Late last year I first met Antoine Meunier in person. We had already exchanged emails and spoken over Skype, but we both found ourselves in Florida together and used the opportunity to sit down, have a burrito, and finalize the sponsorship deal that would help Antoine in his quest to be part of the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

The Pitch

Antoine is the co-founder of Medalist, a website building platform for athletes, and an elite athlete competing internationally in the 200-meter canoe-kayak event with his sight set on the Rio 2016 Olympics. He has been a paddler since the age of 5 and was a two-time junior Panamerican Champion and a 6-time Canadian National Champion. Antoine is also a DNSimple customer, and this is one of the reason he originally emailed me in October last year to pitch his idea. He opened his email with the following lines:

Antoine Meunier, here. I'm a canoe-kayak athlete & co-founder of Medalist – a website builder for athlete that conveniently exploit the awesomeness of DNSimple to elevate ourselves as demi-gods in the eyes of our non-geeky athletes-customers.

True story: It takes me at most a minute to register a domain through DNSimple, set up the DNS (thank god for templates), link it up to our platform and show the athlete his/her website live on their .com. Every time it blows their mind! And they love it!

Naturally he had me hooked right from the beginning, because his opening was about DNSimple, not about himself. He went on to explain the reasons why he thought DNSimple would make a good sponsor to support him in his journey to the Olympics in Rio 2016:

  1. Medalist and DNSimple are bootstrapped and operate in a similar fashion.
  2. Medalist and DNSimple both appeal to specific communities (athletes and developers, respectively).
  3. His success as an athlete benefits DNSimple.

At the end of his email, he concluded with these lines:

Typical sponsorships in Olympic sports usually go like this: Company give money to the athlete in exchange for visibility, exposure and right to brand association… sounds boring, doesn't it?

…I have a better idea I'd like to discuss with you.

Let's catch up via skype/hangout if that works for you?

Again, he did exactly what he should have done: he whet my appetite but held off on delivering the details, suggesting instead that we connect directly. In the follow up email he set proposed specific times, making the conversation a no-brainer for me.

The Deal

After some back-and-forth we had a deal prepared, including ideas on how Antoine can deliver more value for DNSimple throughout the term of the sponsorship. We finalized a contract and closed the deal in November.

Since then, Antoine and I have been chatting on a regular basis. He has been publishing a series of educational articles that teach other athletes how to find and pitch potential sponsors. The articles are published at learn.medali.st. His article on how to reach potential sponsors with a well crafted cold email tells how he put together the initial email he sent and is a good example of the kind of thinking that makes me excited to work with him.

Will It Work?

That's the big question, isn't it. Clearly in the best-case scenario Antoine qualifies for the Olympics, does exceptionally well, stays healthy, and wins a gold medal. That would be an awesome outcome, but it's also a big challenge for him. In the meantime I am framing this partnership as follows:

  1. Antoine is a customer and fellow entrepreneur and helping him strive to reach his goals is good for both of us.
  2. The story is interesting, and as someone who loves the water and has surfed since I was 13, helping out a fellow athelete makes me feel good.
  3. The real opportunity is in being part of the story, regardless of the outcome.

With those points in mind the answer is simple: it's already working. I'm thrilled to be part of Antoine's journey to the olympics.