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Detroit-based company makes it to final round of BET pitch competition

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Ashton Keys’ favorite pastime as a kid in Detroit was walking around the corner of his house on the west side and practicing shots at the neighborhood basketball edge.

The keys practiced for hours, aiming at just the right angle for the ball to swing through the net.

Years later, Michigan State University alum turned that same dedication and love for the sport into a startup that is now competing in a pitch competition for a $ 1 million prize.

“I feel like I worked for this moment and I’m thrilled to finally have the opportunity to empower myself to grow our business,” said Keys, 25.

Keys and co-founder Jared Eummer founded Athlytic, a fully integrated marketplace to connect college athletes with advertising contract brands.

After a year of making hundreds of calls with athletes and brand marketers for research and development purposes, Keys and Eummer will be showcasing their company during the Mountain Dew Real Change Opportunity Fund pitch competition broadcast on BET and VH1 becomes.

The Athlytic team survived three rounds of the competition to make it as one of the last five participants. Each of the finalists will receive a portion of the $ 1 million fund, with the winner receiving the most money.

On Wednesday, Keys and Eummer will reach out to celebrity judges like actress La La Anthony to stand up for the big cash prize and a partnership with iHeart Media.

“We saw a significant niche in the market where states are giving athletes the opportunity to make money, monetize their name, and connect with endorsement partners, but it wasn’t a really good way for them to do it, and we did want to do it. ” Platform to help them identify the right partners so they can realize their potential, “said Keys, Michigan State graduate in 2018.

According to Keys, Athlytic’s goal is to help athletes develop their brand identity while also giving students the opportunity to get paid from doing business with other brands.

In December, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a non-partisan bill allowing college athletes to benefit from their own Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) from December 2022. Michigan was among the first to allow college athletes to benefit financially while attending college.

Keys said the Athlytic app will go online in July for college athletes in Mississippi and Florida, where legislation will go into effect for students to be compensated.

The move to allow student compensation has met opposition from those who believe it will affect college sports and threaten universities and colleges.

Ashton Keys, a native of Detroit and MSU alum, commissioned a billboard in Indianapolis during March Madness of the NCAA for his company Athlytic.

“Some people think we ask universities to fund athletes, but we don’t want to take away dollars from the marketing and television rights universities get,” said Eummer, 27, who graduated from Florida in 2017 A&M University did. “We’re not trying to make sure coaches get less money, but rather that athletes are able to monetize what they bring to the table.”

Keys and Eummer touted their support for students who benefited from NIL by commissioning a billboard during the NCAA’s March Madness tournament in Indianapolis.

The billboard was displayed to support the # notNCAAproperty movement. University of Michigan forward Isaiah Livers and two other players met with NCAA President Mark Emmert to discuss the move and calls for changes to how college athletes can be compensated.

Michigan's Isaiah Livers wears a t-shirt that says

According to Keys, the players’ reform struggle is the driving force behind Athlytic.

“We understand the challenges some student athletes face in sport, whether it is the financial burden of being in poverty … but also from a social perspective, we believe it is their right to be able to monetize their name.” Key said.

Viewers can see Keys and Eummer presenting their company on BET, VH1 and Youtube Live on Wednesday.

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Dusty Kennedy