(Photo courtesy of LIFT Labs)
A Canadian-bred, women-focused sports newsletter is expanding its reach this week as it launches its first American version in Philadelphia this fall, the company announced Thursday.
The GIST, which was launched in Toronto last year by a group of college friends who felt there wasn’t a dedicated space for women sports fans, expands to Philly as it wraps up the 2019 Comcast NCBUniversal LIFT Labs accelerator.
The twice-weekly newsletter covers women’s and men’s sports “from a female perspective,” and its website hosts pools, brackets, drafts and viewing parties. It also has resources for fans who want to learn more, and content that dives into topics like motherhood and maternity leave in the sports industry.
The expansion includes a wider U.S. newsletter, and one tailored to Philadelphia sports.
Cofounders Jacie deHoop, Roslyn McLarty and Ellen Hyslop celebrated the expansion Wednesday night at a launch party at the LIFT Labs space. The team is rounded out by a full-time social media manager.
deHoop said the team kept some stats in mind when deciding to launch The GIST: Only a tiny percentage of media coverage goes to female athletes (about 4%, per UNESCO), there are very few female C-suite executives among the Big Four leagues, and just a fraction of sports journalists are women.
“It’s no wonder so many women don’t feel that sports are for them,” she said.
“We are tired of sports feeling like a boys’ club. We are tired of being mansplained to and not being included in the pools, brackets and drafts,” deHoop added. “Sports news today feels like it’s created for an avid male fan. So we decided to do something about it.”
The newsletters were first drafted by Hyslop, but now the team has a group of content creators. Philly’s newsletter is produced by a writer who lives in Toronto now, but is a Philly-area native.
The GIST’s revenue comes from brand partnerships and the startup has worked with brands like Bumble, Lululemon and the Ottawa Senators. GISTers also pay to attend viewing parties and events, deHoop said.
The company previously worked on its business development in incubators like Facebook’s Digital News Innovation Challenge and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment in the first cohort of the Future of Sport Lab.
It’s also been the only Canadian team accepted to Comcast’s LIFT Labs Accelerator.
“We have been able to meet and work with some really impressive mentors through both Comcast NBCUniversal and Techstars,” deHoop said. “Plus we’ve been loving Philly as a city — everyone has been incredibly welcoming which definitely contributed to why we wanted to launch here first.”
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