The world of sports is undergoing a revolution in how people play, watch and enjoy their favourite activities. This creates many opportunities for entrepreneurs with a clear idea of the future to create new businesses which can change the world of sports.
What kind of entrepreneur will you be? It’s not always about reaching for the stars like Elon Musk and his SpaceX space transportation business or Phil Knight, the founder of Nike. There are many different ways to be an entrepreneur from being the boss of your own small business to the expansive visionary raising hundreds of millions of dollars.
First of all, you need an idea which inspires you to change the way things are. Isabel Perez Segura, founder of RealTrack Systems which develops real time trackers to capture physical sports data, says: “Dreams appear difficult to achieve but actually they are the fuel of our motivation”.
With your idea and your motivation, you can plan your first steps as an entrepreneur. Most new ideas have to start from nothing. For many would-be entrepreneurs, leaving the safety and security of a regular job with its predictable pay check is the hardest step of all. Professional investors want to know that you have the determination to take the first steps yourself. You will need to raise the initial capital from friends and use your savings to get through the first few months. Many entrepreneurs draw very small salaries or live on savings until they have developed the first product.
Minimum Viable Product (MVP).
This is the part of the journey with highest risk and it will test your resilience and determination as well as the idea itself. You also need to surround yourself with “believers” and mentors who can help you to separate your irrational fears from normal business risks.
The ideal, if it is possible, is to have a friendly, supportive customer as a “design partner” who can give you honest feedback about your ideas on the way to your first iteration of the product – the Minimum Viable Product (MVP). An MVP is that version of a new product which allows the team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort. This is an idea which Eric Ries introduced in his influential book The Lean Startup.
The main purpose of the MVP is to get a product into the market at minimum cost without spending money on features which customers don’t value. The idea is to get real world experience as soon as possible. This is a frightening prospect for some entrepreneurs because their idea may not survive the first contact with customers.
Bootstrapping or Venture Capital
Eventually you will have a viable product and you will be able to win some customers. You will still have many decisions to make about how to bring your product to market and how to finance the business. Bootstrapping or raising venture capital are the two main ways of doing this. Bootstrapping is slow and steady and you remain in control. Using venture capital is fast and furious and you may feel out of control. The choice depends on your market opportunity and the type of entrepreneur you wish to be.
Within the world of sports there are many opportunities in health & wellness, sports analytics, fan engagement and smart venues. However, eSports is the big new category experiencing explosive growth where entrepreneurs are already making an impact. The pace of change is enormous and large companies can struggle to keep up with the twist and turns. Two examples to watch out for are Klang, a new gaming studio based in Berlin, and Sviper, another gaming studio based in Hamburg.
Klang attracted $20 millions of new capital to invest in the development of Seed, a virtual world, a massively multiplayer online (MMO) space colony simulation game. The investors included Novator Partners and Lego Ventures.
Sviper focuses on creating outstanding gameplay experiences with high production values on mobile devices. Their latest game is Super Spell Heroes, a real-time 1-v-1 puzzle duel game. The title has caught on, and because of that, Sviper raised €2.5 million in funding from Modern Times Group in February 2019, which it will use to further grow the studio. Modern Times Group is the owner of two major eSports brands, ESL and Dreamhack, and it would be surprising if Sviper’s games were not eSports ready.
If you have an idea which you believe will change the world of sports then take your courage in both hands and listen to Walt Disney who said: “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”