I’m watching Monday night football. There’s that familiar little yellow line on the field, indicating where the first down marker stands. It’s become such a staple that those who enjoy this Sunday ritual might not even think about its origins. But here’s a fascinating tidbit: the technology responsible for that little yellow line was developed by a startup in the late ’90s called SportVision, and was an early application of augmented reality.
In addition to the 1st and 10 line, they gave us “K-Zone,” a pitch-tracking system that brought a new dimension to baseball, and “SwingVision,” which transformed the way we analyze tennis matches. These innovations weren’t just game-changers; they were the revolutionaries of sports broadcasting.
As mentioned last week, sports is a big business. The U.S. market is a colossal $83 billion industry. But here’s the kicker: the sports tech market is already at $20B and predicted to skyrocket to an astonishing $55.14 billion by 2030.
Entrepreneurs have capitalized on “sport-tech-tangent” industries. Think of the betting giants Fanduel and DraftKings which are worth $20B and $14B respectively. And more recently a fantasy sports app, Sleeper, has amassed more than $60M in investment. Its first major check came from the Pittsburgh based VC fund Birchmere ventures, while the last two rounds have been led by a16z.
But, obviously, sports is much more than fantasy-social apps and betting. It’s about unleashing the hidden potential of the sports world. From creating better protective gear to building smarter stadiums and crafting cutting-edge training methods, the field is wide open. Every team across every professional league and major college is on the hunt for that winning edge, and smart entrepreneurs are stepping up.
Picture this: players no longer sifting through game tapes but instead immersing themselves in AI-driven simulations, meticulously crafted from a catalog of every play their opponent ran from grade school to current day. This innovation promises to provide athletes with hyper-realistic training experiences, opening up a world of astonishing possibilities.
In the realm of sports technology, the emergence of futuristic training facilities, intelligent stadiums, and AI-driven opponents seems almost inevitable. And one city stands out as a frontrunner in championing these innovations: Indianapolis.
In 2019, TechStars launched a new sports tech accelerator which has close partnerships with some of the major local organizations including the Indianapolis Colts and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The state continued to build off of this success with the recent launch of Sports Tech HQ in 2022 which makes additional early stage investments in the space.
The state has also begun to host an annual conference called the One-Zero Summit, held in August which attracts over a thousand attendees, several key players from major sports leagues and athletic brands such as Nike. This summit also serves a dual purpose – as a Demo Day for the recent TechStars grads.
Indiana University has also served as a key pillar in this ecosystem. Back in 2015, the famous alumni Mark Cuban’s investment helped IU establish the Mark Cuban Center for Sports Media and Technology. Earlier this year, two of the university’s core organizations IU Ventures and IU Athletics will start to make more investments if they will help “IU Athletics win more games and championships; generate additional revenue streams; and augment the student-athlete and fan experience”. Sound familiar? Any sports organization is willing to pay for more wins. It’s simple. More wins = more visibility = more money.
So, what’s the bottom line? Tech can take over the sports scene, and Indianapolis isn’t just a spectator. They’re in the game, making plays, and gearing up to lead the future of this multi-billion-dollar industry.
Inside this issue
- The History of SportVision
- Sports Tech Startups Are Gathering In Indianapolis
- Investing in Sleeper
Sportvision is an Emmy-winning company that pioneered the use of navigation technologies to enhance the viewing experience of sports, initially on television and now through several electronic media. With the increasing ability of fans to watch broadcasts — or use more specialized interactive products — wherever they are, Sportvision has arguably transformed even the experience of… Read More
Daniel Benchimol thought it was worth a shot. He had nothing to lose. Shortly after founding the Highlights App in 2021, Benchimol applied to Techstars Boulder, an acclaimed accelerator program that has backed more than 200 startup companies since 2007. Never mind that at that point, Benchimol only knew that he wanted the Highlights App to be a place where sports fans… Read More
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