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Sports Loft Podcast
Sports Loft works with the most exciting tech startups in sport and entertainment. Listen for our network’s insight into sport, entertainment, investment and technology.
Nov 21, 2023
Ryan Sports Ventures: Investing in people that change the game
This week Yanni and Charlie welcome Paul Hourigan onto the podcast to get his view on the world of sports, media and entertainment investment. Paul is partner at Ryan Sports Ventures, the sports investment arm of the Chicago-based Ryan family, which has a sports portfolio that spans interests in the Chicago Bears and AFC Bournemouth, plus tech businesses like Tagboard. During the episode, we learn the strategy behind RSV’s involvement with Bournemouth and the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, Paul explains why he thinks sport’s reliance on sponsorship and rights sales needs a rethink, and we ask for his hot sectors to watch in 2024. Spoiler: AI gets a mention. Our favourite sections included Paul's reflections on the tailwinds in women's sports, and the growth potential for businesses which are able to take sports data and make it genuinely actionable. Timestamps: * 08:30 – The difficulty of focusing on multiple verticals * 12:00 – The returns of investing in teams versus technology * 19:00 – The background to the AFC Bournemouth deal * 26:30 – Learnings from the world of rugby * 34:00 – The over-reliance on sponsorship and rights sales * 41:00 – The use of AI in sports tech * 45:30 – Evaluating what a good return is
Nov 7, 2023
BMW, Karta and marketing in the metaverse
This week's podcast features Yanni and Andy taking a deep dive into the world of gaming with Pia Schörner, head of digital content creation & BMW Metaverse at BMW, and Erik Londré, co-founder and CEO of Karta – the Sports Loft member which works with sports teams and music artists to build experiences in games like Roblox and Fortnite. We dig into how sports organisations and other brands can incorporate gaming as part of their marketing mix, touching on in-game merchandise, measuring success and picking the right platform. Highlights include Pia pushing BMW execs to allow gamers to blow up Bimmers in a game (“the community will like it and they'll talk about it because it's authentic”), Erik on the thrill of live esports events, and how to find the “sweet spot” that allows for both authentic gaming experiences and brand promotion. Our guests also reveal lessons learnt from their recent projects and discuss why engaging with younger audiences on these platforms is so crucial for brands who want to stay relevant – across the world of sports and beyond. Timestamps: 06:30 – Defining the metaverse 13:00 – How sports can utilise the metaverse 15:45 – The pros and cons of e-sports as a marketing tool 23:30 – The process of designing an activation 29:30 – Marrying brands with the gaming platform 36:30 – Using gaming to boost relevancy 40:00 – KPIs and indicators of success
Oct 24, 2023
RX3 Growth Partners: consumer investment alongside athletes
In this month's Investor's View episode, Yanni sits down with Andrew Costa, partner at RX3 Growth Partners, a consumer growth equity firm co-founded by NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers. To kick off, Andrew gives us an overview of RX3's operational strategy, which focuses on investments in consumer wellness and sports companies. The unique part of the model is the way the group draws on the networks, knowledge and insights of their athlete and celebrity backers to benefit the consumer focused companies they invest in. Later in the discussion, Andrew sheds light on RX3's meticulous decision-making process and their focus within the consumer wellness and fitness sector. He elaborates on the skills and traits RX3 looks for in founders and shares insights into the growth areas that are exciting him, and shares his take on the state of the market. With a successfully deployed first fund of $50 million across 19 portfolio companies, RX3 is now looking for opportunities to invest in from its second fund, a $150 million vehicle. Timestamps: 06:00 – Moving from one-off investments to building a fun? 09:00 – Onboarding athletes as LPs14:00 – Deciphering fad trends versus long-term shifts 21:00 – Managing sponsor clashes 26:00 – Estimating growth returns on investments 31:00 – Backing big brands versus high growth startups 38:00 – Where RX3 add value beyond dollars 44:00 – Regretting missed opportunities
Oct 12, 2023
The role of machine learning in sports, and how to build an AI startup
This week we’re discussing the intersection of sports, media and artificial intelligence. Join our host Yanni and founder Charlie, as they sit down with Don White, CEO and co-founder of Satisfi Labs, and Jamie Wilde, head of technology & data science at Greenfly. The main focus of this episode is the transformative impact of AI in the sports and media industry. We'll explore how companies like Greenfly (which recently acquired machine learning startup Miro, which Jamie co-founded) and Satisfi Labs are utilising AI to enhance fan engagement, streamline sports operations, and create compelling sports-related content. Together, we'll uncover the challenges faced in training AI models using vast and complex sports data, and how these challenges are being overcome. Our panel also dive into the intricacies of running an AI company. From the hurdles of budgeting and talent retention to the evolving business models and staying ahead of commoditisation, our guests will share their insights into the dynamic world of AI startups. Join us as we unravel the potential of AI in sports and media, and discover how these innovations are reshaping the future of the industry. Timestamps: 08:00 – How mature is AI usage in sports today? 13:00 – The role of AI in the Satisfi proposition 20:00 – The Greenfly acquisition of Miro 31:45 – The impact of AI on human personnel 35:00 – How AI startups can retain the best talent 42:00 – How to avoid commoditisation 50:00 – The applicability of AI between sports
1 hr 1 min
Sep 22, 2023
WISE Ventures: supporting the evolution of next-gen businesses
In the latest episode of the Sports Loft Podcast, Yanni is joined by Konrad von Moltke, principal of New York-based investment group, WISE Ventures. Within the WISE portfolio, you'll find familiar names like Sports Loft member companies Tagboard and FEVO, plus former member Slate, and many more across the sports, media and entertainment space. Konrad takes us behind the scenes at WISE, revealing why the firm likes to assume board positions in their investments, the art of crafting a robust cap table, and his secret for juggling numerous moving parts and projects (hint: you've just got to stay impeccably organised!).In September's 'Investor's View' episode Konrad also explains that for him, one of the most important skills for a founder to have is the ability to sell a vision. Timestamps: 08:30 – Tech adoption in sports organisations 14:00 – The WISE thesis and strategic approach 19:30 – Active deployment in 2023 23:00 – Why take board positions 25:00 – Tagboard and building a great cap table 28:00 – What do you look for in founding teams? 35:00 – The strength of being organised
Sep 13, 2023
How star signing drive fandom, and is short-form content king?
This week on the podcast, Yanni is joined by a trio of industry experts, including Kristen Rodgers, the sports and media partnerships lead at Tagboard, Matt Gentry, 77 Sports Management’s managing director and Andy Selby, Sports Loft’s very own head of strategy. Our first discussion kicks off with a deep dive into how leagues that sit outside of Europe’s top tier are using star signings to grow their fanbases. Our guests examine the Messi transfer to Inter Miami and the arrivals of Ronaldo, Benzema, and Henderson in the Saudi Pro League, exploring their impact on the league's popularity. Moving on, we dig into the changing consumption habits in sports media, fueled by the rise of short-form content. With YouTube execs expressing concern that Shorts is cannibalising its core product, Matt, Kristen and Andy discuss what’s driving the shift to bitesize formats and what it means for sports. Plus, they examine the evolving strategies of young athletes, as they navigate the world of content and find themselves becoming influencers and content creators. Timestamps: * 07:00 – Messi to Inter Miami * 09:00 – Athletes as creators * 12:45 – Building athlete brands * 18:00 – Saudi Pro League vs MLS * 22:00 – Athletes as investors * 30:00 – Short-form vs long-form content * 36:00 – How social media is impacting other formats * 41:00 – Young athletes navigating social media * 44:00 – The success of the docuseries format
Aug 25, 2023
West River Group: investing in the global innovation economy
In the fourth episode of this summer's Investor's View series, we welcome Anthony Bontrager, managing director of West River Group. Anthony's 25 years of experience spans founding his own businesses, holding board positions at a number of portfolio companies, and leading the technology investment practice at West River. Tech is just one of the four sectors the 'investment platform' focuses on, with experience (ie. entertainment), decarbonisation, and life sciences being the rest. Sport intersects with those in a number of interesting ways, which is why we had to invite Anthony on the podcast. Over the course of our conversation Anthony explains what he's looking for when founders approach West River for funding, what he and the group can offer once a deal is done, and how entrepreneurs should be operating in the current economic landscape. It's a fascinating chat with tens of takeaways for those looking to build their own businesses. Timestamps: * 02:15 – The West River Group thesis and proposition * 05:30 – Where sports comes into the equation * 10:00 – The power of data in the sports space * 14:00 – What makes a good founder from the VC perspective? * 21:00 – Negotiation, valuation and setting terms * 29:00 – The impact of the interest rate shake-up * 35:00 – The next geographical tech hubs * 40:00 – AI and other areas of interest
Aug 15, 2023
The new social media landscape, and the evolution of pre-season tours
This week Yanni is joined by Nick Shaw, managing director of EMEA at Greenfly, and Keegan Pierce, managing director for the UK and Ireland at La Liga, as they dissect the dynamic world of sports social media and global pre-season tours. In part one, our guests explain how they’re navigating the fast-changing social media landscape. Nick Shaw outlines Greenfly's role in fan engagement and his tips for operating in this period of flux. While Keegan Pierce shares La Liga's innovative social strategies, which involves managing accounts across 20 different social media platforms and has resulted in it being the most followed football league on social media. Later in the episode, we delve into how teams and leagues are changing their approaches to pre-season tours – from visiting new territories to trying out new broadcast solutions. Plus, Yanni revisits his Women’s World Cup prediction and takes another bite at the cherry. Timestamps * 02:45 – Favourite sporting moments of the week * 07:00 – How Greenfly is used by sports organisations * 10:00 – LaLiga's approach to social media * 13:45 – Where social should sit in the organisation * 19:45 – LaLiga Tech * 26:45 – Democratising content and the power of athlete brands * 33:30 – Predictions for X, the company formerly known as Twitter * 37:00 – What are the goals of pre-season tours? * 41:30 – Making the most of the pre-season
Aug 9, 2023
Techstars: accelerating startups across sports and tech
This week Yanni welcomes Jordan Fliegel, managing director of Techstars NYC and Techstars Sports. Over the course of the conversation, Jordan details how Techstars identifies promising startups, and the ways it works with successful applicants to help their businesses develop. The pair also cover the equity terms and ongoing support offered by the accelerator. As well as Jordan's search for “the Topgolf of fishing”, the discussion touches on what qualities Techstars looks for in its founders, their teams, and products, plus the sectors and areas that are exciting Jordan in 2023. This leads to the unlikely story of how Jordan became an early investor in Lemon Perfect. Founded by former basketball coach Yanni Hufnagel, the hydration company has since raised more than $70m. Jordan is a former managing partner at Founders First, an angel fund and syndicate. He was co-founder and CEO of CoachUp, a platform to connect athletes with coaches. Among other ventures, he was co-CEO of Draft.com – a fantasy sports site which sold to Paddy Power Betfair in 2017 for ~$48m. Timestamps 04:30 – What does an accelerator like Techstars do? 09:30 – How does Techstars attract and vet companies? 14:00 – The decision process of admitting a company 23:00 – What the end goal for each company they bring in? 18:30 – What makes a company too mature for Techstars? 31:15 – Where Jordan expects to find the next big opportunity 38:15 – How the economic landscape has shifted 43:20 – What makes a good founder or team? 56:00 – Lemon Perfect
Jul 28, 2023
The Women’s World Cup, and the ‘Netflixication’ of sport
In this week’s Sports Loft Podcast, we explore the broadcast and sponsorship landscape surrounding the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, NWSL and Super League. To unpick it all, we’ve called upon Jenny Mitton, director and women’s sport lead at M&C Saatchi Sport and Entertainment, who’s worked on some of the biggest sports sponsorships of recent times. Joining Jenny and host Yanni Andreopoulos are returning guests Tom Read, chief commercial officer of Spalk, and FEVO’s chief revenue officer, Josh Rose. Our panel assesses the state of play when it comes to broadcast infrastructure, sponsorship activations, commercial opportunities and more. And in the second part, we switch gears to explore the fascinating landscape of sports content streaming. As Netflix hints at venturing into live sports, potentially launching a new golf competition, we ponder its implications for the industry and ask whether some sports need Netflix more than Netflix needs sport. Answers on a postcard please. Timestamps * 02:00 – Favourite sporting moments of the week * 06:30 – The viral Orange Women’s World Cup ad * 12:30 – Investment in broadcast production around the women's game * 17:15 – The opportunities around women's football and other sports * 25:20 – Does sport need Netflix more than Netflix needs sport? * 27:50 – The changing landscape of sports distribution * 30:30 – Which stories should Netflix and others focus on? This episode references: * The Drum – The Orange Women’s World Cup ad is dividing the internet
Jul 19, 2023
Where Sapphire Sport will invest its second fund
Our most recent episode of ‘An Investor’s View’ features Michael Spirito, a founding partner and lead investor of Sapphire Sport, the $300m venture firm that counts City Football Group, adidas and AEG among its limited partners. With its first fund, deployed between 2018 and 2021, Sapphire invested in Sports Loft member company FEVO, among others. Now, having raised $180m from many of its original partners, plus some new names, Michael and the team are on the hunt for new opportunities. Yanni and Michael explore where Sapphire Sport hopes to find its next round of investments, how the firm’s thesis is being employed in the current market, and what advice Sapphire is giving to founders across its portfolio. ----- This episode was recorded in May 2023
Jul 6, 2023
Apex Capital: investing with the world’s best athletes
In our new series of ‘An Investor’s View’ podcasts, host Yanni Andreopoulos sits down with Antonio Cacorino, founder and CEO of Apex Capital. In this episode, we explore the opportunities around investing in high-growth tech startups in the sports industry, taking a deep dive into Apex's approach to venture capital – investing with active and former athletes. We ask: what qualities do sports people have that make them good investors? Among plenty more, Antonio gives us his thoughts on the evolving web3 and gaming sectors, offers us his pick of exciting growth areas, and explains what he looks for in the businesses Apex invests in. This episode was recorded in April 2023.
Jun 21, 2023
How Covatic’s privacy-first approach to advertising can disrupt sport
Join Yanni as he chats with Nick Pinks, CEO and founder of Covatic, the Sports Loft member company that's revolutionising advertising through its private-by-design ad-tech. First up, the pair discuss its applications for sports, allowing Nick to explain how Covatic empowers teams and rights-holders to foster stronger connections with their audiences through targeted content distribution. The discussion then moves onto the impressive strides clients like Bauer Media Group and Comcast NBC are making by building Covatic into their advertising strategies. Nick opens up about what it's been like to work with such giants of media, and the feedback they've received along the way. Finally, on the back of its recent Series A, the pair also discuss Covatic's growth strategy, Nick's personal development as a founder, his approach to building up the team, and what the future holds for the business.
Jun 5, 2023
Our takeaways from the Sports Loft Showcase 2023
In this week's Sports Loft Podcast, Yanni sits down with our very own Charlie Greenwood, CEO and founder of Sports Loft, plus Andy Selby, our head of strategy. Together, they reflect on the highlights and key themes raised at the Sports Loft Showcase 2023. After giving a quick recap of the event, we dig into the biggest trend of 2023: the impact of AI. Undoubtedly it will have major repercussions for the sports industry, so it was fascinating to see how AI is already being used to solve problems and create opportunity. In the podcast, we discuss how companies like Move.ai, Satisfi, Greenfly, FEVO, and Spalk are using artificial intelligence to do just that. Fundraising is another significant topic the tech industry is wrestling with, and our panel addresses misconceptions around the availability of VC funds, highlighting successful fundraising efforts. Finally, the Sports Loft team explores the opportunities for women's sports to benefit from technology, focusing on how innovative so…
May 9, 2023
Making brands playable with Sports Loft’s newest member
“For us, every conversation starts with who are you trying to reach?” These are the words of Erik Londré, CEO and co-founder of Karta – the ‘metaverse studio’ that’s making brands playable by building fan-focused activations inside the most popular virtual worlds. Karta boasts an impressive client base that includes Amazon Music, Ronald McDonald House, K-pop group TWICE, and Unilever. And in this week's podcast, Yanni chats with Erik to learn about the process of developing award-winning immersive experiences for these brands and organisations on platforms like Roblox and Fortnite. Over the course of the episode, Erik introduces Karta and his own background in esports, explains his thinking around how to best engage fans in these spaces, and discusses his vision for how all brands – across the sports and entertainment ecosystem – will soon have a presence in the metaverse.
Apr 13, 2023
Athlete brands: why authenticity is key from social media to the metaverse
In this episode, Yanni is joined by Simon Oliveira, managing director and founder of KIN Partners, Daniel Kirschner, co-founder, CEO and president at Greenfly, and Ant Ganjou, co-founder of Move.ai and sports entrepreneur. It's an all-star panel to discuss the evolution of athlete brand-building: Simon managed the image of David Beckham at the height of his fame and recently worked on bringing Neymar Jr into the Fortnite and Call of Duty games. Greenfly, run by Daniel, allows athletes and their teams and agents to share and distribute short form social media content quickly and efficiently. And Ant's Move.ai is able to accurately capture and digitise human movement using basic cameras, smart software and AI, opening up a raft of applications – from licensing athletes' signature moves to embedding them in films, video games and more. Throughout the course of the episode, the panel explores the value of authenticity, the impact of social media – how it's changed the relationship at…
Apr 3, 2023
Marketing sports events with deep historic ties
In this episode, we take a look back at the recently concluded Cheltenham Festival, one of the biggest fixtures on the UK sports calendar. Our guests are Olaf Gueldner, chief marketing officer at The Jockey Club, Nick Goggans, CEO and founder of PumpJack Dataworks, and Tom Read, chief commercial officer at Spalk. Host Yanni kicks things off this week by asking Olaf about the success of Cheltenham this year and how his team approach marketing a sporting event with deep historic roots. The panel then dives into the challenges faced by organisers of such events, why knowing your audience can help to improve the fan experience, and how data is crucial for developing successful marketing strategies. Our guests also talk about the importance of broadcast and streaming for growing the sport and finding new fans, as well as the potential of audio and commentary in building relationships with fans and racegoers. Finally, as ever, we ask our guests to share their favourite recent sporting mom…
Mar 16, 2023
Turning a crowd into a fanbase
In this week's edition of the Sports Loft podcast, host Yanni Andreopoulos is joined by three expert guests to discuss how sports teams and leagues can use a range of tactics to grow their fanbases and audiences. Adrian Wells, chief marketing officer at Harlequins F.C, Don White, CEO and co-founder of Satisfi Labs, and Josh Rose, chief revenue officer at Fevo, explore the ways sports teams and rights-holders can attract new fans, including big one-off events, sports and sponsorship crossovers and live overseas activations. They also discuss the imperative for sports and teams to attract a younger and more diverse audience, as well as the challenges that come with selling to broader audiences in addition to superfans. The guests draw on their personal experiences, including the recent Harlequins Big Game 14 at Twickenham versus Exeter Chiefs.
Mar 8, 2023
The NFL’s plan to develop global football fandom
For the second year running, this year’s Super Bowl was streamed in Japanese via NFL Game Pass – the league’s direct-to-consumer (DTC) platform. The goal? To bring new fans to the sport and serve existing fans better. It worked, with viewership increasing year-on-year by triple-figure percentages. Japan isn’t the only country on the radar of Samson Mayall, the NFL’s senior manager of direct-to-consumer. Game Pass delivers year-round NFL content to fans across Latin America in a range of local languages. Germany, a hotbed of American football fandom, has also been trialled. In total, fans can access NFL content in 200 countries around the world. Behind each of the local language streams is Spalk – the remote commentary platform that makes broadcasting multi-language sportscasts simple. In this episode, Yanni is joined by Samson and Tom Read, chief commercial officer at Spalk, to discuss the partnership, the NFL’s approach to developing global fandom and how direct-to-con…
Feb 6, 2023
Going global: localising sports for millions of fans
This week Yanni is joined by Ben Reynolds, CEO and co-founder of Spalk, the remote commentary platform that enables sports from around the world to be localised for different audiences through language, dialect and even team allegiance. Spalk combines its Virtual Commentary Studio with a Talent Marketplace. This means broadcasters and right-holders have the software to put out broadcast-quality commentary from anywhere with an internet connection, and have access to a vast array of sportscasters spanning tens of sports, languages and regions. Today Spalk boasts more than 2,500 commentators across some 50 countries, covering 30+ sports, including some of the biggest events on the global calendar. We catch up with Ben to hear about the successes of 2022 (including the football World Cup), the potential of remote commentary for providing niche audiences with unprecedented levels of personalisation, and how Spalk customers are turning what was previously a cost centre into a revenue str…
Jan 24, 2023
Bouncing back: the resilience of live sports events
Across Europe and the United States, sports events are selling out. If venues seem packed, it’s because they are: the UK cumulative attendance record was broken last year with 76.2 million people attending sport in 2022. This prompted us to ask two questions. Firstly, has sport bounced back from the difficulties of the pandemic era? And, secondly, what can rights holders and venues do to capitalise on this in the face of a shifting economic landscape? To discuss all this, we welcome to the podcast Ari Daie, CEO and founder of Sports Loft member company FEVO, and Nathan Homer, chief commercial officer of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Nathan and Ari are the perfect guests to discuss these trends, with perspectives that cover making the ticket buying process easier and more social, and ensuring the live event is enticing and exciting as possible. As Nathan explains, demographics are shifting and fans expect more from their ticket than just 90 minutes of sporting action – from se…
Dec 14, 2022
US soccer post-World Cup, ChatGPT and the growth of DTC
This year's World Cup might be about to reach its crescendo, but at Sports Loft we're already looking ahead. In this week's roundtable podcast, with an eye on the 2026 World Cup, we ask whether the US can realise its potential of becoming a soccer, ahem, football superpower and debate what's helping and what's hindering its national and domestic teams on their respective journeys. Our panel also discuss whether the launch of ChatGPT marks the true beginning of the Age of AI with respect to, and even find time to dig into why the sports sector is seeing a proliferation of new direct to consumer (DTC) products from rights holders, such as FIFA, Manchester United and others. In this edition of the Sports Loft Podcast, host Yanni Andreopoulos is joined by Daniel Kirschner, the president, CEO and co-founder of Greenfly, and Nick Goggans, co-founder and CEO of Pumpjack Dataworks. Making his debut on the pod is Pete Burns, VP of Commercial Strategy at Deltatre, who works with leading rights…
Nov 29, 2022
Reviewing our 2022 predictions and forecasting 2023
Each winter our head of strategy, Andy Selby, sits down with his crystal ball, a highlights video of Hull City’s 13/14 season and a hefty body of research, to predict the major trends that will impact the world of sports, media and tech in the coming year. This also gives us the annual opportunity to look back at the previous year’s predictions and see what came true and what didn’t. In this week’s podcast we do just that, with host Yanni Andreopoulos and Sports Loft CEO and founder, Charlie Greenwood, joining Andy in assessing the 2022 forecast, as well as casting an eye ahead to 2023 and what the year has in store. RSS: 3baa75c089bcedf8a675e5d070333d2db07288b2
Nov 17, 2022
The pros and cons of hiring talent from big tech
Kicking off a new series on the podcast, we brought in two of our members' CEOs, plus a bonafide industry expert, to discuss some of the key topics to have hit their in-tray this week. Regular host Yanni Andreopoulos was joined by Don White and Nathan Peterson, CEOs of Satisfi Labs and Tagboard, respectively, as well as sports sponsorship and comms guru Andy Sutherden. Andy has counselled major brands such as HSBC, Procter & Gamble and Adidas, led the sponsorship planning and activation for six of the major sponsors at London 2012 (and subsequent Olympics), and today advises companies from startups to FTSE 100s on partnership strategy. First up for dissection was the pros and cons of growing startups hiring talented people out of the big tech companies. We then turned our attention to the idea that many Silicon Valley VC firms are seeking returns so vast that they're overlooking viable investment opportunities in order to discover the next 'super unicorn'. ----more---- In this epis…
Oct 31, 2022
Kiki Mills Johnston: supporting female founders, athletes and investors
Kiki Mills Johnston is full of admiration for founders. "They just see through blockades," she says. "They see how to cross mountains and figure out how to get things done. That's why we do this job – it's just so inspiring to speak with founders every day." Kiki is our podcast guest this week, and in a wide-ranging conversation, we learn what drew her to the industry, the sectors that are exciting her right now and how she's working to improve the representation of women across the VC space, the startup world and the sports industry. We also dive into the founding story of Drive by DraftKings, its investment thesis and what the team looks for in the founders behind potential investment opportunities. Drive is an early-stage VC firm led by CEO and managing partner Meredith McPherron. It focuses wherever sports meets tech and media, counting Sports Loft member FEVO, fitness wearable scale-up Whoop and publishing platform Just Women's Sports among its portfolio. Its founding pa…
Oct 18, 2022
Investing where sports connects with the world
Our 'Investor's View' series continues this week with Nikhil Bahel, managing partner at Elysian Park Ventures. Nikhil heads up Elysian’s London base, with the goal of broadening the footprint and horizons of the Los Angeles-based firm. We were keen to catch up with him to discuss the rapid growth around women’s sports versus traditional franchises, and dive into what Europe can learn from the American sports model. The conversation also spanned the hangover of the pandemic and its impact on the sports ecosystem. “Coming out of the pandemic when no live sports had been played, I think it made everyone sit back and say, ‘is our model working?’ And the ones who came out of it well were the US sports franchises,” says Nihkil. “There is a precedent where the US teams and leagues have got the model right from a commercialisation, monetisation and professionalisation perspective. I think there’s been an acceleration of the European leagues and federations across sports looki…
Oct 3, 2022
Move.ai – where artificial intelligence meets the metaverse
Imagine being able to exactly capture how Ronaldo steps over the ball in the World Cup final, how Serena Williams serves during a crucial Wimbledon set, or how McIlroy tees off at the US Open. Now imagine off the shelf action cameras and some AI-powered software being the only tools needed for the job. No ping pong ball sensors. No silly suits. No specialist studios. That’s the promise of motionless motion capture developer Move.ai, Sports Loft’s newest member. In this episode, Yanni chats with co-founder Ant Ganjou to hear more about “where artificial intelligence meets the metaverse.” Along the way, we learn how capturing athletes movements on the field of play will become the most valuable IP in the media industry, discover the implications for gaming and movie production – in both the amateur and professional fields – and explore the disruptive potential of reducing motion capture costs from the hundreds of thousands to hundreds of dollars. “That’s the beautiful t…
Sep 20, 2022
The nuances of growth stage investment, with Jasmine Robinson
The fourth in our 'Investor's View' series welcomes Sports Loft advisory board member and partner at Causeway, Jasmine Robinson, enabling us to dive into how growth-stage venture capital differs to early investment models. Along the way, the conversation touches upon using angel investment as a 'foot-in-the-door' strategy, the challenges of investing in B2C businesses in a downturn, and what makes web3.0 startups such an interesting proposition in these times. Causeway, founded by Wyc Grousbeck, Bob Higgins and Mark Wan is one of the most respected names in growth-stage sports, media and entertainment investment, with a portfolio that spans broadcasters such as FloSports, rights holders like Formula E and tech scale-ups like Zwift and Freeletics. So, it's fascinating to hear what it takes to keep an ear to the ground across all these verticals within the sports environment. Jasmine also explains her relationship-driven approach to seeking out Causeway's next big investment, discusses…
Aug 22, 2022
Investing in the shift in consumer spend and interest
“What we realised early on is that the consumer sentiment is shifting," says Deepen Parikh, Partner at Courtside Ventures and guest on this week's Sports Loft Podcast. "When you look at a younger consumer and the way they interact with sports – whether it’s through live streaming or audio, whether they’re fans of a team or players, even what they view as sports – these were all areas that were dramatically shifting.” When Courtside was founded in 2015, it was this realisation that informed the investment strategy of the New York firm, leading to successful early stage backing of startups operating across the sports, tech and media landscape, including adjacent sectors. Part of the founding team, Deepen instrumental in Courtside's involvement in sports media giant The Athletic, personalised nutrition business Gainful, esports and lifestyle organisation 100 Thieves, and many more. We caught up with him to dig into where he sees the opportunities today (and which sectors Cou…
Jul 25, 2022
Uncovering opportunities in sports, tech and media
"You're working with imperfect information, trying to piece things together. It feels like a puzzle: should we or should we not make an investment in this opportunity?" That's how Lance Dietz, partner of KB Partners, describes his job of identifying successes and investing across the sports, tech and media startup landscape. It's a turbulent time for the investment space, as well as the wider economy, which seemed the perfect time to catch up with Lance to discuss all aspects of the industry. Our discussion spans how best investors can provide value for their portfolio companies beyond cold, hard cash, the opportunities around Web 3.0, how to best engage with the Gen Z audience, and the pros and cons of operating a compact investment partnership. Lance joined KB Partners in 2018, as part of the investment team after spending time as an investment banker with JP Morgan. Prior to that, he was an officer and engineer in the US Army, stationed in Germany, Afghanistan and across the US.…
May 6, 2022
What early-stage VCs are looking for
As far as strategic investors goes, having a direct line into tech giants Microsoft and four-time Superbowl winners the Green Bay Packers is a pretty good starting point! In our latest issue of the Sports Loft podcast, Cordero Barkley, Partner at TitleTown Tech, shares his story from college athlete to early stage VC, and how as a firm TitleTown Tech are supporting the growth of their portfolio companies, including our very own Slate. Cordero also gives us a sneak peek to where their focus will lie for their second fund, including which aspects of NFTs and the metaverse look post appealing for investment. Our favourite quotes: “Leveraging the connectivity that we have in marketplace…, that's one of the perks of having the Packers and Microsoft, you can really get connected to anyone in the world and pick up the phone to call someone to say hey, we have a company that fits your thesis would love for you to take a look at it.” “The founders are taking all this risk, they’ve…
Feb 25, 2022
Bringing an outsider’s approach to the sports media industry
The sports media landscape is evolving rapidly, and navigating and understanding that evolution can at times be tricky. With the likes of TikTok driving a push to short form content, but Netflix demonstrating clear demand for binge-worthy episodic series, how should rightsholders be deploying their time and resource to deliver value to fans and partners? In this episode of the Sports Loft podcast, we are joined by ATP Media's Chief Strategy Officer Nick Bourne as he takes us through his journey as commercial lead at sports media disrupter Copa90 to his position at one of the biggest rightsholders in the industry. He shares his perspective on how the industry should be approaching its content strategy today. Throughout this journey, Nick has brought an outsider’s perspective to the industry, whether through driving a disruptive brand and new content formats at Copa90 or bringing different approaches to the tennis world.
Jan 14, 2022
Innovation in Fan Experience
The Atlanta Hawks’ State Farm arena has been ranked as the best NBA Game experience in both 2019 and 2020. With the focus on the game experience in the NBA and heightened consumer expectations, that’s no mean feat – especially when, in the first year they won they award, the team wasn’t doing well: “When the team’s winning, the beer is colder and the hotdogs are warmer.” So for teams, how can you deliver a better experience for the fans across all aspects of their experience – from before the game, at the venue and after the venue. How do you help them get the information that they need to ensure that they have the best experience? How do teams compete against other ways that people can spend their time? In this episode, Yanni spoke to Donny White, CEO at Satisfi Labs and David Garcia, Senior Vice President, Experience & Innovation at Atlanta Hawks. They discussed the approach that led the Hawks to be ranked as the #1 gameday experience in the NBA, what David has been…
Oct 15, 2021
Building B2B Brands
It used to be that all the most exciting marketing happened in the B2C space - those were the campaigns that won awards and got featured in industry press. The B2B marketeers were solid, reliable but not that interesting. Not any longer. A world of always-on consumers has forced B2B brands to totally re-think how they talk with their consumer. The B2B tech buyer is the same person who is buying the Vans trainers and subscribing to Netflix. They want personalisation, content relevant to their interests and businesses who share their values. B2B marketeers have had to up their game. For early stage companies, this is a challenge. How do you deliver the quality of marketing and content across multiple channels with limited resource and budget? How do you build a consistent message when the product is evolving so fast? But equally, in the early days of a startups’ journey, companies are focused on understanding their customer’s needs and building an initial product that they can sell…
Aug 27, 2021
Innovation in the sports broadcast
Sports fans have got so many channels that they might subscribe to – and in many cases they are driven by which channel has the rights to whatever they want to watch. However, the experience of watching a game is varying more and more between broadcasters as the channels seek to differentiate themselves – whether it’s through cameras, commentators, interactivity, graphics or studio presentation. Consequently, the need to innovate (and sometimes innovation for the sake of doing something different) becomes more important for content owners. How can the broadcasters get the fans to watch just a bit longer? How can they provide the fans with a differentiated experience that enables them to have their voice heard or to access more complementary content on their phone? How is interactivity changing the presentation of the broadcast? How do they have to compete (or compliment?) the teams, leagues and athletes who are becoming content producers in their own right? How is on-screen tale…
Jul 29, 2021
Building great products in sports and media
When we meet with the founder of a prospective Sports Loft company, we are very focused on product – what exactly is it that you’re building? Who has the problem that you are solving? Why is your product better than the alternatives out there? What have you done to make your product as simple to use as possible? How are people using your product? Are users returning? Will anybody buy it? This product focus is vital in the world of sports, media and entertainment. Why is the fan going to choose this product over all the other options they have? How can the product be applied to the workflows of a major event or the constant “always-on” of a league season? What can teams, leagues or sponsors achieve with this product that they couldn’t do before? In this podcast, we are joined by Slate’s co-founder and CEO, Michael Horton whose clients include teams across every major US league, the Premier League and major sponsors, and Tagboard’s President Nathan Peterson whose clients…
Jul 15, 2021
One of the things that we look for in the companies at Sports Loft is a management team that operates with a global mindset. We want to see companies who have products that can be successful in multiple geographies and sales teams that want to embrace the fact that whilst national differences exist, sport and media is a genuinely global business. However, growing a global operation is not easy. Should you build in your domestic market first and then think about selling internationally or should you go global from the start? Can you sell from your home base or do you need “boots on the ground?” How do you get to really understand the cultural differences between college basketball, international tennis and IPL? If you don’t expand globally quickly enough, will local copy-cats interfere with your global ambitions? What people do you need? Will the value in your product be perceived differently between Canal+, NBC and Foxtel? In the latest of the Sports Loft podcasts, we are joine…
Jul 2, 2021
Building a ticketing operation for the modern sports industry
The financial results of many sports organisations in the last 18 months have clearly shown why ticketing revenue is so important. Whilst pre-pandemic, many teams and events almost took their ticketing revenue for granted (we’ve got a waiting list for season tickets, we don’t need to worry), that complacency doesn’t exist anymore. Fans in attendance make the TV product better and amongst many of the teams and events that we talk to, there is a clear desire to deliver the best fan experience possible so that the fans keep coming back. So, for teams and events, how can you deliver those “Instagrammable” moments that the fans will remember? How do you get the fans’ attention in an environment where they have so many other ways to spend their money? How do you deliver a ticketing and event experience that is at least as good, and hopefully better, than anything they can get from Amazon, Netflix or Instacart? In the latest of the Sports loft podcasts we are joined by F1 Miami…
Jun 18, 2021
Building an athlete's personal brand
Athletes are at the heart of everything that happens in professional sport. The best players deliver the biggest moments which in turn drive the audiences, the media rights and the highlight views on YouTube. The fans want to know everything about their lives, what they do and what they think. Many players now have bigger followings than the teams they play for. Technology, and social media in particular, is enabling the athletes to by-pass the traditional media and engage directly with their fans. This provides a huge opportunity to get their point of view across and to define themselves beyond what happens on the pitch, but it also comes with risks. What they choose to share, and how they manage what they post, has become hugely important. In the latest of the Sports Loft podcasts, we are joined by KIN Partners MD and Founder, Simon Oliveira who manages a roster of talent including David Beckham and Neymar Jnr, and Greenfly’s co-founder and CEO Daniel Kirschner whose clients incl…
Jun 4, 2021
Finding product market fit
Achieving “product-market-fit” is one of those terms that you frequently hear in the startup-world. Sought-after by founders and eulogised by investors, it has become an almost idealistic concept of that moment when all that hard work comes to fruition and it just clicks – the product sells itself. But what does it actually mean? And when do you know if you’ve “found it”? In this episode, host Yanni Andreopolous is joined by Get Metrix Co-founder and CEO Andrew Hall and FEVO’s EVP & GM of Partner Development, Colin Casey. Andrew and Colin share their first-hand experiences at their respective companies - a B2C company that is about to release its first product and a B2B social commerce platform that is more mature - as they work towards product market fit. The discussion reflects on the importance of being able to react quickly, how to work out which customer insights to prioritise and whether a “Minimum Lovable Product” is more helpful than a “Minimum Viable Prod…
May 21, 2021
Hiring and building great teams
Hiring and finding great people is without doubt one of the biggest priorities for any high-growth tech CEO, and the companies at Sports Loft are no exception. Whether it’s working out whether to hire for talent & aptitude or for a defined role, how to profile potential employees who are ready for a start-up environment, how to build a great on-boarding process and where to look for the best people, getting hiring right is hard but important. In our latest podcast, we are joined by Satisfi Co-founder and CEO Donny White and Slate Co-founder and Chief Growth Officer Will Brooke. They share their first-hand experiences of hiring at a startup and what they have learnt about the best ways to build teams for their respective companies.
Apr 8, 2021
Sports Loft Member Series: an interview with Tagboard President Nathan Peterson
Tagboard's President Nathan Peterson joins Yanni Andreopoulos from Sports Loft to talk about Tagboard’s growth as social media has become critical to the production landscape. Tagboard now powers broadcasts across US news and sports and was used for NFL Media’s production of the NFL Draft, is used by teams in every major league in the US and they recently signed a 4 year deal with Major League Baseball. Nathan and Yanni explore the impact of COVID and how the sudden shift to remote production has helped Tagboard, the value of keeping the product as simple to use as possible and the importance of client feedback in the product development process. Our favourite bit - how Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey suggested that Apple Music’s Creative Director, Larry Jackson, should use Tagboard for the Apple Verzuz livestreams!
Feb 23, 2021
How is the value sports teams get from social media changing?
How is the value sports teams get from social media changing? What role does social media play for teams and how has this changed? We talk to Eric Stark, founder of Sports Loft member company Slate and Minnesota Timberwolves’ Director of Digital Content Shahbaz Khan about the increased importance of social media in sport and the demand for innovation and adaptability for digital content within sports teams, specifically the NBA. Shahbaz talked about the importance and purpose of social media and how it can add value to teams. He mentioned how “there’s never a time which we’re posting for posting sake.” Therefore, in terms of using social to drive value, he abides by several ‘pillars’ which include “ensuring that we are engaging current fans at the highest level possible, potentially gaining new fans and monetizing content in a way that continues to engage with fans.” All of which contribute to the importance placed upon social media. Shahbaz said “it’s the most f…
Feb 11, 2021
Personalisation in sport
Alexandra Wilis of Wimbledon and Nick Pinks of Covatic chatted about what personalisation means for sport. Alex talked about how Wimbledon wants to remain relevant for as many people as possible, whatever their engagement with the tournament and tennis. She discussed the importance of both the technical side to personalisation, efficiency and how it needs to match up to the emotional, delivered through giving sport meaning and relevance. She touched on how Wimbledon is “making it easy to follow players” so fans can feel ”more immersed in that players’ success or failure and tap into that celeb feeling.” This “helps players become more famous and create more personal connections with the sport”. Personalisation can extend to helping those fans find new players to follow all year round. Nick Pinks, CEO of Covatic, told us “you need to build a positive relationship between a user and the platform they’re using” to be allowed to personalise their experience. HE pointe…
Nov 25, 2020
How technology is changing sports broadcasting
Technology is changing sports broadcasting. We discuss how with two leaders who are shaping innovation in that area. World Rugby's Ronan Donagher, who has overseen the implementation of video refereeing and the growth of rugby broadcast to new nations. He is joined by Ben Reynolds, CEO of Spalk, a technology that powers remote commentary and production of sports events globally. They discuss how remote production has enabled rugby and other sports to reach new markets, how technology can help engage fans and reach new audiences. Ronan tells us what's next for World Rugby, looking ahead to the Olympics the women's world cup and the next men's, France 2023. Ben outlines his ambitions to be the technology powering broadcasts across global events.
Oct 12, 2020
Athletes as content creators
How are athletes becoming such great content creators? How are leagues and rights holders helping them to do this? We talk to social content tool Greenfly's CEO Daniel Kirschner and SailGP's CMO Tim Godfrey about how they're doing this. Our founder Charlie Greenwood outlines why he’s excited to work with Greenfly, part of the Sports Loft family. Daniel recalls how he founded the company with his cousin, ex-Mets player Shawn Green, to connect players, leagues and fans through content. We chat to SailGP’s Tim Godfrey about how he’s helped launch a new sport in 2019, that’s now broadcast to millions. The annual competition has attempted to “redefine sailing” and has attracted a younger audience on social media through “personality led” content. Giving athletes access to immediate content at their fingertips has ensured authenticity and enabled SailGP to work with their sponsors to create campaigns that are relevant to both parties and fans. Daniel highlights how producin…
Sep 30, 2020
Data & elite sports performance with Jesus Perez & Tal Brown of Zone7
Data plays an increasing role in elite sports performance management. We chatted to Jesus Perez, assistant manager to Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham Hotspur for five years, and Zone7’s Tal Brown about data informed decision making. Both set out that context is king. Someone needs to analyse the data. Coaches, like Perez and Pochettino, are the point at which data sets merge and decisions are needed. If done well, clubs can save money because their players are not picking up wages while injured, estimated at £35m a year in the Premier League. They discuss how managers have to be held accountable for players getting injured if the data said they needed a rest. Tal said: “when I'm asked by investors in Silicon Valley ‘why are you in sports, it's not a very big market? There are no sports teams in the Fortune 500.’ My answer is that if you want to create technology for human performance, you need data about it and going back 2, 3, 4 years, the only the only industry that had t…
1 hr 7 min
Sep 14, 2020
Sports Loft Member Series: an interview with PumpJack Dataworks CEO Nick Goggans
Our host Yanni Andreopoulos talks to the CEO of PumpJack Dataworks, Nick Goggans. They discuss the founding of the company, why data is valuable for sports teams and how they are helping the industry to glean more value from it. They chat through how measurement and marketing are merging and how sports teams could become subscription businesses, meaning that the value of the data they own could become a vital part of the balance sheet.
Aug 21, 2020
Sports Loft Member Series: an interview with Slate COO Eric Stark
Yanni Andreopoulos from Sports Loft chats to Slate's cofounder and COO Eric Starc for our member series. They discuss the company's founding, about Eric's experience at NFL and about the growing role social media plays in connecting sports teams with their fans. They debate how covid has increased social media's importance for teams, who found they had no other touchpoint with fans during lockdown. There's a look to the future and how social media can be monetised by teams, as long as they focus on authentic content.
Aug 5, 2020
Future of fan experience with Satisfi Labs & KNVB
Yanni Andreopoulos from Sports Loft chats to Sports Loft member Satisfi Labs' CEO Donny White and the KNVB's captain of knowledge development and innovation, Giel Kirkels, about the future of the fan experience. They talk about the impact of covid, how fans will experience sports as they resume and look ahead to the future. We also hear from our founder Charlie Greenwood about working with Satisfi Labs to enhance the fan experience.
Jul 24, 2020
What is Sports Loft?
What is Sports Loft? An interview with Sports Loft founder Charlie Greenwood. He explains the company's mission, purpose and how it helps the most exciting tech companies in sport, media and entertainment.
Jul 17, 2020
Sports Loft Member Series: an interview with Prophet co-founders Dean Sisun and Jake Benzaquen
Drew Barrand from Sports Loft and Prophet's co-founders Dean Sisun and Jake Benzaquen talk about what the secondary betting marketplace does, how the company has grown since inception and how they addressed the challenges of no sports during covid.
Jul 17, 2020
Sports Loft Member Series: an interview with Formalytics CEO Andrew Hall
Drew Barrand from Sports Loft and Andrew Hall, CEO of Formalytics talk about how the company came to solving the problem of knowing whether you are getting better at football or not. Using AI, a phone and their app, you can do that. They chatted about how the company is funded and the challenges of gaining new funding in a covid hit economy.
Jul 17, 2020
Sports Loft Member Series: an interview with Spalk CEO Ben Reynolds
Drew Barrand from Sports Loft talks to Ben Reynolds, CEO and co-founder of Spalk. They chat about how the company was formed by friends on a sofa watching sport, what the company does to support broadcasting and commentary and about how covid accelerated growth.
Jul 15, 2020
Sports Loft Member Series: an interview with Zone7 CEO Tal Brown
Nicolas Miranda from Sports Loft and Catapult Sports talks to Tal Brown from Zone7. They discuss how Zone7's algorithms help their clients, such as La Liga's Getafe, protect their athletes from injury. They talk through the challenges for elite sports teams in returning to action following the covid shutdown.
Jul 15, 2020
Sports Loft Member Series: an interview with Satisfi CEO Donny White
Yanni Andreopolous from Sports Loft chats to Satisfi Labs CEO and President Donny White. They discuss what thew company does, how it was founded and how they use AI to fuel search in sports venues. They also discuss the impact of covid on a business based around live events and how Satisfi responded to this.
Jul 14, 2020
Sports Loft Member Series: an interview with Covatic CEO Nick Pinks
Drew Barrand from Sports Loft chatted to Nick Pinks of Covatic about how the company was formed, how covid has changed peoples' media consumption habits and how their product can help broadcasters create personalised content. They also discuss how covid challenged their business.
Jul 14, 2020
Sports Loft Member Series: an interview with Greenfly CEO Daniel Kirschner
Michael Broughton from Sports Loft talks to Daniel Kirschner from Greenfly about how many of the world's leading sports teams are using the service to engage fans and athletes. They discuss the impact of covid on the business, when live sport stopped, content creation saw a huge spike. Finally, they chat about how the company was formed.
Jul 9, 2020
Sports Loft Member Series: an interview with Fevo CEO Ari Daie
Yanni Andreopolous from Sports Loft chats to Fevo's co-founder Ari Daie about how the startup came about, what it does and how he strives for future success. They also discuss the impact covid has had on the company.