SFIA Start-Up Challenge Finalists Collectively Raise Over $50 Million in Funding

The Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) is preparing to host the 3rd annual Start-Up Challenge at the SFIA Industry Leaders Summit (ILS) in Denver, Colorado, on September 26–27, 2018.

In the first two years, SFIA received over 200 applications for the Start-Up Challenge, including entrepreneurs from more than 20 different countries, all vying for a spot as a top five finalist. As a finalist, start-ups are provided with the opportunity to pitch their product or service in front of hundreds of C-level executives from the sports and fitness industry. In previous years, attendees have included representatives from adidas, Amazon, ASICS, BSN Sports, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Nautilus, New Balance, Nike, Rawlings, Robert W. Baird, Speedo, Under Armour and many more.

Summit is Becoming an Epicenter for Investments

The Industry Leaders Summit has seen a spike in attendance from sports technology accelerators/incubators, institutional investors, sports team investors and even high net worth individuals all looking to deploy capital to the hottest sports and fitness startup out there today.

Deal Flow

Two years after launching the franchise, the SFIA has vetted over 200 companies, with hopes to compete on the big stage. Of those 200, SFIA narrowed it down to 10 finalists (5 in 2016 and 5 in 2017) to present in front of the C-Suite executives at the Industry Leaders Summit. Collectively, the 10 companies that have pitched have already raised more than $53 million in venture funding. Perhaps what’s most impressive about this is of those 10 companies, there are several who are preparing to raise their Series B and C rounds already.

Large Runway Ahead

The first two winners were Hookit and ShotTracker, in 2016 and 2017, respectively. Both companies at the tip of the iceberg in their burgeoning fields of sports sponsorships and sports analytics, respectively.

ShotTracker Co-Founder, Davyeon Ross, noted, “The SFIA Start-Up Challenge was a unique opportunity and privilege to share the ShotTracker story with some of the best companies within the sports and fitness industry… It was an awesome experience and one every sports start-up should aspire to be part of.”

All-Star Roster of Judges

In addition to incredible marketing exposure via SFIA channels, the 10 finalists got 15 minutes on the big stage in front of not only attendees from companies like Nike and Reebok, but also received real-time feedback on how to better their business from an all-star panel of judges.

In the past, judges have included President and CEO of Rawlings, Mike Zlaket; CEO of United Sports Brands, Tony Armand; CEO of Brooks Running, Jim Weber; CEO of Riddell, Dan Arment; Director at Robert W. Baird, Matthew Tingler; NFL Hall of Famer, Herschel Walker; and Managing Director at North Castle Partners, Alison Minter.

While the excitement and expectations are building among industry leaders for the 2018 Start-Up Challenge, this year’s Challenge is destined to be bigger and better than ever. So — Be sure to stay on the lookout for some new, surprising details to come in the next few weeks!

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SFIA is the leading global trade association in the sports & fitness industry. SFIA is the #1 source for sport & fitness research. More info at www.sfia.org.

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