At first glance, one might look at a ‘Masterclass in Sports Entrepreneurship’ and think it’s a young John W Henry of Fenway or brothers Adi and Rudolph Dassler hunkered in a room, bringing to life a childhood passion, or taking cobbling to a whole new level, resulting in what are now two of the worlds’ biggest brands in Adidas and Puma, but the reality is much closer to home.
Last Friday 21st September, SportsTech Ireland brought together some of Ireland’s most hungry and innovative sports and business minds with the soon-to-be view of marrying sports and business on a much more regular basis, not only here but on a global scale.
In a society where there is a constant debate over whether GAA needs to go professional, where there is debate over whether the IRFU can hold on to players at the mercy of French euros, there is no doubt that the commerce of sport will be changing rapidly over the next few years. But will this be rooted in the first ‘Masterclass in Sports Entrepreneurship’?
SportsTech Ireland brought together attendees from some of Ireland’s leading sports organisations, as well as those who are in the infancy of their business. and led discussions on both sport and business, intertwined and not, and how this can yield real commercial value for those who aim to set the world alight.
Big or small a venture, there was certainly value to be yielded from the speakers across Friday, as concepts such as product design were tackled by Dr Adam De Eyto and Bernard Hartigan of UL, athlete mentorship and investment was broached by for Irish Rugby international Jamie Heaslip and his long-time mentor and advisor Joe Hogan of Openet Telecom, and the world of tech fitness for women, and how a mobile app can yield mass results at great pace was delivered to resounding applause from Gráinne Conefrey of ORRECO.
As SportsTech Ireland say themselves, ‘sports entrepreneurs are people who enact ideas, information and practices for the purpose of engaging in a business venture’. This is true of even the one-man-band, as keynote speaker Sam McCleery, VP Open Innovation and Commercialisation at Under Armour spoke at length about. Under Armour’s Kevin Plank was once upon a time a college footballer who saw a problem, and sought to solve it, all from his grandmother’s home in Georgetown. 22 years on, and Plank’s native state Maryland is still the home of now one of the world’s biggest sports brands.
With the work of SportsTech Ireland, the graduates being produced across Ireland’s universities and the appetite across the country to now drive forward, there is no reason why Limerick, Dublin, Galway or any other hub cannot be Ireland’s Maryland. The rapid investment and growth in Ireland, with the likes of STATS in Limerick or STATSports in Newry, are evidence that the talent pool is there, and that the budding entrepreneurial buzz brewing in digital hubs and coffee shops across the nation will no doubt produce new age sports tech like no other.
Senior Consultant – Sales, Marketing & Sports
Mason Alexander Sports