The main reason why sport startups fail - and how to prevent yours from flopping

29th May 2020

‘What if…?’ is probably one of the most important questions asked throughout human history. It sparked evolutions, revolutions and innovations that pushed us further than we could have imagined… and it still drives us forward today.

It leads us to pushing the barriers of our physical capabilities, resulting in amazing (sports) performances.

For example, do you remember when the two-hour marathon barrier was broken by Eliud Kipchoge with the help of Nike last year? Or sir Roger Bannister, who in 1954 broke the ‘four-minute barrier’ on the mile, when the whole athletics world was convinced - for years - it couldn’t be done. (Everybody actually thought the human heart would implode if somebody ran that fast.)

‘What if’ is also the one question that encourages entrepreneurs and scientists to take their ideas, start developing new technologies, products and services, and launching them into the market.

But unfortunately, that doesn’t always end well. Lots of entrepreneurs launch their tool or product, only to receive… crickets.

When start-ups fail, the main 5 reasons are: Pricing/cost issues, Getting outcompeted, Missing the right team, Running out of cash, Having no market need.

Out of those five, two reasons stand out.

And why do they stand out? Well… because they concern issues that need to be addressed before even launching the product into the market.

Those two issues are: either the problem-solution fit is lacking, or there’s no product-market fit.

An important step in overcoming these issues is researching your ‘problem space’, as it’s called in the Innovatrix innovation model.

Or simply put, find out: “Do we actually have a problem worth solving”, because if you don’t, you won’t sell.

Researching your problem space consists of three things: your customer segments, the problem itself that you’re trying to solve, and your actual value proposition.

Make these three crystal clear and validated, and you will be well on your way to launch a successful startup or business.

Don’t know where to start? These are a few examples of questions that will make clear if your solution has a problem worth solving:

So when you find yourself dreaming of dropping your idea into the market, make sure you have researched your problem space thoroughly. It will save you from a one way ticket to the 'innovation graveyard' and help you succeed where others failed!

Are you struggling with your idea or still guessing if your solution has an actual problem worth solving?

We provide early-stage sports tech startups with an acceleration program based on the Innovatrix framework. If you have a sports tech idea or are an aspiring sports tech startup with a link to the Belgian market, we can assist you in your startup dream. For more information, contact SportUp program manager Kristof De Mey.