They weren’t fastballs, but there was a lot of pitching at Busch Stadium on Thursday.
The founders of four sports startups threw their best stuff at investors gathered inside the ballpark. It was Stadia Ventures first demo day.
The St. Louis-based accelerator offers 10-week mentorship for sports entrepreneurs and investments of up to $100,000. Co-founder Art Chou said it’s the right city for the sports innovation hub.
"They always talk about the venture capital community in Boston or Silicon Valley or Austin, and if we tried to do this in any other city we’d be a very, very small player and we would not get community support we get here," Chou said.
That support was on display at Busch Stadium. The event included a panel on leadership with Cardinals president Bill DeWitt III, Rams COO and vice president of football operations Kevin Demoff, and Blue president and CEO Chris Zimmerman.
DeWitt said new technologies are taking place throughout baseball, and the communities where the innovation starts get long-lasting benefits.
"We hope someday we’ll be building an office building in Ballpark Village for one of these companies," he said. "For us it’s a wonderful opportunity to seed and support these young companies, and we’re rooting hard for them to succeed."
The four startups that took part in Stadia Ventures’ first 10-week program were chosen from among 175 applicants. They included:
Fishidy: A map-based fishing social network that provides hot-spot maps, local reports, and tools to help people catch more fish. It’s based in Madison, Wis.
LEIF Tech: The Brooklyn-based startup makes an electric skateboard that moves like a snowboard.
Rookies: Based in St. Louis, Rookie creates fully personalized baseball cards for all of life’s events in the stadium and at social events.
WINNING IDENTITY: The Toronto-based company provides golf software solutions that bring all things golf to one centralized location.
Some of the companies are already partnering with sports companies, including WINNING IDENTITY, which is working with the Golf Channel. Will McIntosh, senior vice president of strategy at the Golf Channel & Golf Now said established companies are seeking more innovation, and Stadia Ventures is tapping into that need.
"I think you’re going to see a trend in that direction, but this is definitely one of the first," McIntosh said.
Stadia is accepting applications for its next group of entrepreneurs through December. The 10-week program will go from March into May.
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