A new startup pitch competition is testing founders who are making innovation strides to advance sports technology, communication, and safety.
The National Football League and General Electric, in partnership with the Texas Medical Center this year, created the 1st and Future competition to develop new technologies to help football players and other athletes train and succeed in their sport.
Over 200 startups applied for the opportunity to speak to key influencers in the field, including VCs, athletes, and innovation leaders. Elevety was one of nine who made it to the final round, and one of three finalists in the “Communicating with the Athlete” category.
“The entire event took place between February 1–4,” says Elevety co-founder Sebastian Koper. “All nine participating teams were flown down, all expenses paid by the NFL.”
The teams had packed days throughout the event, at the epicentre of the sports world, days before the Superbowl.
“The first day consisted of an introductory meet-and-greet with the teams, Texas Medical Center (TMC), and the NFL,” he says. “The next two days involved practice pitching before a panel of mock judges including VCs, entrepreneurs, TMC staff, medical professionals—due to the focus on safety by the NFL—and representatives from the NFL itself. The purpose of these rounds was to provide feedback on our presentation, messaging, content, and delivery. Teams were able to refine the material between practice rounds.”
After days of preparation and networking, the Elevety team presented to the panel, able to showcase their product on a level they hadn’t presented on before.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t win,” says Sebastian, “but we did have a few takeaways. The event was a great way to rapidly test how much traction our communications device—originally developed for outdoor sports like skiing—has in the team sports market. We had the opportunity to meet influencers and leaders in marquee sports organizations like the NFL and the US Olympic team, and were able to discover how to further hone our message as a company before audiences like investors and sports teams.”
Elevety was one of two companies presenting real-time communication between individuals, such as between a teammate and a coach, and were the only Canadian team who made the finals. Although they didn’t win the grand prize, Sebastian says they left feeling proud of their product.
“Our solution stands apart from the rest of the group, as it’s completely hands-free, it allows full-duplex communications—meaning you can talk and listen at the same time, like a phone—and it’s fully modular. You can readily remove and install the device onto any helmet giving the user ultimate flexibility.”
“Feedback all-around was very positive,” he says, “and we will continue to pursue efforts to address team sports application.”