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Tech startups in sports

Sports have always been about, well, just that, sports. However, in recent times, scratching for innovation and to claw the booming economy (and business culture), we have seen an invasive rise of many tech startups in India and the world that serve the sports industry.

Avinash Kumar

@ Engineer | Posted 01 Jun, 2018 | Sports

Posted By: Avinash Kumar (Posted 01 Jun, 2018)

Tech startups that focus on the sports industry


Sports have always been about, well, just that, sports. However, in recent times, scratching for innovation and to claw the booming economy (and business culture), we have seen an invasive rise of many tech startups in India and the world that serve the sports industry. This is as surprising as it gets because for long, in lack of room to blend technology, sports have been among the last avenues for the next-gen entrepreneurs. What innovation could we possibly come up with in this sector?

The Problems in the sports industry


Talking from the individual outlook of players and viewers, even when hidden from the purview of our conscious and scrutiny, problems always existed in both these ends of the market. For instance, in any sport, for the teams and officials, on-spot decision-making has always been challenging; controversial even. This has led to the emergence of many cutting-edge gadgets that make reviewing for decision only a matter of few seconds.


In fierce games like rugby, football, and MMA, participants’ safety of athletes is another major concern for everyone. Only a few years back, in what is possibly a safe sport comparably, Phillip Hughes lost his life in the live cricket match, on the field, after being hit by the ball. We now have organizers and leading bodies in respective sports take extreme precautions and employ advanced tools and treatment facilities to safeguard players’ health and life.


The finance part of sports is another walk that, posing several challenges, attracted many business minds. How does one start his/her own sports club? How do players make more money? How do teams find better sponsors? Some of today’s tech startups, not necessarily entirely but moderately, aim to solve such problems. We now have a range of platforms and tech-driven arrangements that facilitate respective solutions.


The consumer-end challenges


All the above problems are majorly game-oriented; i.e. they focus on only one side of the market. Aside, there are plentiful of hiccups even in the consumer market of the sports industry. The first one, not wholly a challenge but passion for progress, is improving the experience of viewers sitting at home, watching the match on TV. Not to sound orthodox but who would have thought we could experience (and feel) live sports matches happening across the world on our smartphone through immersive Virtual Reality (VR) headsets.


The second problem that few of the tech startups are effectively slaying is making the sports more integrated so as to get consumers spend more that brings higher revenue for the teams, players, and organizers. Video games and fan-designed t-shirts are the finest examples here.


Many tech startups in the sports industry—few making a real difference


One of the first names that come to mind when talking about tech startups in the sports industry is that of Blinkfire Analytics. The company, aiming to bring big revenue to brands, integrates Artificial Intelligence (AI) and computer vision in its own program that measures the media value and impact of the brand in question. It gathers around seamless data from different ends, makes their sense, and then provide users rich content. Once the team, player or organizers better understand their media value, they can effectively change their strategies to unlock more revenue opportunities.


OpenSponsorship is another impactful startup in this industry that has caught many people’s attention. It’s a web-based platform that matchmakes brands, athletes, teams, agents with the right sponsors after analyzing the pool of data. For example, a promoter of a boxer can use this platform to identify the real market value of that boxer based on diverse factors, including his social media following and engagement. The promoter can then properly make booking decisions so as to maximize the revenue.


There are plenty of other tech startups in this industry—some notable, others undermined; some working to solve core issues on different ends of the market, others, money-oriented, simply being in existence for the sake of it.  


So, while a few years back many would have questioned the need and relevance of tech startups in the sports industry, today, in the know of the problems, such new and innovative companies are need of the hour.