Overview of the Chinese #SportsTech landscape

A look into a unique market

One of the first things we noticed during our research is the scale at which things are done in China. Not just has there been vast amounts of money invested in SportsTech, with a number of startups already in their later stages of funding, it also seems that ideas are implemented larger and faster than in most European and other Asian markets. So it’s not a surprise that China is home to the highest funded company in SportsTech: LeSports, an online streaming website which was only founded in 2014, received $1.4B in funding and is one of the few unicorns in the space. China surely is a great ground for SportsTech, also given the size of the overall Sports Market and it’s bullish nature.

The other thing to note is that we weren’t able to discover a real SportsTech ecosystem in China, when it comes to accelerator/incubator programs, events and other initiatives. There are some of the typical big ticket events such as SoccerX and Sports Tech Asia, but as of now, they all lack a startup component.

For obvious reasons China was the hardest market we’ve created an overview for so far. Despite the challenges, we have utilised our available resources -spending more time on research, validating our database further and reaching out to local experts and journalists. That said there are likely some missing companies or initiatives, so we’re happy to receive any additional information that could be relevant.

The four sectors of SportsTech

Here’s a brief description of how we divided the SportsTech landscape.

Activity & Performance: Solutions surrounding the actual performance, no matter if it’s before, during or after the activity. Typical offerings are data tracker, wearables and new kinds of sports equipment.

Management & Organisation: Solutions that help to manage organisations, venues, leagues and events. Also covers platforms to find other sportsmen, coaches, etc. and to buy products and services, such as tickets or trips.

Media & Fans: Solutions that provide sports interested people and companies with all kinds of content and data. Also includes social platforms that help with branding and connecting fans with athletes, teams, etc.

Games & Bets: Companies that provide eSports, Fantasy Sports and Betting solutions, for players & gamers and as a service.

Note: Some companies cover two or even more sectors/subsectors. For the purpose of this overview they had to be assigned to only one.

Here are a few exciting Sports Tech companies emerging from China that we want to highlight.

Atlas Live Tracking: Comprehensive race solution for athletes, organisers and spectators providing a live tracking wearable device.

Champdas: Internet & sports company that integrates data collection, data mining, visualization, and data productization.

Coachbase: Basketball focussed platform for coaches to plan practice and strategy for their team.

Cubee: Sports data company with a variety of services form Big Data analytics to Fantasy gaming to Media solutions.

Coollang Asia: Creator of Smart sensors to be attached to racquets for Table Tennis and Tennis and to Baseball bats, all connectable to mobile devices.

Hupu: Online platform with news and content about various sports.

Saihuitong: SaaS platform for sports event organisers to create and manage events.

T-Goal: Smart wearables for football analytics aimed at amateur players such as school, youth and city league.

Trainerbot: Smart Table Tennis coaching robot providing access to vast number of drills.

You think I’ve missed a company? Reach me via LinkedIn, Twitter or mail.

Distribution within the country

City distribution: Beijing and Shanghai emerge as the major hubs for Sports Tech with Hong Kong in 3rd. The 3 cities combine to account for 66% of the market. However China also has wider coverage than most countries with companies from 24 cities covered as part of the research.

Sector distribution: “Marketplaces & Discovery” (under Management & Organisation) and “News & Content” (under Media & Fans) are once again the dominant sectors in the China SportsTech market accounting for a combined 43% of the total. However, Activity and Performance accounts for 26% of the total, more than seen in other markets. Interestingly we didn’t find any startups in “Media Data & Analytics” and “Fan Engagement & Social Platforms”.

More data coming up

I’m constantly publishing insights from the international SportsTech ecosystem and also run a podcast about SportsTech startups and the initiatives surrounding them. So stay tuned and feel free to connect!

This article was again co-developed and written with the great Rohn Malhotra after we already published similar overviews for India and for Southeast Asia. Thanks Rohn for the great collaboration!

Benjamin Penkert is the Founder of SportsTechX and Head of Consulting at leAD Sports in Berlin. You can get in touch via Linkedin, Twitter or email.

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