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Upside GPS Vendor Survey

Upside GPS Vendor Survey

Last year we conducted a 2020 Sports Tech survey to measure the impact of COVID-19 on sports tech budgets. We got great responses from 30+ pro teams (NBA, NFL, MLS, Ligue 1, Premiere League, Laliga..). You can see the survey summary here. 

We are now running a new GPS vendors survey (Catapult, STATS, Kinexon, Mclloyd, Wimu, etc..)  that we sent out to ATs, directors of sports science (NBA, MLS, NHL, NFL, European soccer..) that we work with. They are assessing GPS vendors in terms of quality, accuracy, pricing. etc. If you work for a team and use a GPS system, please take a moment to take our survey. It only take 2-3 minutes. All the data will be anonymized. We take privacy very seriously. 

Why should you take this GPS Vendors survey?

– Get unique insights from your peers on GPS vendors in terms of quality, accuracy, pricing.
Better understand the strengths and weaknesses of each GPS vendors.
– Leverage this GPS vendors data as part of your decision process for your next GPS system. 

We will send the summary report to all participants.

Here is the link to our online survey: https://form.jotform.com/211893052273151

Thank you,

Upside Team

Upside Chat: Alberto Maiorana, Sorare (NFT Sports leader)

Upside Chat: Alberto Maiorana, Sorare (NFT Sports leader)

This week we had the honor to interview Alberto Maiorana, the head of licensing at Sorare, a leading NFT sport startup in soccer. Sorare is the world’s leader in the NFT football soccer space with hundreds of thousands of users.

They have more than 140 soccer clubs under contract such as Real Madrid, Liverpool, PSG, Boca Juniors, and River Plate. They also work with five football leagues (Dutch League, the MLS Player Association, Asian leagues) as well as national teams or federations such as France, Germany, and Belgium. Sorare has raised $59.25M to date.

Show Notes: Throughout our conversation, we touched on Sorare, his role in the company, what is unique about Sorare, the benefits for teams and leagues to use his solution and then his plans for the next 12-24 months.

Best Quotes: Here’s some of the key discussion points and best quotes from our conversation with Alberto:

  1. On Sorare: “Sorare is a French company with its main office located in Paris. It was founded in 2018 by two blockchain entrepreneurs, Nicolas Julia and Adrien Montfort. They had a great idea because they wanted to combine fantasy football game and NFTs and they were able to create Sorare in that way, wherein our users can buy, sell, trade NFTs or digital player cards and of course manage their teams within the game (…) We are the leader in the NFTs, football soccer space with hundreds of thousands of users. Today we have more than 140 soccer clubs under contract”.
  2. On Sorare’s customers: “As I mentioned, we have about 140 clubs, which includes all the top soccer clubs in the world, like Real Madrid, Liverpool, PSG, Boca Juniors, River Plate, from different countries and continents. Plus we also deal with five football leagues and their clubs like the Dutch League, the MLS Player Association, and a couple of Asian leagues. We also started to work with national teams of federations. For example, last month in June, with the start of the Euro tournament, we were able to onboard on Sorare, France, Germany, and Belgium. That was the first time for us and so far we have done very well and we are seeing good growth.
  3. On Sorare’s business model: “it’s based on licensing and partnerships and depending on the scope of the cooperation, the licensors get different benefits to be part of Sorare. We essentially pay royalties both on the primary market and on the secondary market. 
  4. On the benefits for clubs and federation to join Sorare: “The benefit for the clubs and federations is to be part of an ecosystem composed of all the top clubs in the world and with a very strong and loyal user community and where they can engage and communicate with fans all over the world, through our platform (..)  So the benefits for clubs and federations is not just in terms of getting a revenue stream because we pay the royalties, but also because we offer a new media platform to engage and to have visibility and exposure towards our audience (..) They can also position themselves as digital leaders ( ..) it gives them the possibility to exploit their digital rights in a different way”.
  5. On Sorare’s audience: “Our audience is international and  diversified. Geographically, about 20% of our users are located in the US, another 20% are in Asia and the remaining 60% are in Europe and the rest of the world”.
  6. On the growth in the NFT Sports market in the past six months: “The development and the growth of the NFT space, and particularly in the sports category has been very, very quick in the last six to 12 months. Until six months ago, probably nobody knew about NFTs and nowadays it’s in the media and mainstream every day. So, the development has been great. We are lucky that Nicolas and Adrien founded Sorare three years ago, so they well anticipated the explosion in the NFT space, based on a very strong and consolidated business model (..) 
  7. On the confusion in the NFT Sports market and the need to educate: “Regarding the NFT market, like any emerging technology, there is competition. I think that nowadays there is maybe a little bit of confusion in the market because clubs or leagues might get a little bit of different information on the market and maybe they also have a lack of knowledge about the technology (..) So I think that we need to work a little bit more on the education aspect in order to educate people and give them more knowledge and awareness about what is the opportunity coming from the technology in the NFT space (..) Clubs and leagues should look a little bit more broader, not just the financial aspect but also what is the opportunity for them in the long term to engage with the fans”.
  8. On Sorare’s focus on soccer: “Sorare has been 100% focused on soccer or football, and that is in our DNA. There is a lot to do because it’s the biggest sport in the world (..) While I don’t exclude that new and selective sports could be of interest to us in the future, we could also explore new opportunities (sports) and evaluate these opportunities if something is really interesting and worth investing and jumping in.
  9. On Sorare’s plans for the next 12-24 months : “Our plans are more or less the following. So first of all, we want to accelerate the hiring process. So, we are hiring at the moment a lot of new positions and roles, especially engineers, developers, product leads and so on. The second goal is to continue to onboard the top clubs and also the top 20 soccer leagues in the world. That’s very important. Beside that, of course, we want to continue to sign deals with national teams. We are also looking to develop a mobile application. 
  10. On Sorare’s geographical focus: “In terms of geography, the US and European markets are two of our biggest focuses in terms of growth and expansion. In the US we already work with the MLS Player Association (..) it’s a very, very, very good cooperation so far. We started to work with them last year, but we also want to focus on some Asian markets, in particular, Japan and South Korea. That will be done a little bit later this year (..) But since the end of last year, beginning of this year, we have also been focused more and more on the South American market. We have about five, six Argentina clubs, including River Plate, Boca Juniors, and Racing. We also have three Mexican clubs and we also signed the first Brazilian club one or two months ago, which is Atlético Mineiro. That was a really successful partnership. We are going to announce more Brazilian clubs in the coming weeks, so stay tuned on that”.
  11. On the biggest challenges to overcome in the NFT Sports market: “I am convinced that the biggest challenge is to educate people and make sure that they understand the differences between different business models and product offerings, for example, the difference between an NFT and a fan token. For many people it’s a little bit more difficult to understand, especially if they are not involved very much in the innovation of technology and they are more on the business and commercial side of the organization”.
  12. On a potential consolidation of the NFT Sports market in the long run: “Currently a lot of people are entering the market, offering different things and maybe over-promising in a way, but as in any category, any sector which involves technology and innovation, there will be a time when there is consolidation and only a few companies will survive or some companies will become very big and relevant in the industry”.
  13. On Sorare’s competitive advantages: “ I think we are the only one, if I’m not mistaken, in the market at least in the NFT sports or football category, to offer the combination between NFT and fantasy football game. The utility for our NFT in the game is very unique in that respect. This is our first advantage. The second one is that we already have a very well oiled working product. So we don’t need to develop anything from scratch. We already have our game, and our platform  is working very well. The third thing is that we have created this ecosystem with all the top clubs and football organizations in the world. We have a quite consolidated and loyal community of users (..) Lastly, we are supported and backed by both big financial institutions and investors like Benchmark, but also by very high profile individual investors like Gerard Pique, Antoine Griezmann, Rio Ferdinand, and Oliver Bierhoff”.

If you want to reach out to Alberto, you can contact him at alberto@sorare.com

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NFT Reached $2.5B in 1H21. SoulCycle’s NY Sales Up +55%. Fitbit ring coming?

NFT Reached $2.5B in 1H21. SoulCycle’s NY Sales Up +55%. Fitbit ring coming?

Dear Colleague,

Last month was a busy month in the world of sports and technology. In the world of soccer, the European soccer championship saw some major upsets, with France the current World champion, being defeated against Switzerland. Italy won its first International trophy in 15 years by beating England in the final. Of note it’s been 55 years since England has not won a major international trophy in soccer. Messi also won its first international trophy after beating Brazil in the Copa America Final. In Tennis, Roger, now 40 years old, reached the quarter finals of Wimbledon while Djokovic shocked the world at the French by winning the title and beating Rafael Nadal along the way, and by winning Wimbledon this weekend. Djokovic has now won 20 grand slams, and is now tied with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal accounting for 20 each as well.

With 12 days to go before the Tokyo Olympics begin, it is set to be another busy month. There is no doubt in our mind that emerging technologies could have a major impact on athletes’ performance, recovery and injury prevention during these upcoming Olympics. It will be interesting to watch!

In the world of AR/VR and digital, Facebook granted patent for ‘artificial reality’ baseball cap. In the world of wearables, Peloton is now working on a heart rate wearable while Facebook is allegedly working on a Facebook smartwatch that could have two cameras when it lands in 2022. In addition Fitbit is rumored to be working on a Fitbit smart ring. It is also worth pointing out that people are now going back to the gym. In fact, SoulCycle CEO recently said that as a result of that SoulCycle New York’s new membership sales increased 55% last May. In the blockchain/NFT world, the NFT market continues to gain strong momentum, with non-fungible tokens collectively making $2.5B in total sales in 1H21, up from $13.7 million in sales over the same period last year.


As a reminder, we launched our new Upside Global platform to bring together our sports, tech & health community of 2,500 executives under a single web platform. Members include executives from the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLS, MLB, Laliga, English Premiere League, Ligue 1, Bundesliga, Series A, Brazilian soccer league, Olympic teams, Pro tennis, as well as representatives of startups, brands, VCs, and athletes.

If you are a head athletic trainer, CTO, CMO of a major sports team or league looking to connect with the most innovative startups or connect with your peers to network, or if you are a startup CEO looking to connect with top teams or investors, you can join our Upside community of executives from the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLS, MLBLaliga, English Premiere League, Olympic teams, top VCs, startups (AR, VR, wearables, sleep tech..) and more!

Your opportunity for growth starts now, create your free executive profile today to join our online community and click on “become a member today” as a first step. It is free to join! It only take one minute to create your profile.

Join the Upside online community

If you face any problems during the registration process, please click on the live support button on our website.


📰 Top Stories We’re Reading This Week

⭐ Upside Analysis: Why there needs to be a focus on higher quality sports tech startups

⭐ Upside Product Reviews of the Month: Fullpower Technologies, Sana Health

⭐ Upside VC Profile of the Month: Courtside Ventures

How NFTs are monetizing sports teams and athletes’ fanbases

Facebook granted patent for ‘artificial reality’ baseball cap.

Peloton is working on a heart rate wearable

Facebook smartwatch could have two cameras when it lands in 2022

Fitbit smart ring is coming?

Startup investment recap (June/July 2021)

Tech Stats of the month

Snapshots of the Week

Let’s jump right into the insights and upside for all of these top stories


⭐ Upside Analysis: Why there needs to be a focus on higher quality sports tech startups

With a sports tech industry valued at $11B, there has been an increasing focus from pro teams and leagues on sports tech startups over the year. But like most industries, sports teams and leagues are being approached by a myriad of sports tech startups. Unfortunately, most of those sports organizations do not have an effective way to truly vet those startups. Many of those sports tech startups, on the other end, often times do not have a solid business model as well as the ability or desire to go beyond the sports sector in order to scale their business. In this analysis we will analyze the state of the sports tech industry, and what needs to happen for sports tech startups to build a scalable business beyond sports.

To Read the full Upside analysis, click here.


 Upside Product Reviews of the Month

Upside video peer reviews of sleep tech company Fullpower Technologies:

This video review is featuring Philippe Khan / CEO, Arthur Kinsolving / CTO of Fullpower Technologies, and top sports performance experts (Derek LawranceDirector of Health and Performance at SJ Earthquakes/MLS, Daniel Hayes, Former Performance Director at LA Dodgers / MiLB; Brian Lee, Director, Sports Medicine at the LA Galaxy (MLS); Skylar Richards, Director of Physiology & Performance at Orlando City FC / MLS). Please note that at the time of this video review, Brian Lee was the Sports Medicine, Program Manager of Sports Medicine at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. He now works for the LA Galaxy. Daniel Hayes also no longer works for the LA Dodgers.

To learn more about Fullpower Technologies click here. To learn more about Sana Health, click here.

You have a sports tech product and want to have reviews from top pro teams? You are a sports execs (athletic trainer, CTO..) and want to see reviews of vetted products from your peers, email us at julien@sportscouncilsv.com or join the Upside pro community here.


 Upside VC Profile of the Month

Read the full profile of Courtside Ventures and Vasu Kulkarni’s interview here.


NFT Sports News

How NFTs are monetising sports teams and athletes’ fanbases | Via : Insider Sport

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have quickly become established as a new means of fan engagement in the sporting space, with various high-profile teams and organisations rolling out their own digital collectibles. As NFTs begin to skyrocket with teams and leagues testing the waters of the innovative collectibles, Insider Sport breaks down the new means of revenue with the help of Amrit Kumar, President and Chief Scientific Officer at Zilliqa.

IS: Do you want to start by providing a rundown of what exactly NFTs are and the value they provide?

AK: NFTs are basically digital assets that sit on a blockchain, and the benefit of creating this blockchain is that for one, you can know who created the NFT and who is the owner of that NFT and at the same time, every time the NFT gets transferred from one person to another one, you can actually have that trail and that trail is established by the blockchain.

⬆️ The Upside: NFT in sports has been getting a lot of attention in the world of pro sports in the coming months with many leagues (NBA, NFL..), athletes (LeBron James, Patrick Mahomes..) launching their own NFT collections. One of the biggest success stories is the NBA’s Top Shot sales, which accounted for US$500 million in transactions in the first three months of the year. This was a third of the total US$1.5 billion in NFT transactions, according to DappRadar, which tracks blockchain markets. In our view, there is almost too much hype about the NFT sports market right now. Today many NFT sports startups have not built solid business models. This will be a key success factor for vendors to build a sustainable business long term.

Picture: NBA Top Shot


AR/VR/Video/Digital Sports News

Facebook granted patent for ‘artificial reality’ baseball cap. | Via : The Register

Facebook has been awarded a US patent titled “Artificial reality hat,” which consists of a display screen that hangs from the brim of a cap, as if it were a havelock worn backward. And the social ad biz applied for this patent fully aware of the failure of Google Glass, augmented reality eyewear that Google announced rather spectacularly in 2012, only to abandon in 2015 after recognizing its costly, conspicuous specs served no unique useful function in the consumer market, looked foolish, and often alienated people thanks to the behavior of glassholes – a term the Chocolate factory hated but eventually adopted. As Facebook sees it – with the benefit of hindsight and making no mention of its $2bn Oculus VR headset acquisition or related investments – eyewear has obvious problems not found in headwear.

“Manufacturers of artificial-reality systems have traditionally focused on various eyewear-based form factors, such as glasses and goggles,” Facebook’s patent explains. “Conventional artificial reality glasses and goggles, however, are sometimes thick, heavy, and unbalanced and/or may generate excessive heat that is uncomfortable against a user’s skin.”

⬆️ The Upside: We think this is an interesting move by Facebook. Facebook is gearing up to introduce consumer graded AR glasses in the next 24 months. For Facebook it will be key to offer AR consumer glasses that are esthetically pleasing, light weight, affordable ($300-$400), have long battery life, scalable optics. It will also be critical for Facebook to have very transparent privacy guidelines in order to avoid another Google glass fiasco. Next year, based on our intel, other key players are set to enter the AR consumer glasses market. This will fuel innovation and benefit consumers long term.

Facebook artificial reality hat illustration

Wearables, Health, Nutrition News

Peloton is working on a heart rate wearable | Via : Wareable

Fitness giant Peloton is preparing a wearable heart rate tracking device to use on its home workout platform. That’s according to a Bloomberg report, which references mentions in the company’s iOS app code. According to the report the company is prepping a heart rate monitoring armband, which would sync to its bikes and treadmills. It would have a small screen to show battery levels, but other than that would keep things fairly simple.

The device would also connect to the company’s iPad and iPhone app, which could mean a future closer to Apple Fitness+. This is all pretty unsurprising after it emerged earlier this year that the company had bought Atlas Wearables, which had produced the Atlas Wristband. That device was an awkward, unwieldy tracker of gym reps – so its technology and manufacturing seems as if it would be the bedrock for a reimagined device.

⬆️ The Upside: We think this would be a good by Peloton. It is worth pointing out that the former CEO of Atlas Wearables is now the head of AI at Peloton. With that in mind, we believe that Peloton will focus on offering a HR wearable device that will provide actionable health insights to Peloton users. This will help Peloton offer a differentiated product. We also expect the Peloton wearable to have a gamification feature, similar to the one offered on the Peloton platform, which will enable users to compete in real time and compare their performance in real time. This will help the daily engagement and stickiness of the upcoming Peloton wearable device.

Facebook smartwatch could have two cameras when it lands in 2022 | Via : Wareable

Facebook loves putting cameras on things – and it seems its smartwatch will be no different. In a report by The Verge, which is based on anonymous conversations with “people familiar with the project”, it’s alleged the forthcoming Facebook smartwatch will have two cameras built into the body.

Apparently the smartwatch will be designed to be removed from a stainless steel wrist strap to take snaps on the go, which can then be uploaded to Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. The front-facing camera will be designed or video calling, while there will be a 1080p camera on the rear for more serious photography. And, according to the report, Facebook is trying to recruit partners to support clipping this camera module to things like backpacks, in what seems a return to the idea of lifelogging that was all the rage in 2014. And it seems the Facebook Watch will hook up with its other wearable tech project – Facebook AR glasses. The Verge reports that Facebook is planning for future iterations of the watch to be a controller for AR experiences. Facebook is planning to release its smartwatch in 2022, and reports have also circulated that it could cost as much as $400.

⬆️ The Upside: This should not come as a surprise to see Facebook working on new hardware product. What Facebook is trying to do here is to create an AR hardware ecosystem (AR glasses, AR hat, AR watch as controller…) that will become very sticky over time. This is also part of Facebook’s big plan to create its own consumer hardware products to better compete against the Apple, Samsung, Amazon of the world. Now will Facebook succeed over time? So far, Facebook’s efforts are paying off as Facebook is currently the market leader in VR with 35% of market share. With 30% of its workforce working on AR/VR products, Facebook is also investing heavily in the space to make it happen. We also expect Facebook to continue to acquire AR/VR startups to strengthen its AR/VR/hardware strategy.

Fitbit smart ring is coming? | Via : Medhealthnews

Fitbit appears to be considering a new form for its health monitoring wearables based on a new patent registration filed last month.

The Google-owned wearable-maker shared insights into a “ring for optically measuring biometric data” such as blood oxygen saturation (SpO2), pulse, blood pressure, glucose levels and more. The filing focused on the SpO2 measurement features of the smart ring because the finger is the most common place to collect this data in clinical settings, according to Sensors. This measurement is taken by shining a light through the finger skin and blood vessels to a photodetector on the other side.

⬆️ The Upside: We think it would be a good move by Fitbit (now part of Google). There has been a lot of attention lately in the smart ring market due to the recent momentum of startups like Oura Health who signed deals with the NBA, NASCAR, the UFC, just to name a few. Fitbit’s other likely competitor there is Motiv. By doing so, it would help Fitbit further diversify its product offering with non invasive products like smart ring. Smart ring are a great new factor which allows pro teams to better monitor their players’ performance and recovery. Smart rings have also gained adoption lately in the context of COVID-19. In fact some athletes that used the Oura Ring were able to detect early signs of COVID-19 symptoms by tracking their sleep quality or temperature via the Oura ring.


Sports Tech & Health Investment Recap — June/July 2021

Here is the recap of the major sports startups’ investment in June/July 2021:

Source: Upside, 2021

Sports tech M&A in June/July 2021:

  • Endeavor China completed its $60 million acquisition of digital sports agency Mailman Group.
  • ABG purchased Sports Illustrated from Meredith for $110 million in 2019 after SI recorded millions in ad revenue losses.

📊 Key Tech Sports Stats of The Month

$211B: Jeff Bezos is now worth a record $211 billion.

$25B: Total costs for the Tokyo Olympics could reach $25 billion. Japan is projecting ticket revenue to reach $830 million.

$5B: Pokemon GO’ made $5 Billion in 5 years. Revenue jumped to $1.2 billion in 2020, a 41% increase from 2019. This year is set to be the best year ever for “Pokemon GO,” with 2021 revenue already up 34% from last year.

$2.5B: The NFT market is as hot as ever, with non-fungible tokens collectively making $2.5 billion in total sales in the first half of 2021. That figure shows explosive growth from the $13.7 million in sales over the same period last year. NFT sales grew to $81.1 million in the latter half of 2020, and then achieved exit velocity with NBA TopShot.

$1.38B: A 2018 study found that spending in England due to the European soccer championship rose by over $1.38 billion during the 2018 World Cup, which was played in Russia. France, which hosted the UEFA Euro 2016, generated $1.44 billion in economic activity from the tournament. UEFA made $1 billion in net revenue.

$250M: According to Forbes, the market value of Martin Braithwaite (Barca soccer player)’s business, also held with his uncle, is estimated at more than $ 250 million (212M euros).

$175M: The Ultimate Fighting Championship inked a 10-year, $175 million deal with Crypto.com that will put the trading platform’s branding on fighters’ apparel, training staff clothing, and in the Octagon fighting ring.

19.4M: Italy and Spain’s semifinal match, which Italy won on penalty kicks, drew an average of 19.4 million viewers in Italy and 11.7 million in Spain.

55%: SoulCycle CEO Webster says over 50% of SoulCycle’s locations are now open after many were forced to close during the pandemic. SoulCycle’s closures led to $350 million in losses last year. In May, the company said New York’s new membership sales had increased 55%.

20: After winning his 20th grand slam this weekend, Djokovic is now tied with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

9: PSG will soon have 9 goalies under contract when Donnarumma officially signs for PSG.

1: Messi won his first ever international trophy this weekend after beating Brazil in the Copa America final.


📸 Snapshots of the Week

NASA adidas shoes. Here are some new adidas shoes designed for NASA. Credit: Danny Dance (www.dannydancedesign.com)

True friendship. Messi & Neymar after the match at the Copa America.

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⭐ Upside Analysis: Why there needs to be a focus on higher quality sports tech startups

⭐ Upside Analysis: Why there needs to be a focus on higher quality sports tech startups

With a sports tech industry valued at $11B, there has been an increasing focus from pro teams and leagues on sports tech startups over the year. But like most industries, sports teams and leagues are being approached by a myriad of sports tech startups. Unfortunately, most of those sports organizations do not have an effective way to truly vet those startups. Many of those sports tech startups, on the other end, often times do not have a solid business model as well as the ability or desire to go beyond the sports sector in order to scale their business. In this analysis we will analyze the state of the sports tech industry, and what needs to happen for sports tech startups to build a scalable business beyond sports.

Picture: Upside Global, 2021

Sports tech sector: A $11B industry

Over the year the global sports technology market has gained good momentum. Currently estimated at $11.7B, this market is expected to reach $12.19B in 2021, according to Grand View Research. This is why sports organizations (pro teams, leagues…) are increasingly focused on adopting sports technologies (AR/VR, GPS, sleep tech, AI, esports..) in order to help them improve the fans experience, grow their top line and reduce injuries. This translates into sports organizations launching sports accelerators, or VC funds. 

4000-5000 sports tech startups, but how many of those have a solid business model?

We are estimating that there are about 4000-5000 sports tech startups today. Now the question is: Of those 4000-5000 startups, how many of those startups have a truly innovative technology, a solid business model and the ability to scale their business? The answer is: Not many. Often times we are seeing small startups at a very early stage who cannot scale. Btw this is not a problem specific to the sports tech industry but a recurring issue for startups in general. This is why seeing some industry organizations claiming that they have a network of 4000-5000 sports tech startups is irrelevant in our opinion. The focus needs to be on high quality sports startups and finding the startups that have a truly unique and scalable technology and business model, not on startups that are too small (2-3 employees) and too early. 

NFT Sports startups, the perfect example of an overhyped sports tech sector

Take the NFT sports startup sector. Over the months there has been a tremendous amount of hype around the NFT Sports sector. Many sports leagues (NBA, NFL, etc..), athletes (Tom Brady..) are now jumping on the bandwagon in order to take advantage of the anticipated growth. Of note, the NFT market for non-fungible token art grew more than 800% in the first 4 months of 2021. It is now worth around $490M, but is only a sliver of the total NFT market, according to some reports.

But in our opinion, how many of the NFT sports startups have a solid business model or even have a business model at all? Not many. This is the perfect example of a sports tech industry that is overhyped. And in our opinion that needs to change in order for the NFT Sports market to reach its full potential. 

Decision makers (Head athletic trainers, CTOs, Director of digital experiences…) are looking for high quality startups

We have been working with athletic trainers, CTOs of sports teams and leagues for many years. These individuals are key decision makers in their organizations when it comes to buying emerging sports technologies. However the reality today is that they have very little time to look at thousands of startups. Often time they rely on their network of peers to assess sports tech startups. But this is a very manual and time consuming process. Those individuals are also often reluctant to try unproven technologies at very early stages. This is why there has to be a better way. This is why at Upside Global we have created a platform to enable them to quickly get access to vetted sports tech startups. 

The emergence of sports tech unicorns: Peloton, Fitbit…Fanatics. 

However on the bright side over the past few years we have seen the emergence of sports tech unicorns and exits. Notable exits include Fitbit (acquired by Google for $2B), Misfit (acquired by Fossil for $260M), Recon Instruments (acquired by Intel for $150M), just to name a few. Notable sports tech unicorns include Fanatics ($12.8B valuation), Discord ($2B valuation, funding approx. $270M, est. $5M in revenue), Calm ($1B valuation, funding  approx. $115M, est. $40M in revenue), Hudl ($460M valuation, funding approx. $110 Million, est. $15M in revenue), and TeamSnap (funding approx. $45 Million, est. $12M in revenue). More recently, startup unicorn Peloton became a public company and is now worth $36B in market cap. So what does that mean for the sports tech industry as a whole? It simply means that these sports tech unicorns have the ability to acquire small sports tech startups in order to enhance their product offering, and acquire engineering resources. The latest example being Peloton’s acquisition of Atlas Wearable. Peloton is now rumored to be working on a HR wearable device based on Atlas Wearables technology which is expected to be introduced next year. We expect more sports tech unicorns to go on a M&A spree which will help consolidate the sports tech industry. As a result of those sports tech unicorn startups going public we also expect executives from those unicorn startups to launch their own sports tech startups. The hope there is that these executives will have a solid knowledge of what it takes to build a sports tech startup at scale and some new sports tech startup unicorns. 

Teams’ 2020 Sports tech plan to invest in new technologies in 2021, specially in sleep tech, GPS, neurotech and mental health technologies.  

Last year we ran a survey with 30+ pro teams (NBA, NFL, MLB, MLS, European soccer..) which clearly demonstrates that sports organizations’ continued appetite for sports technologies as they are looking to invest in emerging technologies like sleep tech, GPS, neurotech and mental health technologies in 2021. As shown in the graph below, 48% of the athletic trainers we surveyed indicated that they plan to invest in sleep trackers in 2021. GPS systems remained a top priority moving forward with 44% of the athletic trainers planning to invest in GPS systems while 44% of them planned to invest in neurotech & mental health devices. This does not come as a surprise as being on quarantine likely affected some players mentally and trainers want to make sure that they can address any mental issues moving forward. 32% of them also planned to invest in HR monitors and video analysis systems. 32% of the athletic trainers also planned to invest in temperature sensing & screening solutions. This makes sense as many sports leagues plan to do temperature screening of players before each games when the competition resumes.

Hydration/electrolyte monitoring solutions also gathered a lot of interest with 24% of the respondents indicating their plan to buy hydration/electrolyte monitoring solutions. Lastly, 16% of athletic trainers also indicated their plan to invest in connected fitness (Peloton, Tonal..) in the future.

Source: Upside 2020 Top Coaches Sports Tech Budget Survey Results, April 2020.

If you want to learn more about this Upside 2020 Sports tech budget survey click here.

Only high quality sports tech startups are set to survive the COVID-19 crisis 

As Vasu Kulkarni recently pointed out to us, Sports is back with a vengeance. We think there is a ton of pent up demand for people to be outdoors and active, and sports will be the beneficiary of this. Certainly a number of companies had a rough year, but if they managed to survive, we think they will be stronger on the other side”. With that in mind we believe that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many sports tech startups to either pivot, build a more solid business model or simply shut down. We see this as a good thing. For example, we have seen many wearable sports startups pivoting and focusing on the healthcare industry in order to take advantage of the growing demand for wearables capable of monitoring patients’ health without contacts. For example, Kinexon ended up offering a contact tracing solution in order to enable organizations to better trace COVID-19 cases. This is just one of the many examples of sports tech startups pivoting but there are many other like this one.At the end of the day, we expect to see a growing number of sports tech startups shutting down due to the lack of funding, solid business model, or inability to pivot or adapt quickly…We think this is a good thing as it will help elevate the quality of sports tech startups in the long run. 

Sports tech startups need to go beyond sports to survive and scale

We are dealing with lots of sports tech startups on a weekly basis and we always tell entrepreneurs “focusing on the sports sector initially makes sense as it helps them create awareness about their product and startup, and refine their product, but it is critical for those startups to go beyond the sports sector in order to truly scale their business.

Put another way, in sports a wearable startup could end up equipping an NFL roster of 90 players with their wearable device, but they could also equip thousands of field workers of a large oil & gas or construction companies as well. The choice is clear on which strategy makes the most sense over time to enable them to scale faster, generate more revenue, help them increase their valuation and bring a solid ROI to investors in the long run.

We are already seeing startups adopt such strategy. One of them is Kenzen a wearable tech startup that initially focused on the sports industry but then pivoted to focus on the industrial (oil & gas, construction..) market today. Of note, we helped Kenzen transition from the sports industry to the industrial space, and land pilots with top industrial customers in the oil & gas, construction and energy sector. Kenzen is now working with some of the largest oil & gas, construction and energy companies in the world today. In the end it was the right strategy for this startup. It helped them raise more money, increase their valuation, and scale their business faster. We expect many other sports tech startups to follow suit and enter new verticals like healthcare, government in order to truly scale their business in the coming years. This is why we at Upside Global are also focusing on the healthcare and government sectors to help those sports startups make inroads into those other verticals to better scale their business over time.

Bottom line: The sports tech industry is more exciting than ever. However in our view there has to be a better focus on high quality startups. At the end of the day, pro teams and leagues care about using truly scalable and vetted technologies. The last thing they want is to work with a sports tech startup that might shut down in 12 months due to the lack of funding. Investors and VCs on the other end, want to invest in sports tech startups that have the ability to scale beyond sports in order to get the best ROI. In the end, if sports tech startups take the proper steps to be focused, and go beyond sports, it will be a win-win for everyone. 

To learn more about Upside Global, and help you find truly vetted sports tech startups, find investors or new customers, please contact at us at julien@sportscouncilsv.com or simply visit our website at Upsideglobal.

 

⭐ Upside VC Spotlight: Courtside Ventures

⭐ Upside VC Spotlight: Courtside Ventures

VC name: Courtside Ventures

Headquartered:  New York, NY

Founded: 2014

Founders: Vasu Kulkarni, Deepen parikh

Website: www.courtsidevc.com/

Sector: Sport Tech (Digital Media, Fitness, Wellness, Gaming + ESports)

VC type: Micro VC

Typical seed investment range: $500k to $2.5M (Seed or Series A stage).

Courtside Ventures invest in early-stage founders that are transforming the intersection of sports, technology, and media. Built on the backs of highly specialized sports and media entrepreneurs and investors, Courtside Ventures look to utilize their industry networks and deep domain knowledge to bring unparalleled value to their companies. They build long-term partnerships with management, by providing ongoing strategic support across all aspects of operations.

Total number of investments: 55

Total number of exits: 4

Courtside Ventures’ latest startup investments:

Source: Crunchbase

This week, we interviewed Vasu Kulkarni, Partner at Courtside Ventures, to discuss his VC’s investment thesis, area of focus, and what he is typically looking for when investing in startups. 

Q1. What are the areas of investments that your VC is focusing on? Why?

At a high level, we focus on areas where the next generation is spending their time and money. Specifically, that’s sports, collectibles, health / wellness, and gaming. We believe that these are areas that generalist VCs have ignored for a long time, while being verticals that our partners have a ton of experience in.

Q2. What are you typically looking for when investing in startups?

Market size is always the biggest concern for us, so we spend more of our time trying to understand the true market size of a concept. Then we focus on founders and why they are the right group to solve a certain problem. After that we look at everything from product quality to design philosophy, distribution plan, etc.

Q3. What do you think is the state of the sports tech industry after a year with COVID-19?

Sports is back with a vengeance. We think there is a ton of pent up demand for people to be outdoors and active, and sports will be the beneficiary of this. Certainly a number of companies had a rough year, but if they managed to survive, we think they will be stronger on the other side.

If you want to learn more about CourtsideVC, feel free to check out our Upside podcast interviews below with Vasu Kulkarni and Kai Bond at Courtside Ventures.

Upside Chat: Vasu Kulkarni, Partner (Courtside Ventures)

Upside Chat: Kai Bond, Partner, Courtside Ventures, on the Gaming/Esport Market

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