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At the center of the Global Sport Institute’s mission is “to support interdisciplinary research and innovation that examines critical issues impacting sport and all those connected to sport.” We have remained strongly committed to the pursuit of inspiring innovative thinking to positively shape the future of sport. Our work in the space is best exemplified through our venture funding opportunities and partnership with ASU Entrepreneurship + Innovation and Venture Devils.
Our two main venture competitions are the Global Sport Social Impact Challenge (GSSIC) and the Global Sport Venture Challenge (GSVC). The first challenge was created to support cultivated ideas that positively change the world using sport as a platform. Whereas, the second challenge is designed to help ASU-affiliated entrepreneurs grow their early-stage, sport-related product or service ventures. Winning ventures from each are eligible to receive grants and guided mentorship through our partnership with ASU Entrepreneurship and Innovation. In addition to the chance to compete for seed grants biannually (each fall and spring semester) on ‘Demo Days,’ students pursuing this track who become ‘Demo Day’ winners also qualify for a coveted chance to win a trip to the adidas North American headquarters in Portland, Oregon for an immersive experience.
Our 2018-2019 winners took their trip in early June with a total of three teams spending two full days at the adidas Portland, Oregon campus. Trip highlights included a behind-the-scenes tour of the national headquarters, one-on-one coaching sessions with adidas executives matching their interests, and a guided “creator experience” in the adidas Makers Lab.
Two of the three selected ventures surrounded our 2019 academic theme of ‘Sport and the Body,’ while the third focused on a traditional regarded international sport looking to grow and break into the U.S. mainstream sport market.
To learn about their time with adidas, we asked each venture to share a little bit more about the valuable takeaways from the visit. Below is our Q & A with one of the three winning ventures, Force Impact Technologies.
1st place winner at the 2019 Global Sport Summit in March, 2019. Awarded $10k + Trip to Adidas HQ.
Bio: “The FITGuard™ aims to solve the problem of athletes returning to play when there is a high probability of head-injury. Our innovative device significantly increases the likelihood of early detection and the overall safety of athletes around the globe." (Source: Force Impact Technologies)
At Force Impact Technologies (FIT), everything we do we do because we believe in making sports safer, without altering the sports themselves. We believe that sports, now more than ever, play a vital role in helping kids develop. Sports teach kids how to win and lose, how to be a part of a team, how sacrifice can bring improvement, and (perhaps most importantly these days) sports get kids away from screens and up and moving around!
With regards to the FITGuard, it was born out of a conversation between Anthony and I about a concussion he suffered while playing rugby at ASU. The outcome of the conversation was that we need a better way to understand what's happening with regards to athletes' head health. I mean, we count how many steps we take in a day but not how often or how hard we get hit in the head? That's crazy! We set out to find a solution. As athletes, we wanted something that could be worn by an athlete of either sex, in any sport. We arrived at a mouthguard.
We are very much in the start-up stage. It means we have all of the problems of the other stages, without any of the infrastructure! Anthony, Susie, and I wear a lot of hats. We're seeing out first units going out into the market and validating that our product is ready to be produced on a large scale. It means that every problem is "all hands on deck," but it's okay because we work amazingly well as a team.
The trip to adidas was incredible for us! For one, just to get to experience their culture for two days was amazing. Anthony and I came back energized! It was like seeing the ideal version of where we'd like to see FIT in a few years. Not in terms of the size, scale, and diversity of product offerings (we certainly don't plan on making shoes!), but more in the sense for how their various teams come together to solve problems and take on new challenges.
On a more direct note, we made some great connections and have already followed up to look at the potential for FIT to collaborate with adidas in the near future. Who's to say if it will happen, but one thing is for sure, we've only got the opportunity to find out because of the Global Sport Institute.
Our biggest takeaway was that there are a lot of people out there like us (with a passion for sports and an eye on the future) and they're not all startup founders. Prior to the visit, we'd always been kind of cautious about engaging with some of the larger
brands, because it was such an unknown for us. However, after meeting the teams at adidas, seeing their campus, and learning about their culture, it changed our perception of how we may be able to engage with a company like them moving forward. Adidas, if you're reading this, we are IN! : )
Slow and steady wins the race. We've made the connections, and the team from adidas was excited. However, they are ADIDAS! We aren't even a blip on their radar. We know the heavy lifting is on us and we have to work to validate that we bring enough value to the table for them to want to engage their best in class brand. The goal is to keep working through the validation process of getting the FITGuard to athletes and working to demonstrate to Adidas that we bring the value we say we do. We are confident that we can show those benefits, and hope that adidas will agree, but it's on us.
We cannot thank ASU & GSI enough for the opportunity. Since engaging with the GSI team, we've had several great opportunities that otherwise would probably never have been possible. Having access to something like the Global Sport Institute is so valuable to startups because it connects us with people that know a heck of a lot more than we do!
We'd also like to give a special shout out to Jeff Kunowski of the GSI for all of the work he puts in and for making so much of this possible. Go Devils!
For more on Force Impact Technologies, visit their website: https://www.fitguard.me/
Do you have a business idea that can change the world of sport? For more information on how to participate in the Global Sport Institute’s biannual venture challenges with ASU Entrepreneurship + Innovation, visit the Global Sport Institute website, or check out the links below: