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Last year the Los Angeles Dodgers and R/GA formed a unique accelerator program that took 10 sports technology startups and combined them with the business expertise and networks of the ballclub and international advertising agency. This first program ended on Nov. 10 with the founders of the 10 companies pitching their newly polished ventures on top of home plate at Dodger Stadium in front of investors, media members and sports industry influencers.
Now the accelerator is back for its second round, but with a few slight changes.
There will only be five companies in this year’s program, and the Dodgers and R/GA focused on selecting companies that are in a growth-stage primed for strategic business development and scale.
The five companies are:
• Greenfly transforms the relationships of organizations into powerful networks for content creation and distribution.
• Keemotion enables broadcast partners, professional leagues, and universities from around the world to produce, customize, stream and share professional-quality HD video content live with the push of a button.
• ShotTracker, with its innovative “ShotTracker TEAM” solution, affordably captures real-time stats for basketball teams, yielding powerful analytics for coaches, players and fans.
• Renegade creates next-generation, Sweat X branded sports detergent, stain and odor technologies, specifically engineered to meet the needs of today’s high performance sports apparel and gear, used at the professional, collegiate and youth sports levels.
• WSC Technologies has developed a platform that creates personalized sports videos automatically and in real-time, helping sports leagues and broadcasters to engage fans and monetize their content.
By narrowing their focus from 10 to 5 companies, this year’s program intends to customize their efforts and incubation with each company. Each of the five companies will receive specific engagement with the Dodgers’ leadership, business units, and industry network as well as with R/GA’s strategic marketing, branding, design and technology services. Additionally, each company will be set up with “high profile external partners” that can help with their specific scaling needs.
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In discussing the difference of this year’s program with last year’s, Tucker Kain, CFO of the Dodgers and managing director at Guggenheim Baseball Management, explained that they focused on casting a wide net in a broad range of verticals and stages in 2015. But this year they narrowed their focus to companies with specific products and market traction that can potentially complement each other as they grow.
“Building on the success of the first program, we saw an opportunity to evolve to be even more strategic and targeted in how we impact each of the companies in the program,” he said in a statement. “This year, we’re surrounding each company with a carefully chosen group of strategic partners, advisors, Dodger resources and R/GA services teams to help execute a high impact pilot. The goal for each of these pilots is to accelerate the path to scale.”
Kain went on to say, “A key element to the accelerator is lining up proof of concepts with external partners who can help give us line of sight on scale for the business; we are able to do this because these companies are farther along than traditional accel programs. We have a series of partners already on board for this.”
As this year’s program will work to be more prescriptive and understand what each company needs, it’s main goal will not be to get each startup to raise another round, but to set them on a path to scale their businesses in a big way.
From an R/GA perspective, global COO Stephen Plumlee believes this program is significantly different than any other accelerator programs. ”During the first program we worked with companies at all stages, from pre-seed to series B,” he said in a statement. “That diversity required a program design that was flexible and customized. In this program, all five of the companies are growth-stage businesses. Reducing the size of the class enables us to engage more intensively and in a targeted manner that will be impactful to their businesses immediately. That structure, as well as the addition of active external partners, makes this program very different than a traditional accelerator.”
The program this year will follow the same schedule as last year’s, concluding in early November with invite-only demo events at which each startup will present to industry leaders, partners and customers in the sports, technology and entertainment industries.