On Monday, the L.A. Dodgers and R/GA announced the first cohort for their LA Dodgers Sports & Entertainment Accelerator. While it may seem odd, there is a solid motive behind a baseball team opening an accelerator. The ownership group, who took over three years ago, have been quite active and vocal in their commitment to Los Angeles as a whole:
In addition to the culture of winning baseball and a first-class, fan-friendly experience at Dodger Stadium, the Dodgers continue to build on a strong partnership with the city of Los Angeles through numerous community relations programs, the Dodgers’ Foundation, and the city’s economic development by fostering job creation and growth. With the launch of this Accelerator, the Dodgers are committing also to helping bring sports innovation and entrepreneurship to the city as well.1
The accelerator is quite different, in terms of structure, than the standard model. Rather than focusing solely on early stage and/or pre-seed stage companies, the Dodgers Accelerator opened applications to companies of all shapes and sizes:
Companies of any size will be considered. We welcome early-stage startups that are developing new technologies, products and services, as well as later-stage start-ups that have achieved initial product-market-fit and are looking to accelerate their growth in the industry. The program is designed to enable companies to explore and launch new business models as well as help drive the growth of great products and services that have recently launched but not yet scaled.2
Essentially, then, the value of the program goes well beyond capital and access to mentors. The Dodgers – the baseball club, not the accelerator – have one of the largest fan bases, and Dodgers Stadium is one of the most well attended venues in professional sports. That is, more than the standard accelerator benefits, the major selling point of the Dodgers Accelerator; it comes with access to a massive market of fans and enthusiasts.
In terms of companies, the Dodgers Accelerator cast a wide net:
The Dodgers Accelerator is looking for any tech startup creating products and services at the crossroads of sports, technology, and entertainment. This includes training, coaching and medical services, smart stadium and mobile applications, fan engagement, 2nd screen and VR, gaming, fantasy, ticketing, and CRM technologies3
The inaugural cohort reflects this wide net:
Appetize has created a mobile POS system and inverntory management platform specifically for live events.
DoorStat has built an analytics platform that provides businesses with “access to real-time customer demographic data in order to increase marketing effectiveness, optimize staffing, improve vendor accountability, and align product, brand, & customer strategy.” For some reason, though, the company feels the need to break one of the cardinal rules of the internet, having an auto-play audio track on their homepage.
FieldLevel is one of the more unique sports-based companies that we have come across in some time. Essentially, the company has built a sort-of private social network, focused on sports recruiting. FieldLevel helps college programs and coaches recruit players.
FocusMotion has built a hardware and operating system agnostic software development kit that makes it easy to track and analyze movements with wearables.
LeagueApps has built a platform that allows local sports organizations to manage nearly every logistical aspect of running a league. This includes: handling registration and payments, messaging and updates, scheduling, performance and stat tracking, and more.
ProDay is not yet available, but the company will offer users the ability to schedule workouts with professional athletes.
SidePrize is another unique company. Anyone who has ever played fantasy sports will instantly see the value in SidePrize. In a nutshell, the company allows users to set up side bets and side challenges throughout a fantasy season.
Swish Analytics is a robust analytics platform, specifically built for fantasy sports.
Yenzo, also not yet available, is a social platform that allows fans to poll and debate about sports.