Created to "promote and navigate the global SportsTech ecosystem" SportstechX is cutting through all the noise in the sports tech sector. We chatted to Co-Founder, Rohn Malhotra.
Initiating and opening up conversations for all is at the core of what drives Co-Founder, Rohn Malhotra and his vision for SportsTechX. Starting out in a blog format, the sports tech giant is now a deemed must-have for those in the sector. Creating, publishing and promoting inspired content, they are leading the way in fostering partnerships – all through the core belief that athletes, fans and executives belong together in conversation.
Firstly, how did it all get started and how has it evolved over the years to become the SportstechX we see today?
SportsTechX started essentially as a Medium blog, putting out content on the latest developments in the SportsTech ecosystem. We talked about the coolest startups from across the world, important events and conferences and even established a SportsTech Framework which has since become an industry-wide reference point of what SportsTech really means. This was an important development in our early years and became the bedrock of all the content we put out today – reports, newsletter, podcast, database etc.
What were the initial goals you set for yourself when starting out? Have they evolved with the company over time or do they remain at the center?
Our first goal was to find someone who would pay for all this cool content we were putting out! Once we slowly established that, our goals became bigger. To not just put out great content but become a connector within the SportsTech ecosystem, working with startups to help them find investors and / or clients. This is an important part of where we see ourselves today.
What was it like starting out?
Tough but fun, any startup founder will probably say the same. It’s always exciting when you are passionate about something which you want to share with the world. And then you slowly see people in other parts excited about the same things you are.
We read that SportsTechX is, “to promote and navigate the global SportsTech ecosystem”. Can you tell us a little more about your leading ethos and how this fits within today’s sporting industry landscape?
In 2016-17 we saw the SportsTech industry as highly fragmented but also growing really quickly in different directions. Solutions for athletes, fans and sports executives had very different agendas but all perhaps shared a common goal, to make sports better, more exciting, more accessible. Our goal has always been to cut through all this noise and establish some common ground that can bring all these conversations together.
How does SportstechX aim to aid in the development of transparency, awareness and maturity within the sports tech industry?
Firstly by making sure our content is always available for free, making it accessible to anyone who is interested. Second is the regularity with which we publish content, for example we’ve been doing our annual ecosystem overviews across different markets since 2018. Lastly, by staying on top of the latest trends and developments in the industry. Putting out quality content regularly makes sure that access to information is democratised. At a high level, everyone can find out exactly what is happening in the US vs Germany vs China, all they have to do is access our content.
How has the sports technology ecosystem changed in recent years?
The best way to summarise this development is that SportsTech has moved from a ‘nice to have’ to a ‘must have’ as part of the strategy of any sports related entity. It is no longer the future, SportsTech has definitely arrived.
What significance does creating a space that creates new connections for professionals in the sports industry have on the sector?
During the early stages of the development of an ecosystem, something as simple as knowing who the right people are to connect with in different geographies is very important. This creates conversations that lead to the ecosystem developing further. Now, it is more about framing the conversation around the latest trends. This helps open up discussions and provide a voice to various, perhaps conflicting opinions .
What advice would you give to brands looking to start out in the sports tech industry?
First step is to understand the entire landscape, don’t just jump on the latest trends because you think you have to. You’ll get lost very quickly. A great example right now are NFTs – before launching your own NFT, it is really important to understand what has worked in the space and more importantly what has not. Then track the latest trends and developments, all this before developing a clear executable strategy. This is where we help.
For those that might not know, SportsTechX creates detailed reports. In short, what can you tell us about your latest European Framework and the current landscape of the European sports tech sector?
North America, and especially the US, is clearly the leader when it comes to SportsTech as it sees the most amount of investment activity. Also given that there are 5 major sports leagues apart from such a high collegiate level, the market is far more mature and open to innovation. That said, Europe is home to some of the hottest innovations in sports and teams and leagues are fast realising the importance of incorporating tech into their organisation strategies. This creates plenty of opportunities for startups and investors alike.
Do you have any industry insights into anything exciting that is coming to the industry in the next year? If not, do you have any predictions for 2022?
2021 was a mega year for SportsTech, breaking records by crossing $10b in investment. More than double any previous year. Here are the three big trends from 2021 attracting most of that investment
Connected Fitness, devices or apps that track one’s activity to help achieve fitness goals, was especially hot during lockdown with breakout companies such Peloton, Tonal & Tempo finding big audiences.
Non Fungible Tokens or NFTs are clearly the breakout story of 2021. Dapper Labs, Sorare, Candy Digital are some of the most innovative companies in this new digital asset class
Sports Betting legalisation in the US has led to innovation in formats and plenty of investment / M&A deals. This has a major impact globally. In Europe, previously reluctant sports teams and leagues are now looking to maximise returns from betting partnerships.
Expect each of these to continue to grow stronger in 2022 while we’ll be there watching for any other breakout stories over the year.
SportsTechX are the #1 source for data & insights about SportsTech startups and the surrounding ecosystem. Check out their work mapping out the industry and helping organizations navigate through.