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SportsTech in April — A summary

Investments - NFTs - Sleep - Repeat

It seems like this is the pattern the SportsTech world is following in 2021. And April was no exception to that, but added a nice little flavour with some hub/accelerator-related highlights. Here we go!

🤑 Investors keep their wallets open

In last month’s article we wrote about the incredible $1b+ of investment that went into SportsTech companies in March. While that naturally cooled down a little bit we still saw three big deals that combined for over $400m of investment in April:

  • Chinese fitness startup FITURE has secured $300m investment round. The Mirror competitor raised its third round in six months, the investment was co-led by Legend Capital and also featured Bertelsmann Asia Investments, Tencent and Nio Capital
  • Jeff Bezos, Drake and others invest $80m in sports media company Overtime. The company distributes original sports content on social media outlets and recently announced a paid basketball league for young players
  • Gamified connected rowing machine Ergatta raises $30m. The round was led by Advance Venture Partners with participation from Greycroft, Fifth Wall, Gaingels and Hans Tung (GGV). The funding will go toward developing new content, competition and (of course) social features for its platform. Seems like the “Peloton for X” movement doesn’t lose traction

Besides the above mentioned it was Peloton who announced that they are raising a $875m post-IPO round. That might also be needed in the realm of the current issues the company is facing.

While the world slowly gets out of the pandemic it seems like Fitness and Content keep being the dominant themes in SportsTech.

👾 NFTs don’t stop

Talking about dominant themes… It is still one of THE topics in sports (and probably the entire world) this year: Non-fungible tokens. Reason enough for us to set up Nifty Sports, your single source of information about NFTs in sports. Here are the two highlight launches of the month:

  • The Golden State Warriors launched an NFT collection, claiming to be the the first professional sports team to do so. They call it the “legacy collection”, already hinting that it’s a journey into the franchise’s past. It consists of virtual championship rings and ticket stubs, that in the ring case also have a physical equivalent. The unique items also come with a “Warrior for a Day” experience which includes a mock “one-day contract”, courtside tickets for two, a “Honorary Captain” experience, etc. And boy was that a success! The 329 items were sold for 677 ETH, which as of today (May 5) is about two million euros. Well played!
  • The MLB launched their first baseball card NFT collection in cooperation with Topps (who announced to go public in a $1.16b SPAC deal), the long-term partner of the league in physical collectibles (aka trading cards), and WAX as a tech partner on who’s blockchain the NFTs are created, sold and traded. The result: All available packs (standard and premium) were sold out within the first two hours of the launch (April 20) for about $2.65m in revenues. The revenue on the secondary market was around 8 million USD in the rest of the month. On the flipside the project had some tech issues around the initial pack drop, not being able to handle the massive amount of requests they had. Nevertheless a good debut for the MLB!

All other news, drops, trades and insights about NFTs in Sports on Nifty Sports! And make sure to follow us on Instagram and Twitter as well.

🚀 Hubs & Accelerators are getting active

It feels like it’s been relatively quiet for some time when it comes to hub and accelerator news. But that has changed now, potentially due to the fact that many programs still have a seasonal approach, and spring being a popular time to announce new activities. Here’s the news from last month:

  • The Minnesota Twins launch an accelerator with Techstars. The plan: Support 30 startups in three annual cohorts. Details on what they are looking for have not been revealed yet, but the Twins are “striving to innovate on and off the field”. Applications open May 10 and the kickoff for the 13-week program is November. We like that a pro team is partnering up with a respected and successful startup player in the market who brings in the relevant expertise and an excellent network.
  • Startupbootcamp’s Sport & EventTech Accelerator Australia announces their new cohort which will be held virtually from May onwards. The 10 selected startups come from all over the world. Here are the winners: Atlas Coaching (feedback & analysis), CityGuyd (augment real life guides & figures), Famecast (help influencers), Full Venue (likelihood of a fan to make a purchase), Homefans (Airbnb for sports experiences), Promoshare (closed marketplace), refbook (connect, manage, appoint & track sports official), Row Nation (Indoor Rowing community), SportMatch (digital talent ID platform) and Sportvot (platform for sport bodies to stream their games).
  • Launch of the Barcelona Sports Tech Hub to make the city an international leader in SportsTech. The idea is to bring together companies, large corporations, institutions, start-ups and other tech stakeholders with an emphasis on three aspects: 1) High performance sport, 2) Water sports and the promotion of the blue economy, 3) Sports activity for the public. This also includes an incubator located at the Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys and a project for the Port Olímpic. As this is a publicly funded project they also announced that the initial investment is 3 million euros. We are happy to see this initiatives as our European SportsTech Report showed that there are a lot of Spanish startups in sports, but so far they’ve been struggling to succeed and to raise investment.
  • Last but not least there’s the newly started MoveWell European accelerator for sports, movement and physiotherapy. It is an initiative created by eHealth Valley and a large network of partners, including healthcare incumbents (PartenaMut, Partena Ziekenfonds and Goed), retail institutions (Decathlon) and top-tier universities and physiotherapy centers. Move Well aims to select and help 5–10 startups by providing innovators and founders with the specific help they need to grow their project. The application phase just closed, lets see which startups they’ll select.

Techstars, Startupbootcamp and two new initiatives in Europe: This was an interesting month and brings new opportunities for SportsTech startups on a global level.

🧹 Finishing up

And that is it, the fourth article in our monthly series that looks back on what happened in the world of SportsTech. The next article of this series will be published in the first week of June. In the meantime make sure to check out our other content:

And have a look at Hello SportsTech, where we showcase cool, new SportsTech apps & devices and present the latest top news.

Have a great day!

Benjamin Penkert is the Founder of Berlin based SportsTechX — Data & insights about startups and innovation in sports. You can get in touch via Linkedin, Twitter or email.

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Benjamin Penkert

Benjamin Penkert

Founder of @sportstechx. All about #sportstech and #startups.