Athlete Entrepreneurs Join Other Industry Experts & Investors as Judges at 6th Annual NFLPA Pitch Day Presented by Truist




WHO: Entrepreneurial athletes including NFL legend and NFLPA Chief Brand Ambassador Marshawn Lynch, WNBA star Kelsey Plum and veteran NFL linebacker Jaylon Smith will join 1863 Ventures founder Melissa Bradley and Truist Wealth Management Sports & Entertainment EVP Jeff Dunn on the elite judges panel at the 6th annual NFLPA Pitch Day presented by Truist on Thursday, April 28 in Las Vegas. SportsNet LA and NFL Network talent Kirsten Watson will serve as event moderator.

WHAT: Hosted by the NFL Players Association, Pitch Day provides an opportunity for six diverse-led startups to pitch their groundbreaking concepts and new products to an all-star panel of athletes, industry experts and investors. The companies – Bandwagon, Hydrostasis, Healium, Impact Biosystems, Point and ZoneIn – will compete to gain access to funding, mentorship and potentially the NFLPA’s exclusive group licensing rights.

Each will present to the judges how their business will disrupt industries, connect to sport and lifestyle, and align with the marketing power of athletes by leveraging NFLPA resources. Judges will draw from their own expertise to evaluate the pitches and determine the winner of Pitch Day. The prize package includes $25,000 in player marketing services from the NFLPA, $25,000 in services from licensing, marketing, and multimedia powerhouse OneTeam Partners, business resource contributions from Truist, a purpose-driven financial services company, and strategic consultation from Allied Sports and Allied Global Marketing, which is a full-service integrated agency that works with the world’s largest entertainment, lifestyle and sports brands, including the NFLPA.

Truist, this year’s presenting sponsor, is committed to inspiring and building better lives and communities, aligning with the Pitch Day mission to empower women, people of color and other underrepresented business leaders. PepsiCo joins as a championship plus level sponsor supporting diverse entrepreneurs and innovative new products. The partnerships were facilitated by OneTeam Partners.

WHEN: Thursday, April 28, 11am-1pm PDT

WHERE: Las Vegas

MEDIA: David Cooper/

Judges and Event Moderator biographies:

KIRSTEN WATSON is the reporter and host for the Los Angeles Dodgers broadcast team, where she contributes to SportsNet LA’s game broadcasts and studio programming as well as pre- and postgame coverage on both television and radio. In addition to working with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Watson is the game day reporter and host of the Los Angeles Rams and contributes on the teams’ digital platforms. Additionally, she hosts Monday Night Football on Channel 5 in the UK, an international broadcast in partnership with NFL Network. Watson is a graduate of Columbia University where she received her bachelor’s degree, was a member of the school’s volleyball team, and completed her Master’s degree at Columbia Journalism School.

MELISSA L. BRADLEY is founder of 1863 Ventures, a business development program that accelerates New Majority entrepreneurs from high potential to high growth. She is also co-founder of venture backed Ureeka, a tech platform where small businesses gain unprecedented access to the expertise needed to grow their business. She also serves as General Partner of 1863 Venture Fund, Venture Partner at NextGen Ventures and an advisor to Reign Ventures, New Voices Foundation, as well as the Halcyon Fund. She is also a member of the Milken Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Asset Management Initiative, Goldman Sachs’ One Million Black Women Advisory Council, Launch with GS Advisory Council, Fast Company Executive Board, Square & Forbes Small Business Advisory Team, as well as the Target Accelerators Entrepreneurs Advisory Council. Melissa is a professor at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University where she teaches impact investing, social entrepreneurship, P2P economies, and innovation. In 2021 she was awarded the Peter W. Gonzalez, Jr. Award for Excellence in Adjunct Faculty Teaching. In 2020, Melissa received The Ideas Worth Teaching Award which celebrates exceptional courses that are preparing future business leaders to tackle society’s largest challenges and create a more inclusive, just, and sustainable version of capitalism.

JEFF DUNN graduated from La Salle University in 1987 with a BS in Management, and from Niagara University in 1990 with an MBA in Finance. His banking career started with M&T Bank in 1991, where he worked as a Corporate Banker for six years and was promoted to Vice President of Commercial Banking in less than five. In 1997, he joined Truist Bank as a Vice president and Commercial Banker, with a focus on Pinellas County. In 2000 he moved to Private Client Services as a Relationship Manager for high-net-worth clients in the Tampa market. In 2002 he was named Senior Vice President and Wealth Management Sales Manager for the Tampa Region, which includes Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Citrus, Hernando and Sumter Counties. In 2003, Dunn was named Executive Vice President and Head of Private Wealth and Investment Management for the Tampa Region. In 2009 he was named Division Executive for the West Coast of Florida, where he was responsible for directing the sales and service efforts of 125 employees with assets under management in excess of $6 billion and total revenue of $110MM. In 2013 Dunn was named Head of Sports and Entertainment Group for the bank. In this role, he leads a national team that focuses on corporate and individual clients in the sports, music and film industries. Since joining the Sports and Entertainment Group, revenue has more than doubled by building a national brand. The team works with over 35 professional sports teams and over 1,500 private clients in sports and entertainment. In 2019 Dunn assumed leadership of the Legal Specialty group in addition to the Sports and Entertainment group. The legal team focuses on providing banking solutions to top law firms nationally as well as the partners and associates in these firms.

MARSHAWN LYNCH is one of the most successful NFL Athletes on and off the field. He was born and raised in Oakland, California, graduated from Oakland Tech High School, attended University of Cal Berkeley, before being drafted to the NFL in 2007. Marshawn’s NFL career included stops with the Buffalo Bills, Seattle Seahawks and Oakland Raiders. Marshawn accomplishments on the field include rushing for over 10,000 yards, being named to 5 Pro Bowls, member of the NFL All Decade Team, and winning a Super Bowl. Marshawn’s BeastMode® business, which has grown to encompass apparel, live events, a marketing agency, restaurants and retail stores to name a few. Marshawn is also the founder of the Fam 1st Family Foundation, an Oakland-based philanthropic organization whose focus is the betterment of young black lives within the community.

KELSEY PLUM is one of the WNBA’s brightest and most dynamic stars. A member of the USA 3x3 Basketball team, Kelsey proved to be a major offensive threat, ultimately winning the sports’ first Olympic gold medal in Tokyo. She was drafted first overall in the 2017 WNBA draft by the San Antonio Stars (now the Las Vegas Aces) after one of the best years in NCAA Division 1 Women’s Basketball ever. She finished her college career with 3,527 points, an NCAA record, 1,109 of those coming in her final season, another NCAA record. After her final season, she was named AP Player of the Year, espnW Player of the Year, Pac-12 Player of the Year, USBWA Player of the Year, Naismith College Player of the Year, and was awarded the Honda Sports Award, John R. Wooden Award, Nancy Lieberman Award, Dawn Staley Award and the Wade Trophy. A prolific scorer, Kelsey has seen continued success in the WNBA, earning the honor of All-Rookie Team in 2017 and Sixth Woman of the Year in 2021. During the last few WNBA off-seasons, Kelsey has taken her talents overseas to Fenerbahçe of the Turkish Women’s Basketball League and helped them win back-to-back titles in 2017-18 and 2018-19 where she was named Finals MVP after their first championship. For the 2022-23 season, she played with Turkish team, Galatasaray S.K., leading them to a bronze place finish in this year’s EuroCup.

JAYLON SMITH is a professional football player from Fort Wayne, Indiana. Smith attended Bishop Luers High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where he was a letterman in football, basketball, and track. He ended his senior year as the top high school American football player in the state of Indiana, where he was named the Mr. Football award winner and the best high school linebacker in the country, winning the Butkus Award. He played college football for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in South Bend, Indiana and was drafted 34th overall by the Dallas Cowboys in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft. He was named the Cowboys’ nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award. He was nominated for his outstanding community service activities off the field, as well as his excellence on the field. He was picked up by the Green Bay Packers for 2 weeks and finished the season strong with the New York Giants. Smith is currently a free agent. He is locked in and ready for the upcoming season. Off the field Smith works hard to make an impact on and off the field, is passionate about giving back to the community, and educating himself about financial literacy.

He does just that through his initiative he launched called the Jaylon Smith Minority Entrepreneurship Institute (MEI), co-founded CEV | Clear Eye View, invests in six real estate development projects and three private equity deals. The MEI initiative is to close the economic and educational gap in minority communities across the Midwest and southeast through entrepreneurship. Two events have taken place in July of 2019 in his hometown of Fort Wayne, IN and July of 2020 in Dallas, Texas; applicants were able to submit their business plan to be selected to present at the showcase and had the chance to receive mentorship, capital, and support to get their entrepreneurial business off the ground. Each year the MEI initiative grows, and the third showcase will be held this July in Tampa, Florida. His signature phrase, “Clear Eye View” was made into an eyewear company and collection in 2018 that is about the focused vision of accomplishing anything life has for you. Wearing the CEV collection is not a fashion statement, but a visible belief in the world you believe in, where anything is possible.