Startup Spotlight Part II: The Final Five
We recently announced ten startups joining our inaugural 2021 Comcast NBCUniversal SportsTech Accelerator, including a more personal introduction to five of the teams participating. You can meet that first batch of teams in part one of our Startup Spotlight here.
Below you can read about the other five teams currently in our accelerator program. From esports to swimming, these startups cover a unique array of sports technology and come with some very intriguing backstories. We know for a fact that these founders will be positively changing the sports landscape for years to come.
Meet the Startups
Ane Swimwear designs advanced swimming apparel for diverse swimmers and aims to eliminate the barriers that keep people from enjoying the water. Their flagship product, Ane Swim, provides hair protection and the ability to keep hair completely dry so that everyone can enjoy the freedom of swimming.
Trish P. Miller, CEO of Ane Swimwear created her company from a very personal place. When she was younger, she had a near-drowning experience and developed a passion for creating a product that helps people learn to swim safely. “Ane swimwear exists to eliminate every single barrier that keeps people from enjoying the water. It provides a fully waterproof barrier that allows you to have dry hair once you finish your water activity,” Miller says.
For those who need hair protection for aquatic activities, it’s been incredibly challenging to find the product they need. Until now, there’s been nothing out there designed specifically for them, leading to countless hours washing, untangling, and styling their hair. It’s been a huge deterrent to getting out and safely enjoying the water.
Ane Swimwear is not only revolutionizing a product-market fit in swimming, but it’s also breaking down cultural barriers by making a swimming product that’s inclusive. “This product will change the world because it will bring a whole new diversity of swimmers. It will allow for those who ordinarily would not be able to enjoy water activities or enjoy the sport because they had to think about what they were going to do with their hair,” Miller says.
Historically, it’s been a long time since swimming caps have evolved. There hasn’t been much innovation around them since they were created back in 1883.
Miller is excited about joining the accelerator alongside her “beautiful mix of people” that comprise her company including engineers, public health experts, textile scientists, and graphic designers.
Their technology has roots in both research and academia, stemming from support through Columbia University and funded by grants from the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the National Science Federation (NSF).
The core of the idea revolves around developing neurostimulation devices. Charles Rodenkirch, the founder and president of Sharper Sense, is a biomedical engineer and neuroscientist who developed neuromodulation technology that enhances performance.
Sharper Sense has a mission to create and develop ways for an athlete’s brain to process sensory information through their eyes, ears, and skin. Oftentimes, sports require a competitor to quickly make decisions in the span of milliseconds. The consequences that result can be success at the competition level (goal scored or game won) or even ultimately impact the safety of an athlete.
“This technology has great potential to improve athlete’s performance and safety,” Rodenkirch explains. “Sharper Sense plans to change the world of sports by ensuring sensory processing clarity to prevent misperceptions linked with decreased performance and increased injury risk.”
StreamRecap builds video solutions for teams, leagues, and streamers across all esports, with a focus on instant automatic highlights and coaching tools. Their team is right at home in the burgeoning world of competitive online gaming. With an office right down the street from Riot Games and a number of sports startups in Santa Monica, they’re firmly in the industry mix. Karan Wadhera, Stream Recap’s founder, studied computer engineering at the University of California, San Diego, and has a passion for gaming. “I’m a gamer at heart. So not a day goes by without me playing League of Legends for the night and trying to rank up,” he explained.
As StreamRecap heads into our accelerator, some of their earliest customers have been a tremendous asset as they look to build products that shape competitive gaming at all phases, from collegiate players to professionals. “I think some of our greatest supporters have really been our early partners and customers. Without them being great sounding boards for new ideas and really trusting us to deliver for their high schools and colleges, we really couldn’t have gotten to where we are today,” Wadhera said.
By creating tools that can 50 athletes or 50,000, StreamRecap aspires to make it simple for anyone to scale up and create their own sports league. They will be a natural fit at the SportsTech Accelerator and believe the mentorship and experience they’ll get will put them in place to succeed even more.
“We’re really looking forward to learning from the mentors and, of course, the other companies and Comcast fold. I think there’s so much we can learn from traditional sports and sports tech that we can’t wait to apply to esports!”
The Sonar Company uses proprietary ultrasonic tone technology to transmit and receive data, interactions, beacons, and messages between devices in locations where traditional wireless communications are impossible or impractical.
The product can be used in schools, prisons, and has many practical and game-changing applications in the sports world. Interim CEO Roy Terracina describes it as Bluetooth on steroids. Already, in the first few days of immersion to the accelerator program, Roy has seen some interesting partnership potentials, especially in broadcasting.
Roy comes into our accelerator at a time when he hopes his work can be meaningful for The Sonar Company’s late founder. “I came into this role as the interim CEO through an unfortunate accident of one of our founders. He had a mishap this last summer and died in a freak accident. And having been a board member and mentor to him for a few years, I was asked by our board to take over. I’m excited about this role and excited about what I could do to help this team move forward,” Terracina says.
Now, it’s about seizing on the accelerator experience and taking advantage of an opportune moment for the company.
One of those opportunities was sensed by another founder in Costa Rica who believes that the emerging sports betting industry in America is taking advantage of the interactive and fan engagement possibilities that will come from it.
“We really feel that as gaming and gambling opens up in the United States and other countries, that our technology will enable that to be a reality—to always be connected. Sonar is the way of the future.”
XiQ develops smart devices that replace the conventional key ignition on most non-automotive vehicles, including golf carts and construction vehicles. They enable security, fleet IoT, and mobility sharing solutions to alleviate the transportation challenges facing many communities today.
If you think about it, many of the things we sometimes take for granted on our personal vehicles don’t quite translate into the fleet of vehicles that power the world of sports. Florian Meier, XiQ’s CTO and co-founder is hoping to change the game using their proprietary technology.
“If you look at the vehicles we are engaging, you find very little technology on them. We are changing that. One of the things that we really want to do is bring all the conveniences that you are used to in your car or at your house like a smart home to a golf cart, ATV, or other vehicles,” Meier says.
Karlos Walkes, CEO and co-founder tells us that the fleet owners and golf cart owners will benefit immensely and are not quite used to seeing the world of technology catch up to their vehicles. XiQ technology helps bring keyless security to their fleets, but most interestingly, introduces IoT capabilities so they can improve asset management and sharing capabilities with other vehicles. Until now, keyless tech hasn’t translated to non-automotive vehicles and there’s a lot of room to play in the sports landscape, including on racetracks and golf courses.
“We’re going to change, quite frankly, a large market—a market that’s rapidly expanding, because what we’ve learned is, especially with fleets, a lot of these smaller vehicles, golf carts, utility vehicles, electric vehicles, smaller light electric vehicles—they are a lot more affordable. They’re moving away from cars and trucks and they need the tools to address this growing population of vehicles that they see in the automotive market. And here comes our technology that will change the nature of the game. We’ve made it easy for them to do this,” Walkes explains.
Walkes is based in our hometown of Atlanta and is really excited. “We are homegrown here in Georgia and our technology is made in the USA. We’re excited to be a part of the cohort out of Atlanta. Exciting things are happening here and we’re going to prove that the Southeast is the heart of what’s happening, especially Atlanta. This is the tech center. We’re going to make it happen here and you’re going to see it here first,” he said.
Follow All The Action
There are plenty of ways for you to stay involved as this accelerator takes off. Of course, you can read all about it in our newsletter and here on Inside Track, but we also invite you to mark down your calendar for the biggest event of the year—Demo Day. You’ll get to see all the teams in action and pitching their startups and the work they completed over the course of the 12-week program.
🗓 Reserve Your Spot Now To Attend The 2021 Comcast NBCUniversal SportsTech Demo Day → RSVP Here
Stay tuned in a few weeks when we introduce you to the other five teams in our inaugural SportsTech Accelerator! We’re excited to show you their unique stories and the ideas that are changing the sports landscape!