The final section of the North American SportsTech Report, produced by SportsTechX, comprehensively highlights the continent’s SportsTech ecosystem, covering investors, acceleration / incubation programs and innovation initiatives. In today’s post we will bring an example of each area, highlighting its main points. To check out other insights about the North American market, you can download the full report here.
Firstly, let’s talk about Courtside Ventures, an investment fund located in New York. The investments are focused on sports, digital media, fitness and well-being areas, in addition to gaming and esports. As for the level of investments, the fund operates mainly from Seed Investments, which seeks to accelerate companies and startups at initial levels.
Vasu Kulkarni, one of the investors behind Courtside VC, gave an interview in which he talks about this universe of investments in sports, alongside the technology area. According to Vasu, there is great difficulty for Venture Capital funds to invest in sports-related initiatives because this market will not grow and scale enough for the return to be positive. Therefore, the recommendation is that companies seek to create technology initiatives that are linked to sport, but that can also be applied in other verticals.
The investor also deeper analyzed the technology area related to sports. According to him, there are three sectors from which the main opportunities can arise. Firstly, we have wearables and other tools that can extract data from athletes’ activities, which, with the help of platforms to analyze this data in the best possible way, can bring important information to teams or athletes. Secondly, we have software’s that support institutions to improve their performance in social media and fan engagement, analyzing their behavioral data.
Still in the investment sector, we have Ludis Capital based in the city of Los Angeles, California. The initiative consists of a group of investors, founders and operators that aims to take their experience with sports, entertainment and technology to different companies around the world. Like the previous example, Ludis Capital is also focused on early-stage companies.
Moving on to the acceleration and incubation area, the Future of Sport Lab (FSL), located in Toronto, appears as a highlight. The initiative is formed by a collaborative lab, in addition to an incubator, seeking to achieve innovations and sports research. The lab is managed by Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, a company with a stake in Toronto Raptors (NBA), Toronto FC (MLS), Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL) in addition to smaller franchises, and Ryerson University, a Toronto educational institution. Initiatives like these are great for startups since it makes it easier for initiatives created and developed to be tested and improved on the spot.
Within the incubation initiative, FSL highlights six areas: athlete performance, business management and new media engagement, fan experience, sports analysis and data capture, sports and social innovation, and local technology. Entrepreneurs who are connected to the program will receive guidance, academic support and opportunities to test their pilot projects. The lab also offers a wide network of contacts available for mentoring sections, from clients who can clarify the entrepreneurs’ pains to investors who can assist in the search for a more attractive product for the market.
In conclusion we have the innovation initiatives. Founded in New York in 2011, VC Sports seeks to create a community of investors, executives and entrepreneurs passionate about technology and sports, mainly through events in different formats. In recent years, the group has expanded its operations, opening new headquarters in San Francisco, Boston and London, UK’s capital.
It is clear that the North American scenario, with the dominance of the United States, is far ahead of the Brazilian market. We can see this as a way to learn best practices and look for the shortest ways to develop the investment sector and initiatives around SportsTech here. Sportheca is always trying to bring new initiatives, seeking to help entrepreneurs who are part of our ecosystem so that we can transform the sports industry based on technology and innovation.