FRISCO — Imagine a sensor that measures how much you sweat and whether you need water or electrolytes to finish a race in top form.
Or a video game that monitors your brain health and possible changes after an injury.
Or a technology that boosts your ability to make split-second decisions in the heat of competition.
The people behind these and other cutting-edge ideas visited Frisco this week as part of a program that connects sports innovation with industry. And what better place to converge with the world of sports than this Collin County suburb. Once voted the best place to raise an athlete, Frisco is home to several professional teams and an array of amateur and youth sports offerings.
"It’s a very family-friendly, sports driven, innovation driven kind of town," said Tim Hayden, co-founder and managing director of Stadia Ventures. "We’ve found religion down here."
St. Louis-based Stadia Ventures offers a business accelerator program for sports startups. It vetted about 200 applications before selecting those best-suited for its 12-week spring program and bringing them to visit Frisco.
There’s Pico.Buzz, which helps teams build one-on-one relationships with fans through social media platforms like Facebook Messenger and Instagram.
Reely uses software to capture video highlights within seconds of the play on the field for immediate social sharing.
Gym Dandy uses technology so that booking sports fields and venues is as easy as booking a hotel room.
Frisco high school football players are already familiar with the work of VNTANA, which created the holograms to unveil the teams’ new uniforms last year. That is just the beginning of the capabilities of this augmented reality platform.
"We believe nothing happens unless it is shared socially," said Natascha French, the company’s chief marketing officer.
Want to serve a ball to tennis great Roger Federer in hologram form, have him return it and capture the moment on video? VNTANA did that.
‘A Snapchat world’
The Texas trip was hosted by LaunchPad City, which works with startups and has been in talks to bring a branch of Stadia Ventures to town. Its vision focuses around sports and e-sports.
"We see technology and sports converging at a speed never seen before," LaunchPad City co-founder Nahid Giga said.
The hope is that the connections made through the Frisco trip will not only help these small startups but also bring some of their offerings to fans, families and athletes here.
The two-day visit included tours of venues such as The Star in Frisco, Dr Pepper Arena and Dr Pepper Ballpark. The group met with Frisco Economic Development Corp. president Jim Gandy, Frisco RoughRiders owner Chuck Greenberg, Dallas Stars CEO Jim Lites and Michael Hitchcock, CEO of the Professional Futsal League.
Lites told the entrepreneurs that sports teams recognize they have to reach their fans in different ways and become more relevant with today’s short attention spans.
"I marvel at what technology has done," Lites said. "We are a Snapchat world."
Dallas Stars CEO Jim Lites talks with entrepreneurs as part of a business accelerator program offered through Stadia Ventures.