(Photo by Paige Gross)
Sportstech is on the rise, and SeventySix Capital knows it.
At last week’s second annual Sports Innovation Conference, produced by the Conshohocken-based VC firm, six startup founders from around the U.S. had the opportunity to pitch their sportstech ventures to a panel of judges, including former Philadelphia Phillies player Ryan Howard and NBA Hall of Famer Ralph Sampson.
The pitch competition capped off a day of panels at Citizen’s Bank Park about the future of innovation in sports, including a conversation about Nerd Street Gamers‘ esports deal with retailer Five Below.
Judges of the pitch competition included Howard, who’s also a SeventySix Capital investor; Sampson; Jennifer Fox, the president of wealth management at Bryn Mawr Trust; and Jeff Kunowski, associate director of innovation programs of the Global Sport Institute at Arizona State University.
The startups covered a range of technologies and services in the sports industry, from livestreamed games and music to fitness and youth sports platforms. Each founder had only a few minutes to talk up their venture and answer questions from judges.
First up was Jason Fox, founder of Austin-based Earbuds Inc., an app that allows users to listen along to whatever music professional athletes are listening to.
Howard asked Foxed how Earbuds was differentiating and marketing itself, while listeners can find athletes’ Spotify playlists online.
The app works across various platforms like Spotify or Apple Music, Fox said, and offers a direct livestream to what an athlete is listening to at that very moment.
Forte founder and former Wall Street-er Lauren Foundos was up next, pitching her New York City-based livestreamed fitness class subscription service and platform. Foundos’ team works with fitness studios across the country to install cameras that allow users across the world to tune in to a variety of classes.
Foundos said her goal is to make fitness more accessible and more engaging.
“People are saying I’m making their lives better and I never made anyone’s lives better on Wall Street,” she told the panel.
Third was Monmouth County, New Jersey-based iSport360 founder Ian Goldberg, who pitched the youth sports development platform, which allows coaches, players and parents to set goals, share player feedback, track player progress and engage with other parents.
Goldberg said he’s currently in the middle of raising between $500,000 and $1 million for the startup.
New York City-based Vici Sports was fourth, and startup founder Adam Jones told judges that the custom TV channel brings the ability to have a custom sports watching experience to bars and venues everywhere. Currently, Jones said, broadcast giant Comcast is the startup’s biggest competitor, as the company works to improve the pregame experience for viewers.
Evan Wimer, of Wexford, Pennsylvania-based C360 Technologies told judges about the app that allows fans to livestream games on their mobile devices from different angles via C360 cameras that are placed inside venues.
“It’s the way sports were meant to be viewed,” Jones told the panel.
Last up was Dean Blandino of Irvine, California-based startup and app Whistle, a platform for referees to connect, get paid, pick up game assignments and track games in a more organized and convenient way.
Essentially, Blandino said, “we’re delivering freedom from your laptop.”
Judges ultimately awarded the top prize of $5,000 to C360 Technologies, second place of $3,000 to virtual fitness platform Forte and third place of a $2,000 prize to youth sports coaching app iSport360.
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