Sports Loft works with the most exciting tech startups in sport and entertainment. Listen for our network’s insight into sport, entertainment, investment and technology.
Ryan Sports Ventures: Investing in people that change the game
This week Yanni and Charlie welcome Paul Hourigan onto the podcast to get his view on the world of sports, media and entertainment investment. Paul is partner at Ryan Sports Ventures, the sports investment arm of the Chicago-based Ryan family, which has a sports portfolio that spans interests in the Chicago Bears and AFC Bournemouth, plus tech businesses like Tagboard.
During the episode, we learn the strategy behind RSV’s involvement with Bournemouth and the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, Paul explains why he thinks sport’s reliance on sponsorship and rights sales needs a rethink, and we ask for his hot sectors to watch in 2024. Spoiler: AI gets a mention.
Our favourite sections included Paul's reflections on the tailwinds in women's sports, and the growth potential for businesses which are able to take sports data and make it genuinely actionable.
08:30 – The difficulty of focusing on multiple verticals
12:00 – The returns of investing in teams versus technology
19:00 – The background to the AFC Bournemouth deal
26:30 – Learnings from the world of rugby
34:00 – The over-reliance on sponsorship and rights sales
41:00 – The use of AI in sports tech
45:30 – Evaluating what a good return is
BMW, Karta and marketing in the metaverse
This week's podcast features Yanni and Andy taking a deep dive into the world of gaming with Pia Schörner, head of digital content creation & BMW Metaverse at BMW, and Erik Londré, co-founder and CEO of Karta – the Sports Loft member which works with sports teams and music artists to build experiences in games like Roblox and Fortnite.
We dig into how sports organisations and other brands can incorporate gaming as part of their marketing mix, touching on in-game merchandise, measuring success and picking the right platform.
Highlights include Pia pushing BMW execs to allow gamers to blow up Bimmers in a game (“the community will like it and they'll talk about it because it's authentic”), Erik on the thrill of live esports events, and how to find the “sweet spot” that allows for both authentic gaming experiences and brand promotion. Our guests also reveal lessons learnt from their recent projects and discuss why engaging with younger audiences on these platforms is so crucial for brands who want to stay relevant – across the world of sports and beyond.
06:30 – Defining the metaverse13:00 – How sports can utilise the metaverse15:45 – The pros and cons of e-sports as a marketing tool23:30 – The process of designing an activation29:30 – Marrying brands with the gaming platform36:30 – Using gaming to boost relevancy 40:00 – KPIs and indicators of success
RX3 Growth Partners: consumer investment alongside athletes
In this month's Investor's View episode, Yanni sits down with Andrew Costa, partner at RX3 Growth Partners, a consumer growth equity firm co-founded by NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
To kick off, Andrew gives us an overview of RX3's operational strategy, which focuses on investments in consumer wellness and sports companies. The unique part of the model is the way the group draws on the networks, knowledge and insights of their athlete and celebrity backers to benefit the consumer focused companies they invest in.
Later in the discussion, Andrew sheds light on RX3's meticulous decision-making process and their focus within the consumer wellness and fitness sector. He elaborates on the skills and traits RX3 looks for in founders and shares insights into the growth areas that are exciting him, and shares his take on the state of the market.
With a successfully deployed first fund of $50 million across 19 portfolio companies, RX3 is now looking for opportunities to invest in from its second fund, a $150 million vehicle.
06:00 – Moving from one-off investments to building a fun?
09:00 – Onboarding athletes as LPs14:00 – Deciphering fad trends versus long-term shifts
21:00 – Managing sponsor clashes
26:00 – Estimating growth returns on investments
31:00 – Backing big brands versus high growth startups
38:00 – Where RX3 add value beyond dollars
44:00 – Regretting missed opportunities
The role of machine learning in sports, and how to build an AI startup
This week we’re discussing the intersection of sports, media and artificial intelligence. Join our host Yanni and founder Charlie, as they sit down with Don White, CEO and co-founder of Satisfi Labs, and Jamie Wilde, head of technology & data science at Greenfly.
WISE Ventures: supporting the evolution of next-gen businesses
In the latest episode of the Sports Loft Podcast, Yanni is joined by Konrad von Moltke, principal of New York-based investment group, WISE Ventures.
Within the WISE portfolio, you'll find familiar names like Sports Loft member companies Tagboard and FEVO, plus former member Slate, and many more across the sports, media and entertainment space.
Konrad takes us behind the scenes at WISE, revealing why the firm likes to assume board positions in their investments, the art of crafting a robust cap table, and his secret for juggling numerous moving parts and projects (hint: you've just got to stay impeccably organised!).In September's 'Investor's View' episode Konrad also explains that for him, one of the most important skills for a founder to have is the ability to sell a vision.
Timestamps:08:30 – Tech adoption in sports organisations14:00 – The WISE thesis and strategic approach19:30 – Active deployment in 202323:00 – Why take board positions25:00 – Tagboard and building a great cap table28:00 – What do you look for in founding teams?35:00 – The strength of being organised
How star signing drive fandom, and is short-form content king?
This week on the podcast, Yanni is joined by a trio of industry experts, including Kristen Rodgers, the sports and media partnerships lead at Tagboard, Matt Gentry, 77 Sports Management’s managing director and Andy Selby, Sports Loft’s very own head of strategy.
Our first discussion kicks off with a deep dive into how leagues that sit outside of Europe’s top tier are using star signings to grow their fanbases. Our guests examine the Messi transfer to Inter Miami and the arrivals of Ronaldo, Benzema, and Henderson in the Saudi Pro League, exploring their impact on the league's popularity.
Moving on, we dig into the changing consumption habits in sports media, fueled by the rise of short-form content. With YouTube execs expressing concern that Shorts is cannibalising its core product, Matt, Kristen and Andy discuss what’s driving the shift to bitesize formats and what it means for sports. Plus, they examine the evolving strategies of young athletes, as they navigate the world of content and find themselves becoming influencers and content creators.
07:00 – Messi to Inter Miami
09:00 – Athletes as creators
12:45 – Building athlete brands
18:00 – Saudi Pro League vs MLS
22:00 – Athletes as investors
30:00 – Short-form vs long-form content
36:00 – How social media is impacting other formats
41:00 – Young athletes navigating social media
44:00 – The success of the docuseries format
Information you can’t find anywhere else, direct from the people on the front lines of sports tech and sports marketing. Love this podcast!