leAD Selection Days 2019: SportsTech Emerging Opportunities in Amateur Sports
I just landed back in London after attending the leAD Accelerator’s selection days for our class of 2019. 350 applicants have been whittled down to 25 and in a short time we will announce the final 7 to 10 applicants making up the class of 2019. I joined leAD full time in February, so for me this was the first time seeing and working with companies a a pre-seed stage.
Currently I evaluate and work with sportstech businesses ranging from pre-seed to series A so when I see overlap in the problems or markets been tackled by the pre-seed companies that isn’t been taken on by the later stage I know theres clear opportunity emerging.
In Amateur Sports it becomes clear there is a want and a need for a more complete product offering from Amateur Sports Providers. Athletes want to play when and where they want. They want the nicest venues at a time and price that fits their lifestyle. They want to train like the pros, they want to be the pros. They want a healthy competitive environment because sports is their true passion in life.
Unfortunately we live in a society where most are not able to work in a job that matches with their passion so they have to settle for other outlets; sports, hobbies and entertainment. But this creates an opportunity to add real value to this emerging market. Not only are we going to see a range of marketplaces and applications connecting amateur athletes with the tools they need to meet and compete but also a whole host of new sporting types and competitions.
I’m surprised this hadn’t clicked for me before because ultimately the need for amateur competition is what holds my conviction in eSports together. But it is clear the same opportunities are here in the real world.
One thing I should quickly mention is I see a clear distinction between amateur sports and amateur fitness. I definite the amateur fitness market sports and fitness related content and applications aimed at making the person healthier or fitter, whereas I see the amateur sports market as content and applications aimed at making the person enjoy the game or competition more.
Amateur Athletes even want to be sponsored like the pros… And soon they will be.
One of my top 3 picks from our Selection Day is a company called Pitz. Pitz collects data from players real-life activity to enhance their game experience. Based on historic performance and machine learning algorithms, Pitz gives them access to sponsorships and prizes, simulating the professional player/team life. Pitz is looking to become the Virtual Agent for amateur teams and players to make them feel like professional by giving the chance to be rewarded with sponsorships.
Pitz is the product of Fernando Mendivil and my pick in Pitz is largely based on the belief Fernando can and will do what he says. I think the coolest part of my job right now is meeting some truly remarkable and inspiring entrepreneurs. Fernando is one of them.
Pitz’s game changing business model is Data Driven Sponsorships. Pitz already has 50,000 players using their platform to create and manage their team, matches and tournaments as well as capture results and let players rate and get rated by their opponents and teammates. It’s easiest to visualise what this gives to Pitz that is so valuable for brands.
Data, Data, Data
As explained in the illustration above Pitz helps brands achieve the best ROI because it can push the sponsorship directly to the most likely players who will take action and become their ambassadors or micro-influencers. The user then gets the option to accept or decline the sponsorship often in exchange for completing a task such as a post on social media or similar.
The backend PITZ AI that facilitates these transactions is the secret sauce that holds real value giving brands a better and more efficient way to connect with their target audience. But coming back to the Pitz consumer offering it is abundantly clear Pitz can only happily take and use their players data because they are adding so much value already to the consumer through the resources and tools for the athlete. It’s a value for value exchange that Pitz has recognised allows their users to be so happy to share their data.
Pitz is currently raising funds so if you would like to get in touch just reach out to me and I am more than happy to make an introduction.
In addition to Pitz we saw 3 other candidates focusing on the Amateur Sports Market:
Bout: Bout is an all in one app for street sports that lets users organise leagues, find and connect with like-minded players, and discover venues all around the world.
Esportes: Esportes is a next generation sports channel focused on amateur sports. They offer two products, a SaaS platform that manages amateur football leagues and a system that records and extracts match starts automatically through a single 180 degree installed camera.
LeagiON: LeagiON is building the first-ever platform to offer a Decentralised Autonomous League that will enable sports enthusiasts of various skill levels to earn money while playing the sports they love.
To Summarise, I see the amateur sports market having the same potential for innovation we have seen already capitalised on in the amateur fitness market. Thanks so much for reading and if you are a startup operating in the Amateur Sports space get in touch, Id love to chat.