News broke last week that the grandchildren of the sportswear legend Adi Dassler, the man behind Adidas, have banded together for the Legacy of Adi Dassler (leAD) Accelerator.
This is a chance for young entrepreneurs and start-ups involved in sports (esports included) to some degree to take part in a comprehensive 12 week program offering business guidance from a number of industry veterans. There is also a €25,000 (£21,721) investment up for grabs for the victor. We caught up with Nathalie Sonne, Head of Program at leAD, as well as Horst Bente, Director and Co-Founder leAD Sports Accelerator and one of Adi’s grandchildren.
Esports Insider: Being based in Berlin, we can presume you’re expecting a wave of applications from esports focused companies?
Nathalie: Yes, exactly! We expect a lot of applications from tech startups and have already received a number of applications from esports startups.
Esports Insider: What do you want to see from the applications and how can potential start-ups stand out?
Nathalie: A team that is focused and willing to become leaders and able to shape the future of sports. Of course, a great product is important, but we also want them to grow and to be willing to develop and always improve their product or service. Last but not least: passion for sports should also be in their DNA, just as it is rooted in ours.
Esports Insider: Which sector are you anticipating the most submissions in? The tech and data space around esports is particularly active, whilst many are anticipating that the apparel battle (for team deals) will take place in earnest this year…
Nathalie: The deadline for submissions is May 31. We will be able to say more about the sectors in June. We are excited through our application process to gather information about what sectors are most ripe to leverage the power of sports verticals.
Esports Insider: Are start-ups that have been around a while better placed than those in the ‘early stages’? How do you categorise this and what constitutes a start-up as far as this is concerned?
Nathalie: We are looking for both: early stage startups, founders and founders to be from around the world; anyone with a great idea that is not yet founded. Equally we want startups that have been active for a while already and are looking to step up their game.
Esports Insider: This is just the first leAD accelerator?
Nathalie: Yes, this is the first leAD Sports Accelerator, but we have planned two more for 2018. We will also expand to the US.
Esports Insider: You’ve some high profile figures on board as mentors and partners, how closely will they be involved with the ten finalists in the aftermath of the program?
Nathalie: They will continue to support the finalists. The leAD organisation will have 8% equity and as such a natural and vested interest in supporting them in their future success.
Esports Insider: What do you think Adi Dassler would have made of esports?
Horst: Adi Dassler was passionate about sports above all. He was always looking for innovation and wanted to help athletes by improving their equipment. So we think he would be supporting all the fields connected to innovation – including esports – and helping athletes: analytics and sensors, tools to help trainers and athletes to increase performance, health and recreation among others.
In a way Adi Dassler invented the modern sports industry some 60 years ago. By focusing on his customers (the athletes) and their needs, using new technologies, craftsmanship and his obsession for details, he created a global brand and industry. He is a role model for all young people who have the spirit of entrepreneurship and who believe in themselves and in innovation.