Drake and NBA star Dwyane Wade have joined Otter Media in a $4.7 million round of funding for Mars Reel, a digital media startup focused on high school basketball highlights.
Mars Reel, launched in 2010, blends clips of top prep hoopers with hip-hop in its short videos. The company, founded by Brandon and Bradley Deyo, has focused on sharing its content across several social platforms, with 240,000 followers on Instagram and nearly 380,000 on Facebook. Otter Media, now fully owned by AT&T, will serve as an advisor and strategic partner for Mars Reel.
“Sports brings out a passion and engagement in fans that is unmatched, and Mars Reel is super-serving the younger generation of sports enthusiasts by giving them authentic sports content that is organic to their world and designed specifically to their unique viewing habits,” Tony Goncalves, chief executive officer of Otter Media, said in a statement. “Mars Reel is a true innovator and we are excited to invest in young, passionate entrepreneurs like Brandon and Bradley who know and understand their audience.”
Tapping Drake and Wade adds to the company’s list of high-profile investors. LeBron James and business partner Maverick Carter, along with Kevin Durant and Nas, had participated in the company’s first $2.7 million raise. Tuesday’s announcement brings Mars Reel to $7.5 million in total funding at an undisclosed valuation.
Mars Reel has a distribution deal with Uninterrupted, LeBron James’ digital outlet, and expanded its partnership with USA Today earlier this year. Beyond highlights, Mars Reel has added longer features like “Life on Mars,” a documentary series looking at the hardships of prep phenoms.
Otter Media — which is already invested in several outlets like Hello Sunshine, Reese Witherspoon’s media company — expands its sports reach with the deal.
“Having an outstanding track record for finding, developing and investing in successful digital brands, we are very excited to have the support of Otter Media as we expand our business and move into additional sports categories,” Brandon Deyo added in a statement.