My Biggest Mistake – What I’ve NOW Learned from LISTENING to 50+ Sports Executive Leaders.
6 Min Read
My goal was to ask sport brand executives one question – “what is your brands’ current biggest pain and need?
And then I shut up and listened.
My BIGGEST Mistake:
In the early days at HYPE, I made my share of mistakes, but one was more painful than the others.
When startups approached me in order to introduce them to top sports executives or Investors, I was more than willing to help, so I contacted some of my closest colleagues working for big brands and investment firms and offered them the opportunity of meeting the startups.
I quickly came to the realization that not many of them were keen to offer the same commitment to the startups. Instead, they preferred to stay away from such opportunities, to avoid putting their reputation within the organization on the line.
Three years ago, I had a eureka moment where I concluded that such an initiative can only be pulled off the other way round – by first, understanding the sensitive needs and pains of the brands and then accordingly serving those brands with the right, applicable solutions offered by the startups.
In this fashion, the brands can actively explore activations that fit their needs, and get the right decision-makers of the organization involved deeply to personally serve their demands.
Learning the lesson the hard way, at HYPE Sports Innovation, we had to remodel our business operations in order to scale up the value we provide to our startups on an ongoing basis.
Bottom line – to help our startups grow, we needed to first focus on the Brands, or more specifically the Brands needs.
So, what are the Sports Properties REAL pain points and needs?
Based on extensive research and one-on-one interviews listening to 50 of the most legendary sports experts in the field.
My team and I have come up with 8 of the most common challenges that TOP sports brands are currently struggling with, and a list of innovative solutions that solve them.
The Executives we approached include Brands from UEFA, The Premier League, La Liga, Boundesliga, NBA, NFL, Euroleague, Top Media companies, Top Sportswear companies and many more..
What challenge can you relate to the most? Let me know in the comments below.
1. GenZ-focused solutions – the disinterest of the new generation:
Executive: “Approaching the GenZ audience is an art, connecting our brand with this young generation is an essential part of our future”.
The GenZ generation is waiting for new ways of watching the games, more participation in the decisions of the teams they like, or exclusive benefits in exchange for both economic and time investments.
They want an unparalleled experience that makes them feel important and part of a community, a sports elite that only they can access.
Examples of startups that solve this challenge: Mobii, FansXR, Bleachr, MyFavorito, FANFEST Live.
2. Creating Augmented Reality and Remote Experiences:
Executive: “As sports pioneers, we are looking for opportunities to create immersive experiences in the present”.
Being a remote fan through augmented reality means having almost direct access to any sport event and feeling as an essential part of the full experience.
An AR-powered mobile app can bring sports equipment or a favorite football player to life. VR can also help organize virtual stadium and locker room tours.
Examples of startups that solve this challenge: Condense Reality, Splink, DriveCast, FootAR.
3. More Interactive and Interconnected Stadium solutions:
Executive: “We need to make our venues more accessible and innovative.”
More innovative stadiums ultimately translate into increased interactions and interconnections between fans and arenas.
This means that fans will be able to order snacks and drinks without leaving their seats, to watch replays and to always be up-to-date with all the stats, simply from an app on their smartphone.
Not to mention, coming up with in-game experiences are just as important.
Examples of startups that solve this challenge: LuvSeats LLC, Full Venue.
4. Expanding The Use Of Wearables:
Executive: “What would you say are the best ways to improve our athletes’ performance using wearables?”
Wearable technologies are becoming increasingly popular among athletic teams, influencing coaching decisions, the way sports are played, player health and safety and the overall performance of players.
These devices can be integrated into athletic attire, attached to a player’s body or directly inserted into sports equipment.
Examples of startups that solve this challenge: Mindfly, Neuractive, Healables, Awarewear.
5. Metaverse and NFT solutions – Trending and boom in demand:
Executive: “The Metaverse is coming, we are currently searching for the best strategy to develop in this field”.
The new generations hope that their fanaticism will be recognized and that they will be given a special place within the community.
Because of this, many teams have created tokens and collectible NFTs to make some of their fans enter an even more exclusive club and become part of a new generation who are no longer consumers but prosumers of the products.
Examples of startups that solve this challenge: NFT Labs, BigWave.
6. Monetization – Developing new revenue streams:
Executive: “We are constantly exploring new ways to increase our brands revenue, but in order to implement a technology we would need to see results”.
The increased salaries of professional athletes affected the business of sport. To fund continued increases, team owners are looking for new revenue streams or ways to enhance existing revenue streams.
Technological advances, such as the virtual signage and satellite television opportunities examined earlier, have already provided significant new revenues to leagues and teams.
Examples of startups that solve this challenge: Stargraph, FanSaves, MyFavorito
7. Digital Sponsorship opportunities :
Executive: ”We are searching for the best way to optimize and monetize our sponsorship opportunities”.
Brands like to act as modern sponsors, seeking direct means for reaching out to and connecting with their audiences.
They seek solutions that are cost effective, high-targeted and capable of producing measurable outcomes, providing a solid base for exposure, conveying their message and growing their client base.
Examples of startups that solve this challenge: CatapultX, TroposAR, DriveCast
8. High-tech training/ Performance Solutions:
Executive: ”How do we use today’s innovative technologies in order to maximize our athlete performance and gain an edge over our competitors?”
Brands are looking for the development of personalized algorithms that can give more exact measurements concerning the athlete’s needs and can store this data and analyze it to analyze progress and predict the risk of injury or adaptability to new training regimens, among others.
Examples of startups that solve this challenge: Neuractive, ForSports, Glassup
These were 8 of the most popular challenges we received from the Executives of the top sports brands in the field.
Finding concrete solutions to these challenges is one of the main focuses of our team at HYPE S.I.
If you are a brand interested in curing some of your major pain points and innovating forward during the Web 3.0 revolution, reach out to us at Mariana A. Solorzano.
Research: Daniel Rabinowitz , Ashish Thakur
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