Photo: Jake Scott

Zone Startups Sports/Media launches with business showcase

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By Noella Ovid

Six startups pitched their solutions for the multi-billion dollar sports industry at the launch of Zone Startups Sports/Media, an accelerator program focused on supporting the growth of sports and media related startups on Feb. 13.

“Our twist was a little bit different. What we said is we are going to marry these entrepreneurs with season’s executives,” said Mark Cohon, former CFL commissioner.

The All-Star Weekend: Sports Startup Pitch Session was presented by the National Basketball Association (NBA) in partnership with Ryerson Futures Inc. It was held at the DMZ at Ryerson University.

The startups showcased their technology to a group of attendees that included senior digital executives from NBA teams.

“We think this will [lead] to a lot of development [and] a lot of innovation in the area of sports and media,” said Mohamed Lachemi, Ryerson’s interim president. “This is an area where we can have major impact on the industry.”

A total of 12 companies were set up, looking to tell their story and interact with entrepreneurs for advice to get into the sports and media vertical.

One of the startups at the event was PUSH – the first advanced wearable that can track and analyze weight training performance.

“We’re able to provide coaches with [a] really objective, easy to use, lightweight product that can help them understand when the push their athletes harder and when to help them hold back,” said founder Rami Alhamad.

According to a handout, PUSH was scientifically validated by some of the leading sports science researchers in the industry and has been adopted by over 35 pro teams across multiple leagues worldwide.

Another company pitching at the event was Brizi – an interactive system of robotic cameras placed around the perimeter of the stadium that can be controlled by any fan.

“It’s about connecting the photos that are already being taken by the fans in the stadium and being able to now turn it into a monetized world revenue stream,” said Anna Hu, CEO and co-founder.

The cameras work by having fans punch in their seat number and zooming in to let them become the producer for the next 30 seconds. The photo is then brought back to their phone for in the moment sharing by turning authentic fan content into paid media sponsored experience.

“Because when you see content coming from people that you know on social media, you’re much more likely to engage with that content because it’s your friend,” Hu said.

An average photo from the Brizi cam generates about 400 engagements in terms of likes, comments and views on social media.

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