SportsTech 2021: The tech trends and start-ups changing the game – Part 3

Back by popular demand and now a permanent feature. Yes, that’s right, each month Sport Tech Hub will interview a series of global experts to shed light on the most promising sport and fitness innovations that can get people more active. 

Want to see who’s already given their opinion? Check out part one and part two. 

Oliver Howard, Managing Director Sports & EventTech, Startupbootcamp

Tech trends

The global pandemic has seriously impacted the way we consume, attend, participate, and engage with sport. Social distancing and staying at home, the keystones of the effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, are creating new and significant opportunities for digital connections between athletes and grassroot sport participants. With stadium crowds banned or limited, technology is bringing fans and their sporting heroes closer than they have ever been – at home and abroad. This is driving a new segment of highly engaged sports fans and participants globally.

Start-ups to Watch:

Brightensport (Germany): Brightensport is an AI-Powered platform where athletes of all levels and sports get video-based technique analysis by pro-athletes. To participate, athletes upload a video and choose a pro athlete from whom to receive feedback. This encourages deep engagement between pro and amateur athletes, in a COVID-safe and globally accessible way. A great team, with a big vision, Brightensport is certainly one to watch in 2021!

Charlie Greenwood, Founder at Sports Loft  

Tech trends

I think a big trend will be as companies move from being functional physical activity apps to thinking about how they build and retain audiences – and in doing so, they can start to be looked at as some of the next generation of media companies. If you look at Peloton, they have built an audience around home fitness, Home Court has built an audience of players who want to improve at basketball – both are delivering fresh content, membership plans and most importantly, in their ability to track progress, reasons to keep returning – something that traditional companies have always had to rely on solely their content for.

Startups to watch

Formalytics (UK): I think that in the football space they are a great example of the trend I talked about above. They are really working out this transition from functional app to building an audience. They have an opportunity to build a significant audience of players who want to improve at the football skills and their ability to analyse players’ skills immediately, rather than players having to go to a venue, is a big reason for the audience to keep coming back to the app. This retention mechanism, combined with the ability deliver content that will help players keep improving and the work they are doing to build a genuine consumer-facing brand, will drive significant numbers for them. 

Anna Hellman, Director at ThinkSport

Tech trends

Many new solutions keep popping up, but I see huge potential for the application of simple tools in the urban setting. Just think of the installation of a simple speedometer at the steps of a metro station, motivating people to climb up or down the stairs instead of taking the elevator. Such solution is cost-efficient, appealing, and impactful. Then, the integration of gamification with physical activity is becoming increasingly relevant – a fun way to motivate people, be it in groups or independently. Finally, tools to monitor and manage individual performance keep evolving daily and will certainly remain very popular.

Startups to watch

Box-up (Switzerland): Box-up comes to my mind immediately! This start-up offers an autonomous locker which is connected with a smartphone application, enabling the rental of sports and leisure objects directly on green outdoor spaces. The objects up for rental are categorised into leisure, sport and relaxation. A simple, but very practical solution, allowing anyone to have easy access to sporting equipment.

Gareth Welsh, Director at Gympass

Tech Trends

“I don’t have time”, “I ended up working too late”, “I missed my alarm” and “I’m stuck at the office” are all too familiar phrases that anyone trying to build healthier habits would become all too familiar with very quickly in the normal world. The last 12 months taught us that wherever, whenever, however – it is possible to maintain physical activity habits. It is no surprise that the technology which has really come to the fore has been the rise of GAMIFICATION, but these are most successful when powered by MICRO-WORKOUTS. Trends have shown that those embracing the home workout will more often than not opt for the 20 minute workout session, and it has been far more achievable to attain a regular pattern amongst other competing priorities. These snippets of physical activity help to maintain the journey to a healthy lifestyle and change habits for the long term. These two trends, when combined, will create a unique experience like no other to help develop long-lasting behaviour change.

Start-ups to watch

Freeletics (Germany): Freeletics embodies the above perfectly. In the last year, it’s been one of the products leading the home work-out revolution. It provides users with a variety of different workout classes with a range of durations to fit around a person’s busy schedule. 

RadarFit (Brazil): RadarFit was the other start-up that sprang to mind straight away. The app utilises gamification providing users with rewards for working out, completing mindfulness exercises, and staying hydrated. Although most of their penetration has been in South America to date, they are sure to make a splash in Europe soon.

Patrick Colbeck

Program Manager
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