Cryotherapy has entered Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith’s life in a big way.
Smith was introduced to the low-temperature recovery technology during his breakout 2018 campaign, and he credits his on-the-field success in part to the process. Now, the third-year pro is going all in and investing in Houston-based iCRYO in a move that Smith said aligns with his investing philosophy: the three C’s.
For Smith to invest in any partnership, he needs a potential deal to have the right character, chemistry and competence.
“If you align on those three, and it fits with everything I’m trying to do from a brand and capital standpoint long term, I’m in,” Smith said. “That’s what they possessed.”
Along with becoming an equity partner, Smith hopes he can help be a major part of the branding for iCRYO moving forward.
“Just to get the word out about cryo,” he said. “It’s something that’s been around, but not everyone has experienced it. I can be a voice, a face, for cryo and iCRYO. I just love what it does from a healing standpoint relieving muscle pain, sprains, swelling.
“Cold therapy is wonderful, and I believe everyone should be doing it, not just athletes. It’s an energizer in overall life.”
Smith discovered the practice last year at the Cowboys’ practice facility. Now that he’s a regular user, he wishes he would have discovered it earlier. During his junior season at Notre Dame, Smith suffered a brutal knee injury in the Fiesta Bowl that required an intensive rehabilitation regime. He plummeted from a likely top-five draft pick in the 2016 NFL Draft all the way down to 34th, ultimately missing his entire season.
Smith debuted in 2017 and partly credits his cryotherapy discovery for his standout second season, during which he recorded 121 tackles and was named 2018 Pro Football Focus’ Breakout Player of the Year. With the physical demands of football, Smith said the cryotherapy helps him recover much faster than traditional ice baths.
“The sport I play, in the NFL, it’s a very physical and violent game,” Smith said. “Availability is everything. It’s all about how fast you can recover.”
Smith’s investment is more than just an endorsement deal or some money; he’s putting his money where his mouth is, said Kyle Jones, iCRYO COO and co-founder. Jones opened the first company’s retail location five years ago and has since sold “a couple dozen” franchise locations, grabbing a significant market share in a relatively new industry that could reach $5 billion by 2024.
The two hit it off during the 2018 holiday season at a Boys and Girls Club event, and as they teamed up it became clear to Jones that, given Smith’s injury history, this investment was personal.
“He’s shown nothing but serious involvement,” Jones said. “He wants to know the science, get involved with the business. He’s very hands on.”
Beyond his position as an equity partner focused on providing brand awareness support, Jones expects Smith to own several franchises in the near future.
Smith has always wanted to be an entrepreneur, and this entry into the cryotherapy space is not his first business endeavor. He also started an eyewear line called CEV Eyewear, a venture he enjoys both for his love for eyewear as well as the brand’s name, Clear Eye View, signifying the sort of focused approach he believes everyone should have for life. Beyond his own businesses, Smith said he’s always looking to allocate a portion of his money into real estate, private equity and venture capital investments when possible.
As an NFL player, Smith understands he has access to opportunities many other aspiring entrepreneurs don’t have. He’s hoping to capitalize on them as much as he can before those advantages go away while learning as much about business as he can when he’s not on the field.
“I want to maximize the platform of being a professional athlete,” he said. “You’re granted with stature and stardom, and you can leverage the impact and influence for access and connections.”
Smith is only two years removed from the injury that many expected to end his career and remains cognizant of how quickly football can be taken from him. Off the field, like many other modern professional athletes, Smith is already looking beyond the horizon, looking to set up his post-playing days.
“Whenever I’m not playing, I have a love and desire for entrepreneurship,” he said. “I’ll continue to dive into that and educated myself and my peers, providing access to people I love and people who deserve opportunities.”