Inside Track

Startup Spotlight: Showcasing Five Teams

We recently announced the first ten startups joining our inaugural 2021 Comcast NBCUniversal SportsTech Accelerator.

During the application process, we were introduced to thousands of compelling, exciting, and thoughtful companies worldwide that wanted a chance to join our partner consortium and build products designed to change the way sports are played for good.

We’re so excited to bring these companies into our accelerator, and now we’re happy to introduce them to you formally. We’ll begin with five of our startups, some of their backstories, and the products they’re hoping will change the sports landscape.

Meet the Startups

Home City: Toronto, Canada
Founder: Brennon D’Souza
Investment Area of Focus: Fan Engagement, Venue & Event Innovation

We’ve all had the challenge of trying to get tickets to a sporting event at the last minute. As the game gets closer, market dynamics, as well as supply and demand, greatly impact the price. If a team is playing and in contention for the playoffs, ticket prices can surge even more. For fans lucky enough to grab a seat, the purchase can be pricey! Yet, even in a perfect world, some teams cannot sell every single seat. There have been few options available for fans who already have seats to move to a better seat that happens to be unused. Dibz is trying to change the game for fans looking to grab and upgrade their seats by leveraging a text messaging solution for instant upgrades. Initially founded right before the start of the pandemic last year, founder Brennon D’Souza was bummed about the timing but is seeing a huge opportunity as sports and live music return—two core areas Dibz is working on solving.

We’ve seen startups change supply models for hotels like HotelTonight, where travelers can grab unused inventory for a room that may potentially go unused. That concept hasn’t quite made it to the sports or music and entertainment industry. With Dibz, D’Souza is applying learnings from his corporate experience in a way that helps fans get closer to their desired experience while helping stadiums sell unsold inventory. “What we want to do is partner with all the venues out there, all the leagues, all the franchises that have this problem,” D’Souza explained to us. “And we believe there’s a lot of them that do have unsold inventory they want to get rid of. They want to do it in a way that doesn’t devalue price structures. That’s what we’ve done.”

Dibz joins our accelerator working on a mission to partner and collaborate with entertainment and sports organizations as partners to help bring us all back together to cheer for the experiences we’ve been dreaming of for the last year.

Home City: Toronto, Canada
Founders: Ashish Agrawal & Ritika Bhartia
Investment Area of Focus: Media and Entertainment

Ashish, co-founder, and CEO of Eon Media is a veteran of the broadcast industry. While working to build OTT (Over-the-Top) and IoT (Internet-of-Things) solutions over the last 12 years, he has seen a number of prevailing challenges that have not been solved by any customers or partners. “Our product, our company, is providing unique and innovative solutions to improve end-user content and viewing experience and help save companies 60 to 70 percent in backing costs,” Ashish explains.

Ashish and Ritika are doing that with a full-feature, next-gen video streaming software that provides customers with the tools they need to target, personalize, and deliver video experiences that keep them entertained and engaged. Additionally, they’re using advanced AI and machine learning methods in their video products.

Eon Media brings some established experience across a wide range of backgrounds, including engineering, finance, marketing, and sales which helps them diversify their product offerings and understand the implications of their work far beyond sports.

Ashish is excited to join the accelerator for several reasons. “There are three things that I’m looking forward to in the Comcast program. First, networking opportunities with the Comcast team members. Second, ability to provide our solutions to Comcast for their purposes and to improve their customers’ viewing experience. And third, to get introductions through Comcast to some of the extended partners and customers to provide our solutions to expand our portfolio to them as well.”

Home City: Geneva, Switzerland
Founders: Lance Newhart & Paul Calleja
Investment Area of Focus: Media & Entertainment

Today, sports broadcasting is competing for our eyes in all sorts of places, from live network television to social media channels and everywhere in between.

The pandemic has shown us that many sports reporters and announcers are capable of doing their work from just about anywhere in the world. This sizable change has also led media companies to think about how they are creating, editing, and producing content. In a way, there are millions of smartphones attached to the hands of sports fans all across the globe, and many of those have the opportunity to be capable reporters who can capture the action of a game (when they safely return) and share it with broadcasters.

“So, we take that smartphone, and we turn it into a broadcast camera. I think that’s one thing that’s very exciting because I know four billion of us in this world have a smartphone in our pocket. Demand is growing quickly; just recently we assisted the European Film Academy with the European Film Awards in Berlin,” Newhart says.

Of course, the other important component is the delivery of the assets and video to the broadcaster in a safe, reliable, and efficient way that doesn’t sacrifice the quality of the product—all over the internet. That truly could be a game-changer for how broadcast and media companies receive and obtain compelling content that can engage and interest fans.

Newhart is excited to get to work during the accelerator and also have the opportunity to work with some of our industry expert partners. “There’s not only NBC Sports, Sky Sports, but there’s also USA Cycling, USA Ski and Snowboard, and NASCAR. We feel that our technology could be used in some way, really by all of them. So we’re very excited to discuss that and hit the ground running in a structured way, of course!”

Home City: Dallas, Texas
Founders: Bruce Sears, Drew Williams, Kelly Pracht & Michael Stearns
Investment Area of Focus: Media & Entertainment, Fan Engagement

Books are an amalgamation of stories composed of words and phrases. Movies are strings of scenes that help shape a broader narrative. In sports, games are broken down into hundreds upon hundreds of meaningful moments—plays that are incredibly important to the game’s outcome.

As technology advances and data has become much more accessible, teams, coaches, and players are investing much more into understanding how these metrics can help an athlete get better by understanding the moment, and ultimately, how a team can use that data to make better in-game decisions that tilt the game in their favor.

nVenue is taking a more fan-centric approach to using these stats and metrics to change the way they watch the game. With its roots as a technology company, nVenue is leveraging the power of sporting moments to build its product. “What we do is we analyze the moments in sports. For example, every 30 seconds a batter comes up to the plate in baseball and then takes a pitch 30 seconds later. 30 seconds later, it’s another new pitch. So the world of sports totally changes in 30 seconds. And our product actually analyzes all the data points occurring in a game and capturing all of that,” Sears says.

As states increasingly look to legalize sports betting and wagering, we’re going to see ancillary products emerge into the sports marketplace that are designed to build off the excitement of sports and their predictability. Gamification of the “game within a game” is one of those areas that nVenue can build from. It can influence decisions on live-game betting and how you roster a daily fantasy lineup. Broadcasters looking to complement live sporting events with content that keeps fans engaged will be tapping technologies like this to evolve and expand their content offerings on a number of platforms.

“Our product is going to change the world because we are going to show not only the sports fan but media and broadcasters that the world of sports changes so fast,” Sears told us.

On a sports team, different players represent a blending of backgrounds and experiences that help make that particular team unique. nVenue is no different, and Bruce explains why he believes he and his team have all the ingredients for success:

“Our team works together well, and we are all fans. There is no one on the team that doesn’t understand sports, doesn’t understand technology, doesn’t understand what it takes for athletes to actually get on a playing field for a broadcast to be met, to be created. We love sports, we love technology, and we made a product that we love.”

Home City: Cleveland, Ohio
Founders: Benjamin Gascoigne & John Kulbis
Investment Area of Focus: Player Performance

In the United States, there are more than 214 million joggers, runners, and walkers. Many use city streets where they compete for space with cars and hope that flashing lights and fluorescent vests keep them safe. Many of these runners hit the road and trails in the early morning or late afternoon hours when lack of light makes it hard for drivers to see them. Founder John Kulbis believes that he found a compelling answer and discovered it in one of the more unique founder’s stories we’ve heard. As a former competitive runner with Olympic aspirations, he landed in a research and development role in the running industry. While he always knew runners needed products that let motorists know they were there, the industry provided add-on layers and garments that added uncomfortable chafing bulk and drag to the runner.

Kulbis tapped an experience he had back in 2014 when he was doing a side gig painting a house. “At the end of the day, I accidentally leaned against a wall I had just rolled. Setting out for a run that evening just to get some fresh air, I was running down the street. The sun was setting, traffic was passing me, and I quickly thought, ‘Hey, is this white strip of paint on my arm giving me added safety?’’ From there, he wondered if he could create a wipe-on, wipe-off reflective safety product that wouldn’t be hard to get off the skin and wouldn’t cause any additional weight or discomfort on it. Kulbis was able to work to create an industry-first product that was deemed safe by the FDA as well as safe and easy to apply.

Safety Skin has a unique opportunity with our partner ecosystem to take some of their product evolution in the running space and apply it to other areas where athlete safety is a big priority, including cycling.

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!

If you want to connect with these startups or us, please reach out to us on social media or send us a DM on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn.


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