It’s been a few weeks since we held our official SPORTS TECH TOKYO (STT) kickoff event in Tokyo. While the team is already busy planning for another upcoming event in a few weeks to welcome the finalists who have been chosen to enter the 3-month intensive mentoring program, we wanted to share some highlights from the kickoff that went above and beyond expectations.
The goal of STT is to bring together a diverse sports tech industry that is fragmented by geography, stage, and areas of focus. By working with the best-in-class companies from around the world and partnering with major Japanese corporations interested in innovation, we’re creating a community that is ready to take advantage of Japan as the center of sports over the next few years with major sports events such as the upcoming 2019 Rugby World Cup and 2020 Summer Olympic Games.
104 sports tech startups flew in from over 19 countries to attend the STT kickoff. Adding in mentors, partners, advisors, and sponsors, there were over 500 attendees. Dentsu’s event team did a fabulous job of setting up the venue at BaseQ in Hibiya, Tokyo. After traditional celebratory mochi pounding on stage by a sumo player (!), the event opened with Fumihiko Nakajima from Dentsu, Tak Miyata and Michael Proman from Scrum Ventures breaking a barrel of sake to be shared.
We were honored to have opening remarks by Daichi Suzuki, Commissioner of the Japan Sports Agency, who expressed the Japanese government’s support of innovation in the sports world.
But the bulk of the kickoff schedule was about making connections and building relationships. To that end, participating startups had the opportunity to pitch their companies to partners, mentors, sponsors, and media both as a formal presentation and at the over 560 one-on-one meetings we set up.
With mentors and advisors such as Eric Mastalir, Senior Director of Innovation and Business Development at Nike, Tracy Deforge, Founder at The Players’ Impact, and James Rushton, Chief Revenue Officer of DAZN, we knew there was a wealth of experience and knowledge everyone could tap into. So we also organized round tables where attendees could gather to discuss unique topics of choice.
We’ve received very positive feedback from attendees who have secured meetings and conversations with Japanese partners because of the networking they did at the kickoff. The event was covered by key media like NHK, Forbes, THE BRIDGE, and Dentsuho. The Dentsu team got to meet and learn about the various companies, and together with Scrum Ventures, have announced the 12 finalists who will now enter the 3-month mentorship program to develop proof-of-concept demos which will be presented in August at Oracle Park in San Francisco.
Last but not least, we couldn’t be more proud of the Scrum Ventures team who worked hard to ensure the event went smoothly. With pitches, 560 meetings, and interviews of all companies to coordinate, the team knocked it out of the ballpark. We had a team in Tokyo at the event, but our team back in San Francisco also worked Japan hours to ensure every last detail was addressed quickly. Our small team did a phenomenal job. Stay tuned to hear more about World Demo Day in August!