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What is the reason for the development of the sports sector and what startups are launched here?
We talk to startups and investors, you get the value.
For many years, the sport has been one of the most demanded business fields. Just look how many types of sports there are in the world! In addition, sports are presented in physical, mental and electronic formats. Each sport has many branches, where both big companies and startups thrive.
Let’s start with the fact that people like to watch different tournaments, championships, competitions which are held offline and transmitted by different channels, streaming services and social networks. Each sport, team and member have many sponsors, who have one thing in common — monetization, which means income, profit and money.
Also, many people like to play sports. Therefore, sports activities entail the purchase of individual clothing and footwear, equipment, inventory and special food, and all these are also part of the business in sports. Because people not only enjoy exercising but also monitor their health, body and shape: just look at the number of gyms and fitness centres.
In addition, the increase of time spent at the computer affected the physical activity of people, and the pandemic only worsened the situation. Nowadays, IT companies focus on sports, providing their employees with paid subscriptions to gyms. And even those people who don’t do a lot of physical training and who are indifferent to a healthy lifestyle, monitor their physical activity using a simple pedometer installed on a mobile device.
Bookmakers and games on consoles, computers, tablets and smartphones are also a part of the sports business industry. And if everything in the gaming industry started from the amateur level and simple entertainment, now it has grown to separate championships, and in some countries, esports is recognized as an official sport.
It is important to mention that today’s big sports businesses also started at the bottom of the ladder. Time has passed, but large companies continue to run forward, set new records, be on the same wavelength with the needs of people and stay in trend. For example, there is the Nike Run Club community and mobile app, as well as its direct competitor Runtastic from Adidas. The popularity of such programs lies in the fact that they motivate not to lose but gain momentum, make it possible to choose training and control training sessions, save the results, provide an opportunity to find out useful information, share achievements with others and discuss concerning issues.
Sports startups have successfully joined the marathon of such industry giants as Nike and Adidas, too. Enthusiasts weren’t afraid and simply created separate highly specialized apps, communities,. For example, Strava is an app for runners and cyclists, as well as, WorkoutMe and Soberman, which we have already described earlier in our articles. These support the trend of small businesses in sports, which has no boundaries.
The sports business continues to progress and develop in a technological direction. Among innovative discoveries, startups are taking the lead: the introduction of IoT solutions, the use of machine vision and artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality are expanding horizons for both business and the end customer.
Many competitions in the world are dedicated to startups in the sports and technology fields. Startups are evaluated according to such criteria as monetization, community management, project development. But it’s not only about competitions: promising projects are often encouraged and receive mentoring assistance for further development. It is important to note that today, the Russian sports start-up market is actively developing and also showing good results.
In Russia, the following startups were successfully presented and awarded at several competitions:
The Russian Tennis Federation awarded Track.tennis for the creation of a special tracking system for tournament video recordings and data tracking.
The Skolkovo Foundation awarded Heart.Zone for its “Technology for continuous monitoring of the cardiovascular system through various sports equipment”.
Parimatch Bookmaker awarded idChess for creating the platform for chess data recognition and analysis.
The Innovation Center of the Russian Olympic Committee and the Russian Football Union awarded InMotion for the first Russian created tracking system (movement and biometrics), which is designed for athletes in team sports.
The Sellout Sport System sports marketing laboratory has awarded e-Champs for its CRM system that manages events and also stores the results of athletes.
InStat awarded YoPlayDo for its football platform that keeps track of player data and statistics.
Fitness сorporation Worldclass has awarded the S10.run project for their platform for training distance running.
Nielsen awarded SportRecs for their platform for sports copyright holders and publishers, which aims to help gather an audience and quickly receive highlights and videos in one place.
The PwC International Network has honoured Learn2Play for the creation of an EdTech international esports company that provides players with a platform to improve their skills.
In 2020, the international arena has highlighted the following startups:
4D Sight is an American startup that recently worked only in digital advertising and esports. But the pandemic and empty stands in offline soccer stadiums have expanded the horizons of their services. With the help of artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, the startup has found a solution for football projects to interact with fans.
BBox Sports is a startup from the Netherlands that specializes in both gift boxes and augmented reality. Thanks to their application, you can take a photo with a virtual player from your favourite team and play your favourite game with him.
Beyond Sports BV is another startup from the Netherlands that offers a person the possibility to be on the football field inside a match. With the help of artificial intelligence and movement data, you can look at the game through the eyes of a football player and even step into the game: for example, hit the ball or give a pass.
IDOVEN is a medical startup from Spain. The project was created to provide diagnostics, identify heart problems at early stages, and also provide an opportunity to "keen sense of the pulse" in the literal and figurative meaning during the athletes’ training sessions.
Immersiv.io is a French startup that makes it possible to feel like a football player by using virtual and augmented reality technology; for example, you can go to a goalkeeper training or feel like a football star in the crowded stands of the stadium. The project reproduces statistics in real-time and creates a model of a football field right on the coffee table.
iSPORTiSTiCS is a Brazilian startup that has created a platform with widgets that you can use to view statistics and analyze matches, find out the player's data during the game and see the flight of the ball in real-time.
Pico-Get Personal is an Israeli startup that has created a project that makes it possible to identify fans, as well as trace the path of a fan: from meeting a club to becoming a fan. Moreover, the project contains a separate personalized platform for internal communication between fans.
Sport Buff Is a British startup that has changed the way they watch matches. For example, during the broadcast of a match on a device, you can choose the best player, and at the same time don’t get distracted from watching the game and be aware of the score; this way the fans are more involved in the game.
TorqLabs is an American startup that has created compression pants with four sensors on the joints that collect information about the athlete's movements and transmit it to a smartphone via Bluetooth. The application does all the work in the AWS cloud. The project helps athletes to move correctly and it is aimed at preventing knee injuries during movements, games, training sessions.
Révèle is a startup that created gender-oriented equipment for women who started doing contact or “men” sports: MMA, rugby and hockey. The special sportswear is made from a “second skin” material and contains a lightweight and super flexible lining that absorbs shocks and softens their impact on the female body. The Revele startup project won the 2018 ISPO Brandnew Award.
ArrowPass is a startup that has created a platform based on NFC technology that ensures the reduction of queues at stadiums and the introduction of electronic tickets, the sale of drinks and food, as well as merchandise, increases the comfort and loyalty of fans. Moreover, the Internet platform contains media content and feedback channels with fans of the sports club.
Krank Club is a Parisian startup that took the basic idea of Tinder and Badoo and created an application where you can choose a preferable amateur sports team and join them and then take part in friendly games or even tournaments. Also, the Krank Club app provides an opportunity to assemble your team. The startup raised investments of €750,000.
Phenom is a startup that has created a whole community where young athletes share their achievements, secrets, stories, their progress, and discuss equipment. Big brands have noticed the startup’s platform and made it a tool for promoting their products.
As innovative technologies are actively developing, being introduced and applied in sports, the same way sports are becoming more and more popular. Until IT will be developing and people will be doing sports, sports startups will be trendy. Obtaining information, analytics, analysis, conclusions, the process of preparation and training, building a strategy and tactics are reaching new heights in sports. Attracting and retaining, or even better, turning fans and spectators, professional gamers and sports enthusiasts into a loyal fanbase is a challenge for every startup.