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The 6 Biggest Mistakes Sports Tech Startups Make That Prevent Them from Moving Fast

2 Min Read.

After observing over 3,000 startups and investing in many, I’ve learned much about what works and what doesn’t in the sports tech industry. It’s no longer enough to have a great solution and a stellar team. Understanding the industry’s unique needs and avoiding common pitfalls is crucial. Here are the six biggest mistakes that prevent startups from moving fast.

1. Ignoring the Immediate Needs

Sports properties focus on solving current problems. I once pitched a top-tier startup to a friend in a sports property, but it didn’t fit their immediate needs, so it didn’t go anywhere. Understand what brands need right now and tailor your solutions to those needs.

2. Underestimating Risk Aversion

Sports brands avoid risk at all costs, and startups are risky. Make your offering as risk-free as possible. Ensure pilot programs don’t expose the brand to any risk. Leaders worry about their reputation with the board and fans, so eliminate those concerns first.

3. Missing the Revenue and Cost Angle

Sports properties are constantly looking to make or save money. Highlight how your solution can dramatically cut costs or boost their revenue. This financial impact is often the key to getting your foot in the door.

4. Mismanaging Internal Politics

Politics can stall progress. Presenting to more than four people often leads to conflicts and delays. Find a champion within the organisation who can advocate for you and drive the process forward.

5. Offering Free Pilots

Charge a small fee for the pilot. Even a modest fee like $5,000 shows commitment and readiness. Free pilots often lead to a lack of follow-through because the brand isn’t invested.

6. Overpromising

Be humble. Don’t promise to overhaul an entire digital platform at once. Start with one significant improvement, build trust, and expand from there. This step-by-step approach ensures sustainable growth.

By avoiding these mistakes, sports tech startups can move faster and achieve more. Focus on immediate needs, minimize risks, emphasize financial benefits, navigate internal politics wisely, secure commitment through paid pilots, and take a humble approach. These strategies will set you up for success.

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1 Comment
  • Alana Kalin

    May 30, 2024

    Sage advice- thank you Amir!