SFIA hosts 4th annual Start-Up Challenge, showcasing latest innovations in sports, fitness and technology
BALTIMORE, MD (Sept. 25, 2019) – Five finalists competed in the 2019 SFIA Start-Up Challenge this morning, kicking off the Industry Leaders Summit. The five entrepreneurs receive 10 minutes on stage, in front of the entire Summit audience, as well as a distinguished panel of judges, to pitch their company. Judges include leading industry executives, such as Erik Anderson, Executive Chairman of Topgolf, and Head of Marketing & Product Management at Amazon, Brian Finegan; investors such as Alison Minter from North Castle Partners and Brian Westbrook, former All-Pro NFL Running Back and venture capitalist; and innovators such as SVP of lululemon Whitespace, Tom Waller, and Head of Innovation at Under Armour, Lorin Hamlin.
The Start-Up Challenge winner, Miro, is a company rooted in computer vision and artificial intelligence. Miro has created complex algorithms to capture valuable athlete data from various athletic competitions, such as races and sporting events. The tech geniuses behind the start-up have figured out a way to manipulate each participant, individually, segmenting their body into 14 different images, which are then individually analyzed and run through brand detection software. This type of AI provides insights to brands and retailers, picking up in-depth trends and patterns, regarding apparel and equipment, among many different demographic breakdowns, such as age, gender and ability.
Empirika Media Group provided the grand prize of $25,000 worth of digital marketing services, helping to improve the company’s online presence and overall image.
“SFIA has assembled this industry in a room, focused their attention and given a great group of small companies the chance of a lifetime,” said Taylor Host, Co-Founder and CEO of Miro. “We’re thrilled at the opportunity to share our hard work with the titans of the industry. To actually take home the trophy tonight is incomprehensible. We’re going to turn this validation into energy, action and more great nerd stuff!”
Prior to competition kickoff, former Start-Up Challenge finalist from the first-ever competition, Steven Webster, CEO of asensei, addressed the crowd, speaking of his start-up experience and raising capital on-site at the Industry Leaders Summit, regardless of not winning. Through his experience, Webster explained one of his greatest lessons, “It’s not the biggest companies that eat the smallest, it’s the fastest that eats the slowest.” His technology-driven company has skyrocketed since he presented on the SFIA stage in 2016, and serves as an example of what the other 15 previous contestants have accomplished.
It was difficult to select just one winner, as all participants presented new and exciting products, including automated team uniforms, a portable tennis ball launcher, wearable technology to enhance fitness through resistance, and computer vision assets to improve your workout experience and efficiency. The ideas and products presented were unprecedented and are sure to create an impact on the industry.
“We are so proud of the SFIA Start-Up Challenge franchise and are excited by the major innovation we saw this year,” said John Peters, Vice President of Business Development at SFIA. “This competition is in high-demand, due to the many benefits provided by merely attending the conference and networking with leading industry executives and investors, looking to create new relationships, partnerships and mentorships.”
The audience, in addition to the judges, featured over 200 C-Level executives from companies such as adidas, Amazon, Nike, Under Armour, Brooks Running, Walmart and many more. This presentation format allows the entrepreneurs to grow their brand awareness among the right audience and in the right setting.
ABOUT SFIA: The Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA), the #1 source for sport and fitness research, is the leading global trade association of manufacturers, retailers, and marketers in the sports products and fitness industry. SFIA seeks to promote sports and fitness participation, as well as industry vitality through research, thought leadership, public affairs, industry affairs and member services. For more information, please visit www.sfia.org.