SFIA Launches 4th Annual Start-Up Challenge

SFIA Will Select Five Finalists to Highlight Small Business Innovation in Sport

SILVER SPRING, MD (June 25, 2019) – After hosting 16 start-ups over the last three years, the SFIA Start-Up Challenge returns to SFIA’s annual Industry Leaders Summit on September 25, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. This competition, which garners national media attention, has created an unparalleled opportunity for start-ups in the sports and fitness industry. From a pool of hundreds of applicants, from all over the world, the top five most innovative, forward-thinking companies are selected to compete on the big stage. Each of the five finalists pitch their business to the entire Industry Leaders Summit audience, as well as a judging panel comprised of major industry leaders and investors, including executives from lululemon, Topgolf, Amazon, Intel Capital, Under Armour and Walmart.

“We are thrilled to bring back the SFIA Startup Challenge for a 4th consecutive year,” said John Peters, SFIA Vice President of Business Development. “It is equally exciting to see the overwhelming demand for a platform like this, and the myriad of innovations we’ve seen from early stage companies in our industry. We’ve worked hard to create a diverse group of executives to serve on the judges panel, and they are all excited to provide mentorship, feedback and other opportunities to entreprenuers. In years past, we’ve seen companies raise capital on site, form brand partnerships and create relationships that have been conducive to business. We’re excited to create an even bigger impact this year for small business and innovation for our industry.”

This year’s grand prize is provided by the SFIA Start-Up Challenge sponsor, Empirika Media Group Inc., featuring $25,000 worth of Empirika digital services, allowing the winner to choose from four different digital branding, marketing and product development categories to enhance their business and online presence. In addition, the winner will also receive one free year of SFIA membership and spotlights in 2020 Start-Up Challenge marketing and promotional materials.

“The SFIA Start-Up Challenge represents an incredible opportunity for forward leaning start-ups to obtain a high degree of industry visibility, leadership mindshare and potential for investment,” said Empirika Founder and CEO, Joel den Engelsen. “We’re excited by the sponsorship opportunity and look forward to providing the winner with world-class digital services.”

All finalists will receive complimentary registration for the Industry Leaders Summit, taking place on September 25-26, 2019 at the Baltimore Four Seasons Hotel. The Start-Up Challenge offers great exposure to all finalists, not only the winner, as each company presents on stage in front of the Summit audience, which largely consists of C-level executives, as well as a carefully-selected panel of judges. Aside from the Start-Up Challenge, the five finalists are encouraged to participate in all networking opportunities, discussions and presentations provided throughout the two-day event.

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.


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