By Barry Janoff
March 24, 2014: Having recently signed a two-year, $48.5 million contract extension that all but likely will put a bookend to what will then be a 20-year playing career, Kobe Bryant has now taken the next step in his post-playing career.
According to the 35-year-old Bryant, he has formed his own company, Kobe, Inc., to launch businesses and to invest in other.
Bryant took the first step in that direction when he made what was called a "significant investment" in premium sports drink BodyArmor, which is trying to take market and marketing share from PepsiCo's Gatorade, Coca-Cola's PowerAde and others in the category.
"I believe in innovation that will help athletes train and perform at their best," Bryant wrote on his Instagram page. "Finally we have a product that is the upgrade athletes have been silently demanding for years!"
Bryant becomes the company's No. 3 investor, behind co-founders Mike Repole and Lance Collins. BodyArmor said that with his investment, "Bryant will become an influential partner and board member in the beverage start-up and will work closely with Repole and Collins to continue to build the growing brand."
According to Repole and Collins, Bryant will be involved in all "facets of the business, including product development, innovation, marketing, expansion markets and overall growth strategy for the company." They said that Bryant has been collaborating with the executive team for several months on marketing initiatives, innovation and roll-out of the recently launched BodyArmor flavors.
The brand's co-founders already have a strong track record in the industry. Repole sold Glaceau Vitaminwater and Smartwater for $4.1 billion and Collins sold Fuze and NOS for $250 million, both deal coming with the Coca-Cola Co. in 2007.
“I’ve had a long successful career in basketball, one I’m excited to continue, but I also am planning for a long and successful career as an entrepreneur.“
“I’ve had a long successful career in basketball, one I’m excited to continue, but I also am planning for a long and successful career as an entrepreneur, “ Bryant said in a statement. “BodyArmor is a brand that I wanted to be a part of in a big way. Today’s athletes understand how nutrition impacts performance — and there’s nothing that compares to BodyArmor, which is why I chose to invest and become a partner.”
According to Bryant, who has spent his entire NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers, said he first tried BodyArmor last summer while he was rehabilitating his knee and then, after contacting and connecting with Repole, he became interested in getting involved.
Bryant has played just six games this season, first recovering from a torn Achilles tendon suffered in April 2013, then missing the latter part of the 2013-14 campaign after breaking his left knee in December.
BodyArmor has been very active of late, signing to deals as partners and investors James Harden of the Houston Rockets and Kevin Love (pictured) of the Minnesota Timberwolves, the brand's first NBA endorsers.
The brand's roster also includes NFL players Andrew Luck, LeSean McCoy and Rob Gronkowski; and MLB players Mike Trout and Buster Posey.
“Kobe brings with him a relentless drive to win, and after our conversations I realized his passion and intensity is not just on the court — it’s in everything he does,” Repole said in a statement. “I’d rather be on his team than compete against him and his insight as an elite athlete will be invaluable to BodyArmor.”
“Today’s athletes are demanding an upgraded sports drink, and BodyArmor is better than outdated, traditional sports drinks in every way,” said Repole.
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