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Inside Track

SportsTech Monthly Roundup: Exciting Partnership, Global Travels

SportsTech went international in June. From VivaTech in Paris to Collision in Toronto, we’re on the hunt for the best and brightest for our 2024 class.

Our teammates and alumni presented at both conferences and we met a staggering number of companies at both events – perhaps some that just might be part of our new class! We’ll also share some of the insights and tips from our Collision Startup Masterclass on Inside Track soon.

Let’s dive into these stories and more, including an exciting announcement about our newest partnership with the Premier League! 

⚽️ Kicking Off an Amazing Partnership ⚽️

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If you’re a soccer fan like us, you know that it doesn’t get bigger than the Premier League. On weekends from August to May, we’re glued to the television to watch show-stopping goals and heart-pounding drama unfold on the pitch as 20 teams representing top-flight soccer vie for a championship and fight off relegation.

Co-founder of Boomtown Accelerators and Investment Director, Jose Vieitez, broke the news that we had joined forces in a partnership with the Premier League from his keynote on stage at Collision 2023 in Toronto. So far, the news has been picked up by ForbesSports Business JournalSportsPro Media, and more.

The partnership will boost our strategic collaboration with the Premier League as they assist in selecting and becoming advisors to our next class of startups. In addition, we will tap into Premier Leagues’ vast network of global influence and expertise, which will be hugely beneficial for international startups seeking to gain traction in the U.S. market.

Peacock and NBC Sports will serve as the exclusive U.S. media home of the Premier League Summer Series — the first ever Premier League-hosted pre-season tournament in the United States — featuring nine live matches across nine days beginning Sat., July 22. All match and studio coverage of the Premier League Summer Series will stream live on Peacock in the U.S. You can visit www.premierleague.com/summerseries to find out more and for ticket details.

Read the full announcement here.

🌎 SportsTech Travels the Globe 🌎

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This month was busy for us as we had teams traveling around the globe to spread the word about our recently-opened application process for our 2024 class of startups.

First, we visited Paris to connect with founders and startups at Viva Technology.

Jose Vieitez, co-founder of Boomtown Accelerators and Investment Director, broke the news to the sporting world about our exciting new partnership with the Premier League.

Vieitez also joined our alumnus, Brennon D’Souza of DIBZ, for a masterclass on applying to accelerators.

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Here are two key takeaways from the masterclass that could help you in your application process to join the next SportsTech Program:

  • Research, research, research: Different accelerators offer different things. They are not created equal. Understand what you need as a company and see where the accelerator aligns with those needs. Remember that the best accelerator for you is likely the one that can help find solutions for your biggest needs.
  • Do your diligence: Before applying to an accelerator program, research and speak with alumni and mentors to understand what is offered, where the startups are going, and overall sentiment.
  • Sports technology is huge and getting bigger! So many innovative companies are bringing their technologies into the sports ecosystem, perhaps because they see the growing opportunities to reach people on a global scale.

Stay tuned as we will share more tips and FAQs to assist you in applying for our upcoming program on Inside Track.

🤝 Partner Stories 🤝

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Chicago Hosts Historic NASCAR Street Race 

NASCAR’s investment in Chicago for the historic street race was significant. Years of planning paved the way for the weekend-long event and a pristine, 12-turn, 2.2-mile course through Grant Park sandwiched between the lakefront and downtown skyscrapers.

The race was a thrilling affair. Once it started after a rain deluge, the crowds were treated to intense street racing with the beautiful backdrop of the Chicago Skyline. They even witnessed something many Chicagoans deal with on a daily basis – a traffic jam. Right after making the turn from Michigan Avenue to Jackson Drive into turn 11, a William Byron spin-out caused a massive backup that saw more than a dozen cars temporarily blocked in one of the wildest spectacles in recent racing history.

The race was equally exciting and helped shine a light on the ongoing innovation shaping NASCAR. Shane van Gisbergen, a three-time Supercars champ, captured the checkered flag in his debut NASCAR race. The 34-year-old New Zealand native is now the first driver to win his Cup Series debut since Johnny Rutherford did it in his second race back at Daytona in 1963. He is now the sixth driver born outside the United States to win a NASCAR Cup Series race, joining Marcos Ambrose, Mario Andretti, Juan Pablo Montoya, Earl Ross, and Daniel Suárez.

Even more astonishing, Shane was called up by Trackhouse Racing to compete in the team’s Project 91 – an intriguing and innovative open entrant into Cup competition that was conceived as a way to attract the world’s best drivers. Many racing formats exist across the globe, and Trackhouse wants to use Project 91 as a way to shine a light on those talented drivers.

Shane posted 80 victories in 499 Supercars Championship races, and Trackhouse tapped him at the last minute to tackle the streets of Chicago. He was given an orientation test on June 26 using a variation of the Charlotte Motor Speedway and practiced pit stops in Concord, North Carolina, shortly after.

“A lot of what we’re trying to do at Trackhouse is new and different and exciting for the sport. We’re trying to inject something into the sport that it hasn’t seen before, that the fans haven’t seen before. So I think it’s really important because it comes out of that creativity that we all share and the passion that we have in trying to put something out on the racetrack that’s really unique and compelling,” explained Justin Marks, Trackhouse racing team owner.

The race was a huge success as viewers devoured the action – the first-ever street race in Chicago averaged 4.63 million viewers on NBC, the most-watched NASCAR race in six years and the second most–watched race this year behind the Daytona 500.

Here are a few key insights about the significance of the Chicago race: 

  • For years, NASCAR has traditionally relied on a rotating stock of permanent racetracks and garage facilities, but the Chicago race signifies a shift in strategy NASCAR employed at the Busch Light Clash at L.A. Memorial Coliseum. According to NASCAR’s SVP of racing development and strategy, Ben Kennedy: “This is part of our long-term strategic plan. About three years ago, around the time we had the acquisition of International Speedway Corporation (ISC), we started to think about, ‘Hey, how do we take the sport and transcend it to the next level?’”
  • Logistically, the Chicago Race was a new set of challenges for the crew. While the Clash at the Coliseum took six weeks of dirt-hauling and building, most of the infrastructure was already there. In Chicago, every component was temporary and had to be designed and built from scratch.
  • No expense was spared for every element of the race course, including facilities to bring fans closer to the action, with hospitality areas, merchandise stands, and a paddock club (the first in NASCAR’s storied history) hovering directly over Pit Road. Every category of fan was considered, from general admission tickets to all-access.
  • Tech was a huge factor in testing the viability of the street course – as early as July 2021, the Grant Park course was modeled and tested with iRacing and was crucial to help visualize the success potential of the race.
  • The race is in the heart of NASCAR’s third-largest market, and a deal with the city of Chicago keeps the race revving through 2025.

Bubba’s Block Party Success

Bubba Wallace, his team 23XI Racing, and NASCAR hosted the third Bubba’s Block Party, kicking off the first-ever Chicago Street Race weekend. Black-owned businesses and restaurants set up shop, barbers gave out free haircuts, and Chicago rapper Lupe Fiasco closed the festivities with a concert. “I think being in demographics like Chicago is massive,” Wallace told reporters before Wednesday’s event. “Going back to 2020, we’re showing that we’re not messing around — and we want to change for the better to allow all ages, races, and disabilities to be a part of our sport with no boundaries, no hindrance there.” [ Read More ]

👏 Startup Stories 👏

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Robbie Williams Invests in Tickets For Good 

Robbie Williams has become the largest investor in Tickets For Good, a platform providing free and discounted tickets for UK live events to NHS and charity sector workers. In addition to Williams, Tickets For Good investors include Bethnal Green Ventures and Comcast NBCUniversal SportsTech. “Supporting access to the arts is a cause close to my heart,” says Robbie Williams. “The magic of live entertainment is something everyone should be able to benefit from, so I’m thrilled to be working with Tickets For Good.” [ Read More ]

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Earlier in the newsletter, we mentioned how FanSaves helped create a resource guide for the race in Chicago. We could’ve easily devoted this newsletter to all the great work the FanSaves team accomplished in June. We love the passion and fire the team brings during their six-month stint with us in the SportsTech program!

Here are a few highlights: 

  • Through a series of happy coincidences, the FanSaves crew DROVE on the NASCAR Chicago Street Racecourse. Read more and check out their amazing photos here.
  • Co-founder and CEO Shannon Ferguson wrote about balancing mental well-being when building a new business. Check out the article here.
  • Presenting and meeting with executives for the American Hockey League summer meetings in Tucson, Arizona.

📚 Why We Love Sports Stories 📚

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Sportsbook Premiers at Historic Wrigley Field 

With 109 years of history, Wrigley Field is one of the most awe-inspiring baseball stadiums in the country. Now, it’s ushering in a new era of sports with the opening of the DraftKings Sportsbook. As sports wagering has gone mainstream, the next evolution is high-concept facilities attached to stadiums that will keep fans engaged with sports year-round. The sportsbook features a dazzling array of features, including a 2,000 square-foot curved video screen that displays continuous tickers, betting odds, stats, and up to 25 games at once in eye-popping 16,320 x 1,800 resolution. [ Read More ]

Bananas Peel Into History 

We’ve been huge fans of the Savannah Bananas and their yellow-tuxedoed master of ceremonies, Jesse Cole, for a long time. Cole has successfully turned around a moribund minor league franchise into one of the hottest tickets in sports. They recently ventured onto the road and saw their biggest crowd in team history during a two-game stop in Indianapolis with 15,000 fans. [ Read More ]

📸 Photo of the Month 📸

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Sometimes it feels impossible to chase perfection in sports. But, this month, New York Yankee Domingo Germán did just that – throwing the 24th perfect game in the history of Major League Baseball. It was also the first perfect game in 11 years. Here is where the story goes from improbable to remarkable – coming into the game, Germán was riding a 5.10 ERA and had given up ten runs in his previous start. Now, the vast history books of baseball will forever remember his perfection on an evening in June.

That wraps up an amazingly busy June! From all of us at SportsTech, we thank you for your continued support. If you are interested in applying to our upcoming program or know someone who should, we encourage you to learn more here.


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