Tiki Barber Wants to Make It Easier for Brands to Find Their Pitchmen

Former NFL star launches Thuzio 360

Tiki Barber is following in Derek Jeter's cleat-steps on the "athlete-turned-mogul" track. The former New York Giants running back has set his sights on the talent booking industry.

Along with Mark Gerson—who co-founded Gerson Lehrman Group—Barber has launched Thuzio, which promises to provide businesses and professionals an all-access pass to celebrity talent through a comprehensive online platform, Thuzio 360.

"We saw an issue with connecting athletes and celebs who have brands with potential consumers," Barber tells Adweek. "We realized there was no platform for that to happen."

Thuzio 360 offers subscribers commercial profiles of nearly 30,000 influencers spanning the worlds of sports, TV, film, lifestyle, music and food. Jared Augustine, Thuzio's CEO, says the database will jump to "several hundred thousand" within the next 18 months. Profiles have information regarding stars' social-media activity—including the combined reach of all social platforms—what brands they have worked with, and what organizations and charities they support. Thuzio has over 1,500 tags breaking down different qualities. It also features the estimated price it would take to book the influencer, as well as agent information.

"This kind of qualitative tag information and the brand context is really important to marketers who are looking to make a specific qualitative match with their brand," said Augustine. "And on the brand side who they've worked with in the past is obviously important in the decision making process to avoid conflict."

Thuzio's subscribers include marketing, public relations and ad agencies as well as companies ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 brands. Barber will present the platform at upcoming industry gatherings PRWeek, Advertising Week and Web Summit.

With Thuzio, Barber becomes the latest professional athlete to launch a career away from the playing field. Earlier this year Jeter launched The Players' Tribune, while New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony has partnered with Vice Sports on a video series that follows athletes' exploits off the field.

"I think a lot of athletes are going to start down this path," said Barber. "They realize they are more valuable than just what happens on Sunday afternoon. There is street smarts, there is an access smartness that they have developed over their careers that's very valuable in corporate America."

And the celebrities taking part in Thuzio 360 are looking to broaden their own horizons. "Athletes and other influencers are trying to extend their brand [and] become more than just a person that scores a touchdown," said Barber, who scored 55 touchdowns in his 10-year NFL career.