After pursuing a professional basketball career, Luke Bonner says he’s ready to help other athletes. Bonner, who played professionally in Europe as well as for the Austin Toros in the NBA Development League, launched and is now CEO of PWRFWD (pwrfwd.co), an online marketplace for athletes and their fans.
Having started the business in March, Bonner’s goal is to help athletes develop, market and sell merchandise online. But, despite launching during a pandemic that shut down all major league sports, Bonner and his team are undaunted. PWRFWD even closed an angel round of funding, though he says the amount is confidential. And, with a team working remotely across the country, the business will soon be moving into its seed round of funding.
Based in Concord, PWRFWD helps its clients design apparel and other products and secures New England-based manufacturing and fulfillment partners. The company also develops a customized online storefront, allowing them to sell directly to their fans. Bonner says the sites are also set up to allow athletes to highlight causes they find important.
“There are only so many endorsement deals on the table. It doesn’t mean you don’t have influence as an athlete,” Bonner says. “This is an empowering way for them to build their brands and an avenue to take ownership of their personal brands.”
When Bonner retired as a professional athlete, he initially worked for GYK Antler in Manchester for six years. He then started his own boutique firm, Power Forward Sports Group, helping small and mid-size companies connect with sports figures to promote their products.
PWRFWD launched with sites for Tacko Fall of the Boston Celtics, Breanna Stewart of the Seattle Storm and Mo Bamba of the Orlando Magic.
Bonner says while the firm initially focused on basketball, it will expand to other sports. “I see this being used by athletes across sports leagues. I see it as a powerful and valuable tool for college athletes,” he says.