TWMX All Access: Sponsorhouse.com’s Scott Tilton

It never fails¿we frequently get e-mails and letters at TransWorld Motocross asking for sponsorship. It’s not that we’re not flattered, but we often feel like riders are confused on the idea of what we could actually do for them, or what sponsorship really entails. Even more interesting (or troubling) are the requests for sponsorship that start with, “I want to start racing, but need a sponsor.”

We’re not alone. Ask around the industry, and any sponsorship coordinator can provide examples of poorly written requests for assistance. As one said, “If you knew the crap people sent me as resumes, you’d die.”

Over at Sponsorhouse.com, they’ve come up with an entirely different method for matching up riders and potential sponsors, all via the web. Riders can get educated on what responsibilities a sponsorship entails, produce their online resume, and submit it to companies that interest them. The companies can view resumes and select riders to support, as well as stay in contact with them. We asked Engine Ice’s Dave Kimmey how it helped him deal with sponsorship requests, and he said, “It’s a great program for the companies. Those guys are lifesavers¿and time and mind-savers, too. If not for them, I’d need an entire file cabinet for the resumes, and someone just to deal with them.”

To find out more about how Sponsorhouse is changing the way sponsorships get handled,, we got in touch with Scott Tilton ¿ Co-Founder/President of SponsorHouse.com.

Answer this question once and for all¿do you need a sponsorship so that you can start racing?

No. Sponsorship is something that is earned as a rider progresses through their career. First and second year riders should be focused on becoming better riders and accomplishing the goals they set for themselves. As riders start finishing well at local, regional, or national events, it¿s a natural thing to start seeking some support to be able to afford to attend more races in more areas.  In the olden days, companies didn¿t provide support like they do today. Now that it is available in various forms from discounts to cash, riders need to respect it and remember it wasn¿t always this way.

What’s the history behind SponsorHouse? Why did it start, how’d it start, who’s behind it?

SponsorHouse was started by myself and RJ Kraus back in August 2001 from our hometown in Warwick, NY. We were really good friends growing up and raced moto together since we were 12 years old. From a young age, we understood the meaning of sponsorship and marketing. Being the only two guys who raced motocross in our town, we started a small local team called `Team Warwick¿ back in 1994 (at age 17) and secured all kinds of local stores, restaurants, and car dealers to help us out with donations, food, spark plugs, you name it. They all expected things from us in exchange for their support, which forced us to `get it¿ real quick and deliver some value to keep them happy and the donations flowing.

RJ and I went our separate ways for college and following school I started a company called LAAS (Land Air Action Sports) that provided sports marketing and Internet related services for the industry.

I hooked up with Gary Mills (Father of Ryan Mills) one weekend at a local race in New York and offered some help to create his resume, find more sponsors, and handle the updates for his sponsors by building Ryan a website. The word got out quick and a lot of riders started asking for help. Since most of them were the fastest in the area I did all the work for free and since SponsorHouse.com wasn¿t around at that point, it took a lot of time to do it the old-fashioned way stuffing envelopes and making calls.

I was back in school at that time honing my `tech¿ skills and the idea for an online sponsorship service juspopped one night while working on one of the rider¿s resumes¿I was just thinking, ¿It would be so much easier if the riders and companies could work together directly doing all this online¿. I sat down with RJ, who had been helping me out a lot with LAAS when he wasn¿t working for GE, and the dream was born. I sat down and wrote the business plan, RJ came up with the name, we quit our full-time jobs and the rest is history. We worked for two years with no salaries and 100 hour weeks to make the dream a reality and worked our butts off to show the industry how things could be different.

Our working relationship is pretty unique. In the beginning we were working out of a small apartment 100 hours a week while traveling to events all over the country. We spend A LOT of time together working and have managed not to kill each other yet. Michael Young and Rich Houseman are our newest in-house pros that help with taking care of all the motocross, BMX, and mountain bike guys.

Is this the big season for resumes?

For sure. Following Loretta¿s is when all the companies kick into high gear and start accepting resumes for the upcoming season. Most start accepting in September through the end of the year and some will accept all year.

You guys cover a variety of sports now (BMX, MX, MTB, road racing, snocross, and watercraft). What was the original area you started in?

Come on¿Moto of course! We¿re really into the other sports as well and we both raced BMX before motocross and still race downhill mountain bikes, but moto has and always will be our true passion with our history riding and racing.

What’s the cost of a membership?

Riders pay a $50 annual membership fee for an account on our site. It works out to be less expensive that contacting companies the old way with nice color print outs and postage.  Mail is a thing of the past with regards to sponsorship.

With an account, riders get¿ exposure for their riding 24/7, tools, resources and news updated daily, a place to communicate with their sponsors and a place to communicate with other riders. 

It¿s really a no-brainer and most companies we work with will tell you that.

We’ve always heard that real estate is the best investment. Is a membership at SponsorHouse equally wise?

You know it. Receiving support and communicating directly with companies in the industry is the best way to get to that next level. It¿s a small investment for the support and exposure you receive. Compared to the ‘old fashioned’ way of contacting companies and managing sponsorships, SponsorHouse has so much available to riders. 

Riders are constantly asking TransWorld Motocross for sponsorships. What should we give them?

First ask them what they had in mind and see what response you get. Politely remind them that you are a magazine and that you aren¿t giving away factory rides until next season.

Or you can ask them what they can do for TransWorld to help you sell more subscriptions, and show them the ‘ole cost/benefit and see if it makes sense to sponsor them.  If so, find something that would make the relationship mutually beneficial, where they can help you to sell subscriptions and you can help them get as many cover shots as Stewart.

Which companies use SponsorHouse.com?

It¿s easier to say which companies don¿t use SponsorHouse. In all, there are 170 companies currently set up who use our site to sponsor riders. The first base of companies is what helped us get to this point. The day we launched on August 20, 2001 we had six companies¿Pro Circuit, Scott USA, EVS, Hinson Clutch Components, Engine Ice, and Maxima Lubricants. It¿s been accepted pretty well since then.

How does it help them? Just from an organizational standpoint? Or do they also get better quality riders and/or resumes?

The main benefit is that companies aren¿t inundated with mail anymore. Many people don¿t realize how much of an undertaking it really is to manage a sponsorship program where thousands of riders contact you for sponsorship. There are more riders looking for support than ever before with the increasing number of people who race and the amount of raw talent on the scene today.

Companies need ways to streamline their businesses to keep up with the times. With the technology and computers available now there are easy ways for companies to keep innovating these days. Some companies get contacted by upwards of 10,000 riders each fall who all need a response one way or the other. You can imagine the time and money it takes in paper and postage to handle all that. Rather than taking months to get back to riders with the old mail process, SponsorHouse.com allows companies to do it in days with virtually no expense.

The past three years has given us a lot of opportunities to refine and better the service based on feedback from our members and companies. We¿ve launched a new version every year since we started. The goal for our most recent V4 Launch is to help riders transition up the ladder. Riders are presented to companies in a way that helps team managers get a better understanding of how each rider can benefit their program. Obviously, amateur and pro riders need to be presented to sponsors differently as they fall into different areas of a company¿s sponsorship program.

SponsorHouse.com does all this for the companies and riders to make the `connection¿ as easy and effective as possible.

How many members on the moto side?

We just topped 5,000 this year.  Because of this, most of the riders normally contacting companies by mail can now do it through our site. That¿s why you see many companies asking to contact them through SponsorHouse.com these days since the response is faster and easier.

How are renewals? Once they sign up, are they sticking with you?

We had our growing pains and skepticism from early members and companies, but overall everyone sees the value of working together through SponsorHouse.com rather than by mail. It¿s a complete package that organizes their entire program in one spot. Riders can search, receive offers, sign contracts, and order product all while dealing directly with the team manager.

Is there a way to measure what percentage of riders pick up support? Or can a rider almost always pick up some kind of discount deal?

Deals exist for all levels of riders since companies look to sponsorship as a way to increase sales and locate loyal supporters of their brand. Every company is different, but our system has been very successful for a large number of riders.

Can you place a dollar value on benefits received?

It all depends on the rider and how much they do for their sponsors. Let¿s just say the $50 fee more than pays for itself. Check out this testimonial from a parent of one of our members:

¿Kory is our only kid so we just go with the flow and am having fun with the hopes that he learns some valuable skills for his future-whatever it may be!! Over the past year two years we have heard SO many positive things about SponsorHouse. In fact, a couple of weeks ago at LACR a kid parked next to us was telling us about ALL his sponsors that he got from SponsorHouse.com and he was beaming with pride. Whether or not the sponsorship makes a BIG or SMALL financial difference to the rider–I feel it is ultimately more important that the rider (especially the young ones like mine), feel better about themselves by having support from those who care to take the time to look at him!!¿

Is it possible to put a price on that?

What levell standpoint? Or do they also get better quality riders and/or resumes?

The main benefit is that companies aren¿t inundated with mail anymore. Many people don¿t realize how much of an undertaking it really is to manage a sponsorship program where thousands of riders contact you for sponsorship. There are more riders looking for support than ever before with the increasing number of people who race and the amount of raw talent on the scene today.

Companies need ways to streamline their businesses to keep up with the times. With the technology and computers available now there are easy ways for companies to keep innovating these days. Some companies get contacted by upwards of 10,000 riders each fall who all need a response one way or the other. You can imagine the time and money it takes in paper and postage to handle all that. Rather than taking months to get back to riders with the old mail process, SponsorHouse.com allows companies to do it in days with virtually no expense.

The past three years has given us a lot of opportunities to refine and better the service based on feedback from our members and companies. We¿ve launched a new version every year since we started. The goal for our most recent V4 Launch is to help riders transition up the ladder. Riders are presented to companies in a way that helps team managers get a better understanding of how each rider can benefit their program. Obviously, amateur and pro riders need to be presented to sponsors differently as they fall into different areas of a company¿s sponsorship program.

SponsorHouse.com does all this for the companies and riders to make the `connection¿ as easy and effective as possible.

How many members on the moto side?

We just topped 5,000 this year.  Because of this, most of the riders normally contacting companies by mail can now do it through our site. That¿s why you see many companies asking to contact them through SponsorHouse.com these days since the response is faster and easier.

How are renewals? Once they sign up, are they sticking with you?

We had our growing pains and skepticism from early members and companies, but overall everyone sees the value of working together through SponsorHouse.com rather than by mail. It¿s a complete package that organizes their entire program in one spot. Riders can search, receive offers, sign contracts, and order product all while dealing directly with the team manager.

Is there a way to measure what percentage of riders pick up support? Or can a rider almost always pick up some kind of discount deal?

Deals exist for all levels of riders since companies look to sponsorship as a way to increase sales and locate loyal supporters of their brand. Every company is different, but our system has been very successful for a large number of riders.

Can you place a dollar value on benefits received?

It all depends on the rider and how much they do for their sponsors. Let¿s just say the $50 fee more than pays for itself. Check out this testimonial from a parent of one of our members:

¿Kory is our only kid so we just go with the flow and am having fun with the hopes that he learns some valuable skills for his future-whatever it may be!! Over the past year two years we have heard SO many positive things about SponsorHouse. In fact, a couple of weeks ago at LACR a kid parked next to us was telling us about ALL his sponsors that he got from SponsorHouse.com and he was beaming with pride. Whether or not the sponsorship makes a BIG or SMALL financial difference to the rider–I feel it is ultimately more important that the rider (especially the young ones like mine), feel better about themselves by having support from those who care to take the time to look at him!!¿

Is it possible to put a price on that?

What level of rider benefits the most from a membership at SponsorHouse?

The service benefits all levels of riders. When I mentioned helping to move riders up the ladder, I meant that we have different levels of service for each type of rider. For example, we focus on helping provide younger and new riders with sponsorship education and access to companies and dealers who they weren¿t aware supported riders. While for top amateurs and pros, we provide a way for them to receive more exposure to their accomplishments and a new way for potential sponsors to find and contact them. The system is really broad and helps all types of companies regardless of the size of their program. It¿s all about everyone being `In the House¿.

So what kind of house is SponsorHouse? Is it a condo? English Tudor? Ranch style?

SponsorHouse used to be a one-bedroom apartment, and then became an RV that was our headquarters and home for six months while we made the transition from New York to California. Now it¿s a real office with desks, employees, and everything. We still have the RV, which has taken a serious beating over the years, but will probably always be considered `The House¿.

Contact:

Sponsorhouse
305 Airport Rd. #200
Oceanside, CA 92018
(888) 874-3374
www.sponsorhouse.com

evel of rider benefits the most from a membership at SponsorHouse?

The service benefits all levels of riders. When I mentioned helping to move riders up the ladder, I meant that we have different levels of service for each type of rider. For example, we focus on helping provide younger and new riders with sponsorship education and access to companies and dealers who they weren¿t aware supported riders. While for top amateurs and pros, we provide a way for them to receive more exposure to their accomplishments and a new way for potential sponsors to find and contact them. The system is really broad and helps all types of companies regardless of the size of their program. It¿s all about everyone being `In the House¿.

So what kind of house is SponsorHouse? Is it a condo? English Tudor? Ranch style?

SponsorHouse used to be a one-bedroom apartment, and then became an RV that was our headquarters and home for six months while we made the transition from New York to California. Now it¿s a real office with desks, employees, and everything. We still have the RV, which has taken a serious beating over the years, but will probably always be considered `The House¿.

Contact:

Sponsorhouse
305 Airport Rd. #200
Oceanside, CA 92018
(888) 874-3374
www.sponsorhouse.com