Connections important in the success of B² Enterprises

Along with a diploma, memories and enough Illini gear to last a lifetime, students will also graduate with the single greatest tool to getting a job or starting a business: connections. For Brian Bradtke, University alumnus and founder of B² Enterprises, the connections he made here on campus are what have helped him start his successful sports marketing agency.

Started in January of 2011, B² Enterprises is what Bradtke refers to as a “full-service concierge,” where Bradtke and his other two employees handle a variety of responsibilities including marketing, endorsements, PR, appearances and signings, and charity work foundations for their clients, many of whom are NFL players.

“Anything and everything that a client might need,” Bradtke said.

Bradtke’s interest in sports marketing came after majoring in recreation, sport and tourism here at the University and helping with the football team, which opened the door to making connections to some of the former Illini football players he has today as clients.

“I technically started the business in 2011, but the foundations for this business started with making connections here at the University while working for the football team,” he said. “I became good friends with people on the team.”

He added that connections are the key to starting a business and being an entrepreneur.

“I always tell people ‘your network is your net worth,’” he said. “And college is a great time to start that.”

These connections helped land Bradtke one of his most recent clients, former Illini football player Tavon Wilson, who currently plays for the New England Patriots. Bradtke helped Wilson manage the hectic life of playing professional football after graduating last year.

“He explained to me (how) things go as far as the NFL and how you want to protect your image,” Wilson said. “He’s always making sure I am doing everything I can to be the best football player that I can be.”

For Wilson, working with Bradtke is much more than just business.

“It’s more than just a business relationship between me and Brian,” he said. “I consider him one of my closest friends. He’s always been there for me and will do anything for me.”

This feeling of friendship and individual attention is what Bradtke believes sets B² Enterprises apart from other sports marketing agencies. With 10 NFL clients, Bradtke said he can give them more personal concentration.

“I am always making sure their families are comfortable,” he said. “I try to make sure everything else is taken care of so they can play their best on the field.”

Bradtke said that in this referral-based business the personal attention and extra time pays off in the sports marketing world.

Working alongside Bradtke is Griffin Paul, Bradtke’s friend from high school. Paul joined the B² Enterprises team in Jan. 2011 and enjoys building clients’ images and connecting them to charities, brands and businesses.

“You get to meet a bunch of different people,” Paul said of the business. “It’s very challenging but very rewarding. We do a lot of work for charity so you get to help others while also helping build your client.”

At the end of the day, the most important part of sports marketing is making sure the client is happy. It’s that moment that Bradtke finds to be the most worthwhile.

“I really find it rewarding when I get to see my client on a TV commercial that I set up, or they text you saying, ‘I can’t believe you did this for me,’” he said.

Kelly can be reached at [email protected]