I had the opportunity to attend the Connect Sport Innovators Capital Forum on June 16th to meet with some of the industry leaders and up-and-comers in the traditional and action sports industries. Connect SI is “an accelerator for emerging action sports, sporting goods, and traditional sports companies focused solely on developing and sharing strategies for growth and success. ” They provide mentoring, networking opportunities, and access to venture capital sources to entrepreneurial endeavors in these huge, high-growth industries.
This particular event was a capital forum which involved eight startups pitching to a room full of angels, VCs, and sports industry executives. Some attendees of note included Andrew Kline, the Founder & Managing Director of Park Lane Investment Banking Services, and Tony Finn, the Founder of Liquid Force, a wakeboarding and kiteboarding brand based in Encinitas.
Two presentations of interest were the Loop’d Network and SportsForce. San Diego based Loop’d Network, a portal and social network for action sports athletes and enthusiasts, spent some time explaining their plans to expand the merchandising and eCommerce functionality of their network. Now that they have built a network of some 500,000 registered athletes and 400 sports related brands, they have decided to focus on targeted advertising and sales. It seems they are attempting to round out the $800,000 they have already raised this year through the newly involved Tech Coast Angels and other existing private investors. These new eCommerce features will go a long way in really rounding out the network to make it a complete experience for their users.
SportsForce (full disclosure: they are a web development client of my company) is a startup with offices in Solana Beach that will be offering a sports platform for high school athletes to build their athletic profile and connect with college coaches and recruiters in hopes to play at the collegiate level and possibly secure a scholarship. Born out of SportsTV, a company that produces recruiting videos and sponsors a variety of sports combines and events, this platform will host a suite of tools to add value for any athlete hoping to play at the collegiate level. Think LinkedIn for athletes. Heavy on premium and user-generated video content, look for SportsForce to make some aggressive moves in the next 12-16 months.
All eight presentations were interesting in their own right, and Connect continues to do a great job promoting the entrepreneurial spirit in San Diego.