SFIA’s 7th annual Start-Up Challenge highlighted the latest innovations in sports and fitness technology, products, and services.
(October 12, 2023) – The Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) is excited to announce that the winner of the 2023 SFIA Start-Up Challenge is Reeplayer. Reeplayer, led by Founder Orhan Basak Ajredinovski, uses AI technology to autonomously record and live-stream high-quality footage for youth and amateur sports. The winner was selected after a several-month selection process, culminating in a live session that took place on Tuesday, October 10 with ten finalist companies answering questions from more than 120 judges from around the industry.
“Winning the 2023 SFIA Start-Up Challenge and our recent partnership with MLS Innovation Labs is an exciting honor for Reeplayer,” says Orhan Basak Ajredinovski. “It validates the urgency in the market to modernize sports media and recruitment.”
Reeplayer’s cutting-edge AI technology positions them as a premium and affordable, solution in an $80 billion emerging market. With more than a billion hours of sports footage uncaptured every year from 23 million teams, Reeplayer aims to standardize personalized sports content and data for consumers and businesses.
“Video is the currency of credibility and the backbone of the sports economy,” states Basak Ajredinovski. “It is an asset that transforms hidden talent into recognized potential and drives recruitment, analysis, fan engagement, and revenue streams across the entire ecosystem. This is a pivotal moment for sports and I am excited for the next generation of athletes.”
Reeplayer’s founder, Orhan, is a textbook soccer fanatic. He started playing in the Galatasaray Pro Academy, went on to win CIF and State with his high school team in the U.S., then played college soccer, and pursued a professional career in Sweden and Turkey. He received a degree in User Experience Research and Design and specialized in building technology products. His inspiration for autonomous sports recording came after learning of a college athlete needing footage to show recruiters – the same problem Orhan had experienced himself a decade before. After a year and a half of market and field research, Reeplayer was formally launched in 2021 with the aim to standardize personalized sports content and data for consumers and businesses.
“On behalf of SFIA and the Board of Directors, we want to congratulate Reeplayer for winning the 2023 event in a very strong competition,” said Tom Cove, President & CEO, SFIA. “Reeplayer has encompassed what the industry is constantly seeking – new technology and innovation to support young athletes – by providing the resources and tools for underrepresented talent and enabling them to gain opportunities to succeed further in their sport.”
In preparation for this event, finalist entrepreneurs submitted pitch videos and investment profiles to our cohort of over 120 judges. The finalists each received 15 minutes of live Q&A, moderated by Craig Beaker from Holland & Hart LLP, allowing the judges to better understand each company and make their final evaluations. The judging panel was made up of executives from leading sports and fitness companies, leagues, and investors such as Implus, NHL, Gildan, Rawlings, Riddell, Spalding, Holland & Hart, U.S. Soccer, and more.
As the grand prize winner, Reeplayer will receive media coverage, a spotlight in one of SFIA’s annual research reports, attendance and recognition at an SFIA event, and a judge seat for the 2024 SFIA Start-Up Challenge. All ten finalists who participated will be given personal introductions to industry decision-makers and executives as well as one year of SFIA membership.
Click here to learn more about Reeplayer.
The 2023 Start-Up Challenge runners-up were Betterguards Technology and Supersapiens, in what turned out to be a very competitive contest. The other finalists who participated were SPRYNG, WearBands, Passback, NuShoulder, MyStrongCircle, ZAMA Health, and Solecooler.
“All of our finalists really exemplified the exciting developments within our industry,” states Cove. “The SFIA is proud to provide a platform to support the contributions of these inventive minds who are paving the path forward for the next generation of the industry.”
SFIA will continue hosting the Start-Up Challenge in 2024 to provide the opportunity for more innovative and determined entrepreneurs. Interested start-ups should check back in early spring of 2024 at sfia.org for more information on participating.
For more on the Start-Up Challenge, visit www.sfiastartupchallenge.org.
If you are interested in an interview with the Start-Up Challenge winner or any of the finalists, please contact Lisa Futterman at [email protected].
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 sfia.org.