Vinta Supply Co. never imagined getting involved in sports before former NFL MVP Cam Newton reached out to partner with the company. Then again, the startup’s entry into the travel industry was not planned either.
Vinta launched in 2015 as a maker of fashionable camera bags before expanding its merchandise to travel accessories – following two Kickstarter campaigns that raised more than $250,000 for the brand.
The New York City-based online retailer now sells backpacks, field packs, and other products to a core group of customers that include photographers, videographers, and drone racers, according to Douglas Larsen, Vinta’s co-founder and lead designer.
“Our target audience is anyone who has breakable items that they like to travel with,” said Larsen. “We’ve come to find that regular travelers love our bags for this purpose – to protect their iPad’s, smartphones, and work gear.”
Vinta’s recently announced partnership with Newton is the retailer’s first foray into sports marketing. The opportunity made perfect sense for the brand, given the Carolina Panthers quarterback’s reputation as a member of a new era of lifestyle fashion, Larsen added.
For Newton, his deal with Vinta makes him a creative and equity partner in the company. The investment in Vinta also adds to the multiple off-the-field initiatives the athlete has launched in recent years, including a new $7 million cigar bar opened in Atlanta earlier this year, Deadline reported. The NFL star additionally created his own production company, Iconic Saga Productions, in 2016.
This is just the latest example of NFL players joining forces with niche startups. Other recent examples include Aaron Donald buying an ownership stake deal in sports beverage company Ready Nutrition, Larry Fitzgerald’s investment in Mercury – a self-described “bank for startups” – and Richard Sherman’s funding of trivia gaming app FleetWit.
In a statement regarding his deal with Vinta, Newton said, “I’m excited to be working with Vinta and putting my first bag out into the world. It’s called the Type-II C1N, and it’s designed for a person like me, with a constant schedule, who doesn’t stop and wants a fashionable, high-quality bag that’s functional for everyday life.”
Newton and his representatives could not be reached in time for the publication of this story.
Vinta’s new limited-edition backpacks created in partnership with Newton are now available on its website for $198, down from the original $254 price tag at launch. Both parties are committed to a long-term partnership with more products in the works, Vinta said.
“While I can’t disclose when these items will come out, I can say the focus is on fashionable high-quality design, while at the same time hitting a price point that is not out of this world,” said Larsen, adding Vinta plans to make future items in the Newton collection accessible to a maximum amount of people.
Thanks to its relationship with Newton, Vinta says it is looking to expand its presence in sports marketing by speaking with more influencers in the industry. Vinta would not disclose what percentage of its advertising budget is dedicated to sports marketing or who those influencers might be.
For now, the online retailer continues to make its products available online and at wholesale partner stores B&H Photo Video and Leica Camera, while also promoting its products on Instagram and Facebook.
Asked if Vinta has spoken internally about investing in digital or television sports advertising, a company spokesperson said, “VINTA’s advertising efforts are currently focused more broadly on customers looking for stylish, high-quality travel products.”