As the sports, technology and startup landscapes continue to change, one professional franchise has seized opportunity potential. The Los Angeles Dodgers and R/GA announced their second sports accelerator program, on the heels of a highly successful debut in 2015. The LA Dodgers Sports and Entertainment Accelerator, the first of its kind in the sports industry, aims to revolutionize how fans, athletes and sports organizations intersect with technology.
The upcoming program affords deep access to industry partnerships and expertise — and is designed to give selected sports startups a pathway to becoming leaders in the space. Last year, 10 chosen startups covered the gamut in the category, with technology powering fantasy sports, recruiting, point-of-sale, league organization and athletic performance, including an app that allowed users to work out with professional athletes.
"The overwhelming success of the Dodgers' first sports and entertainment accelerator opened our eyes to the profound impact that today's rising technology companies can have on sports," said Dodgers' president and CEO Stan Kasten. "We're committed to bringing the best new experiences to our fans, and the best new technologies to our team. We also are excited to use the Dodger brand and our organizational reach to help these young companies grow.”
Though all were optimistic about last year’s edition, there were some pleasant surprises at its conclusion.
“During the first program we were really impressed by the level of participation across our respective networks,” noted Stephen Plumlee, R/GA EVP, global chief operating officer. “This ultimately led to successful pilot programs, client partnership, and investment opportunities beyond what we initially anticipated for the program.”
Additionally, with an expectation for continued growth, the inaugural year of the program taught both the Dodgers and R/GA some valuable lessons in how to approach the 2016 installment.
“For the second class, we’re excited to build on the learnings from the first class and help another wave of companies develop and scale their businesses,” said Tucker Kain, the Dodgers’ chief financial officer. “Our first cohort made influential connections within the Dodgers and R/GA networks, and we are eager to bring the same opportunities to bear on another group of scompanies to help them solve for specific needs and gain market traction.”
Program areas of interest for the second edition of the program include (but are not limited to) integrated solutions in the areas of fan engagement, VR/AR, eSports, sports training, smart arenas, big data and analytics, fitness, youth sports and sponsor integration. The program will again be operated and supported by R/GA, which will bring to the program its full set of services along with its network of global brand partners.
Applications will be accepted now through 10 June, 2016. Growth-stage and early-stage startups from Los Angeles and around the world are invited to apply. The program will take place in Los Angeles and will start on 22 August, 2016, concluding in early November with invite-only demo events in both Los Angeles and New York, at which each startup will have the opportunity to present to investors, industry leaders, and the sports, technology, and entertainment communities.