Rowland Sport Webinar: Sports Tech – Launch into new markets and growth opportunities

As Australia’s sports tech industry continues to expand and businesses look to scale, the United States (US) provides not only expansion opportunities, but a potential blueprint for the industry.

Being such a dynamic ecosystem that brings together sports, technology, entertainment, data analytics, and wellbeing, there is real value to be gained by looking beyond our borders and to enhance the overall experience for the community, athletes, teams, and fans alike.

In our Rowland Sport webinar, we spoke to US-based industry professionals who shared their knowledge and experiences in the sports tech world. The discussion explored unique insights into the trends, challenges, and advancements that are shaping the sports tech landscape in the US, expansion opportunities into overseas markets and best practice when seeking and securing investment and funding.

  • Nate Thompson – Managing Partner, HTZ Sports Tech
  • Thomas Alomes – Senior Vice President and Head of Market Insights, STWS

Watch or listen to the full webinar here:

Key insights and takeaways:

What are some trends in the US in the sports tech industry?

  • Elevating Fan Experiences: Digital Meets Physical
    The fusion of broadcasting and in-stadium excitement is becoming a game-changer. Incorporating the best of both worlds, sports tech is revolutionising fan experiences. Progress towards enabling fans to enjoy live analytics and match commentary through a second screen app experience while they’re at the stadium.
  • Sustainable Operations: Where ESG Meets Sports
    Stadiums leveraging cities that want to be considered Smart Cities by embracing smart energy solutions, minimising water consumption, improving accessibility, and even supporting athlete recovery with sustainable options. These eco-conscious practices are setting new standards in the industry.
  • Versatile Stadiums for Year-Round Revenue
    Multi-use stadiums are a trend to watch. Designed for various sports and events, these state-of-the-art venues are boosting year-round revenue, reducing costs, broadening the stadiums’ target audience, and offering diverse experiences.

Advice for navigating the US export market:

  • Think regionally and connect strategically
    Rather than trying to conquer the entire country, focus on building a strong regional network. Time your business trips to coincide with key events and connect with the right people for your respective application or product. Consider trade missions, attend events such as SXSW, March Spring break and All Star games.
    If you get a firm rejection, don’t spin your wheels and use all your time and money – find somewhere else regionally where you will get traction.
  • Cultivate meaningful relationships
    Identify your product’s niche, pinpoint the ‘first-movers’ for the league, and establish contacts. Whether through conferences, events, emails, or LinkedIn, make your pitch at the right time. Develop relationships with organisations, universities, and governing bodies before getting there.
  • Relocation opportunities to the US
    If relocation to the US is on your radar, pick an affordable and liveable location with business-friendly factors such as, proximity to key stakeholders, state income tax, and access to international airports. Explore cities that cater to different business sectors once established.
  • Increase the value
    Consider how your product can have an enterprise-wide solution to satisfy 3 key groups. That is, an athlete focus (wearables), fan focus (content), executive focus (revenue). Succinctly outline what you’re building, why you’re building it and how it can be valuable for them.
  • Align with budget cycles
    If you’re looking to engage sporting organisations, they likely won’t be looking during their playing season. Identify who the appropriate person is and engage them during the off-season when they may be willing to pilot new opportunities.

What are the current challenges in the sports tech arena?

  • Effectively navigating the workplace culture
    Big sports are often run like a family business where ownership sign off on everything. As a result, decision processes can be elongated. Be competitive by differentiating your application or product to appeal to organisations and investors. Be realistic when managing expectations for budget and the scale of operations in the market. Consider friction points for your product, for example if you’re targeting College sports, you may need to comply with their IT policies.
  • Investment Opportunities
    Explore partnerships with venture capital firms, athlete investors, and entities who have recently raised funds and research those that are seeking investment prospects.
  • Budget constraints
    It is possible that a sporting organisation doesn’t have budget to adopt new sports tech. Consider bringing with your product a solution to pay for it such as adding a sponsorship element to it. For example, for a stadium in-seat ordering system, partner with a sponsorship from Uber Eats.

Expectations for the next decade in sports tech:

  • The fusions of the physical and digital experience of sport
    Innovation towards the immersive VR experiences that bridge the gap between streaming and in-stadium fan engagement. Second-screen apps will bring detailed analytics to fans, enhancing the spectating and streaming experience.
  • Contactless Stadiums and AI Personalisation
    Expect contactless convenience in stadiums, enabling fans to fully immerse themselves in the game. AI will provide fans with a personalised stadium experience according to individual customer preferences. Taking the best of the home experience into the stadium and taking the best of the stadium experience into the home.
  • Software for Enhanced Operations
    Look forward to game-changing software that transforms recruitment, recovery, and fan engagement, driving operational excellence and boosting revenue.