SportUp Meet 2022: Lessons learned (so far)?
22nd Jun 2022
Loving the live events on sunny days! SportUp Meet went great last week! One of the most interactive meetups organized so far. With the small gathering of people, everybody felt confident to talk to each other, which has lowered the threshold to ask questions and share experiences. Get the vibe of the night by looking at these great pictures (scroll down for the pictures).
What was the program of SportUp Meet 2022 about?
As usual at our SportUp Meet events the startups who followed the SportUp Boost program got the chance to pitch their venture for a passionate SportsTech crowd. This year two creative startups entered SportUp Boost: Improov and SCOREpion. More information about what they do you can be found in one of our previous blogs 'Get to know the SportsTech startups of SportUp Boost 2022!'.
Not only the startups from our Boost edition, but also from our SportUp Start track guided bij imec.istart pitched about their business. Scarab Sports talked about measuring and boosting the technical and cognitive skills of football players with their advanced rebound boards. Normally MyGamePlan was going to pitch about their platform on how to get the essence out of football data but unfortunately due to illness Berten Knaepen could't make it.
To end the pitching part, Kristof De Mey, the SportUp program manager, shared with us his great key (professional) experiences/insights from his 2 week trip to the US. There, among other things, he attended the ISEA (International Sports Engineering Association) Conference. On the topic of the sports tech market, various points were made clear or confirmed:
- Injury prevention solutions are often hard to sell and it appears that these type of features are sometimes better included in performance focused technologies or digital health (pathology based) products (realizing this comes with totally different go-to-market strategies, business models, etc.).
- Startups need to thoroughly think about their positioning, as hanging there in the middle between ‘performance’ and ‘healthcare’ comes with some challenges or could even ‘kill them’ because of a lack of resources.
- There is a culture within many professional sports franchises to get health or performance solutions from startups(or even scale-ups) for free in return for user feedback and exposure, which (although this might be helpful in some early-stage cases) is not really helping the ecosystem moving forward, as young companies in this space are pushed to pivot to other fields.
Read about all Kristof's lessons learned in detail in this article.
After this, we went on for a few hours of networking with delicious snacks and drinks. A great opportunity to talk to people with an interest in sports science, technology and entrepreneurship.
What did we focus on?
Even though most startups have the soccer industry as their main target audience, this was not our focus during the evening! Instead, we focussed on the lessons learned as an entrepreneur, independent of the nature of the startup. We heard very genuine stories about tough challenges, the associated feelings and the difficult decisions that had to be made during the growth of a startup. Eqipa talked about why they don't want to proceed with their startup themselves. What made them make this decision? Read the key learnings below!
The startups have bursted the bubble of the good news show that so many of them hear about from other entrepreneurs. It was a refreshing way of looking at the progress of a startup! It has prompted conversations that you would otherwise be less likely to engage in!
Some key learnings which we're happy to share
- Listen to your clients! Ask questions and let them talk, then you will benefit from their valuable feedback. (Improov)
- It's very difficult to combine working in an early-stage startup indea with a full time job and children (SCOREpion)
- Plans change! Plans for development, sales plans, your business model changes... It's crucial to adapt. (Scarab Sports)
- Reach out for help to the Flemish support network (VLAIO, Flanders Investment & Trade...). (Eqipa)
- Is your founder-market fit still okay? Do you like the market you're working in? (Eqipa)
For startups: imec.istart?
The next step for the startups of SportUp Boost can be SportUp Start. It can be the next step in the growth of their venture. This accelerator program is guided by imec.istart. They prep you and your product for the market, your growth and future investors. Imec.istart also offers tech startups pre-seed funding and tailored support to succeed and grow globally. It's a program consisting of 12 to 18 months (the latter for medtech related startups) with advanced workshops, weekly coaching and mentoring and lots of networking opportunities.
Interested? Apply for the next open call!
For YOU: STRN Summit?
The Sports Tech Research & Innovation Summit will bring together an exclusive group of open-minded academics, science-driven startup & industry professionals, and experienced field practitioners.
This 2-day event (Sept 14-15) will try to fill in some gaps in the global ecosystem, regarding translational aspects in sports science and technology for health and performance related purposes. We’re excited that this event will be held in-person in Ghent, Belgium. Get registered here!
Stay updated about our next events by following this page!
Do you have any questions about SportUp? Contact Kristof De Mey!