The sports industry has entered a phase of exhilarating change. Technology has sparked a maelstrom of new ideas, from esports and virtual advertising to AI-enabled fitness apps and cutting-edge fan engagement.
This boom is being fuelled by startups, piloted by visionary entrepreneurs able to translate innovation into ideas. About 900 startups come to life each year, attracting more than 1,000 active investors.
The big questions for many startups are how to sustain their existence and how to make their ideas market-ready - data reminds us that about 70% of tech startups fail. While, for existing players, the rise of startups eager to take market share can feel like yet another emerging risk.
In reality, both sides should see this as a win-win situation. Larger companies must diversify and innovate to stay relevant. And startups need finance, connections and security to grow.
The benefits of working with established companies in the sports market speak for themselves. Startups gain access to an existing ecosystem of in-house experience for product development, a deep customer and supplier network, and - crucially - funding.
If the corporate has an innovation wing or in-house accelerator, such as Infront Lab, there is an added incentive for partnership. It means there is a structure and strategy in place within the corporate to actively support startups in a tailored way.
Startup insights from Infront Lab Day of Innovation
Infront continues technology drive with Videocites investment
Take Videocites, for example. This startup uses advanced fingerprinting techniques and video search software to keep track of content online. It’s a huge breakthrough in the fight against piracy and a genuine ‘must-have’ for rights holders in a sports world struggling to control the spread of pirate versions of events on social media.
Infront invested in Videocites to help drive their product forward, providing a wealth of expertise in anti-piracy, media rights and production, as well as a vast network and knowledge of rights holders and broadcasters for testing and future partnerships.
The recently launched Infront Lab offers several support routes for startups, ranging from arms-length partnerships, investments and joint solutions to full acquisition as an Infront brand. When sports industry corporates and startups get their interactions right, the results can be game changing.