Savvy Sports Teams Turn to Startups for Game-Enhancing Technologies

On , .

Technology can build a smarter golf club. It can engineer a smarter shoe. It can even design more streamlined helmets.

There are countless ways technology is enhancing sports, and some of the advancements are even more impactful than the latest and greatest gear. Many of the most exciting innovations are actually coming from collaborations between sports teams and tech startups, and even the players are getting in on this trend. It seems everywhere you look, another professional athlete is involved in a new technology venture, and it’s hardly surprising. These pros see how technology has improved their own performance, and how it’s revolutionizing the way fans participate in the games.

New Funding Spurs Sports/Tech Innovation

It’s not just big name athletes who are getting in on the trend, venture capitalists are seeing potential, as well.

According to TechCrunch, “Venture funding for sports tech startups hit an all-time high of $927 million in 2014, growing nearly 30% year over year since 2012. In the first few weeks of April alone, investors committed $151 million in venture funding for sports tech companies — that’s over half the quarterly funding high of $299 million, recorded in Q3 of last year.”

The Los Angeles Dodgers are perhaps the most visible face of this growing trend, as the team launched an accelerator program earlier this year. The LA Dodgers Accelerator is a partnership between the team and a New York-based agency to provide select sports related startups with funds, mentoring, and even co-working space in order to help get their ideas to market. The program was launched earlier this year, and the startups selected by the accelerator are hard at work now preparing for a November 10 “demo day.”

The startups selected by the Dodgers represent a range of ideas. ProDay is a mobile app that allows anyone to work out with his or her favorite professional athletes. Kinduct is a human performance software line that includes health and fitness applications. Doorstat focuses on customer demographics and foot traffic. And LeagueApps is all about managing organized sports in your community.

The Tech Revolution in Sports

Many of these startups take advantage of the changing ways that players, organizers, and fans all interact with sporting events in today’s always-connected environment. Consider the changes in how teams operate today versus in pre-Internet days. There’s been a fundamental shift, with teams now using online avenues to interact with fans, and fans themselves being able to connect with one another online. Analysis, news, commentary—all of this thrives online—in fact, TechCrunch also reported that 60 percent of all traffic on Twitter is related to sports.

Today, the digital impact of sports is going beyond home computers as teams embrace the mobile revolution. Apps, social media, and mobile everything—this is the new frontier of sports technology. Much of it is entertainment related, a way to drive a deeper fan engagement level into the game and teams, but there are many more applications beyond that, including those that help all level of sports organizers, not just professionals, play harder and coach smarter.

All of this is a sign of the increasing importance of technology in sports. While we’ve grown more accustomed to high-tech performance gear, the current boom is indicative of the much wider applications today’s technology can have on the world of sports.

Photo Credit: yinzcam via Compfight cc