most important lesson learned:
Never burn bridges. Business circles, in certain categories, like information services and media, are smaller than you think.
Next big step:
Brand Affinity Technologies (BAT) – where we are reinventing the business of endorsement marketing for the online world by making it easy and affordable for advertisers of all sizes to launch ad campaigns featuring athletes and celebrities. Currently, our platform features more than 1,700 top athletes and celebrities and is used by leading advertisers to identify, license and activate higher performing marketing campaigns. Our celebrity roster includes marquee active and retired players in nearly every sport, including Drew Brees (NFL), Josh Hamilton (MLB), Rajon Rondo (NBA), Brooks Robinson (MLB – Hall of Fame), Emmitt Smith (NFL - retired), and Lennox Lewis (boxing).
Advice for other young professionals:
Do not be afraid to make the big decision, and stick to it.
What you do for fun:
Spend time with my family. Play sports: golf, ski, volleyball. Build companies.
If you could have dinner with anyone – alive or dead – who would it be and why?
My deceased paternal grandfather, Wesley Steelberg, who passed when I was 8 years old. This God-fearing man was a very entrepreneurial Pentecostal minister who built dozens of churches across the U.S., survived six heart attacks and saved thousands of souls. I simply failed to have the opportunity to learn from this amazing man.
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