Canada’s First Sports & Media Accelerator Launches


Innovative and disruptive technologies are having a huge impact on every industry. This includes the sports and media sectors in which startups are changing the rules of engagement.

In the sports world, startups are taking new approaches to how fans experience live events, how they engage with teams and players, and how teams develop new ways to share content and drive new revenue.

In the media world, new technologies to consume and create content are having a huge  impact on how people see the world and contribute to shaping the news.

Given all this industry-changing activity, we’re excited about the official launch Zone Startups Sports + Media (ZSSM). It is Canada’s first accelerator focused on sports and media-related startups.

Last weekend, we unveiled ZSSM by having 12 sports startups showcase their technology to attendees that included National Basketball Executive executives, who were visiting Toronto for the NBA’s annual all-star game.

The startups included Tiny Hearts, Crowdbabble, Videogami, Brizi, RightBlue, LiveGauge, Stathletes, PUSH, Open Sports, Onyx Motion and Flybits.

“It was a great opportunity for startups to showcase their services to industry leaders with a keen interest in innovative technologies,” said Matt Saunders, president with Ryerson Futures. “They were impressed by how many of the startups already had professional sports teams as customers.”

Saunders said the accelerator, which will operate within The DMZ, was created to reflect Ryerson Futures’ interest in supporting verticals where startups can have a major impact.

ZSSM will support startups with market validation and customer acquisition, and connect them with a global network of mentors, advisors, and strategic partners. For high-potential startups, it will also provide seed financing and help them with later rounds.

ZSSM is the second accelerator to be created by Ryerson Futures. Two years ago, we launched Zone Startups India in partnership with the Bombay Stock Exchange. To date, more than 60 startups have participated in the program and collectively raised more than $25-million.

“The success of Zone Startups India illustrates the success of the accelerator model that we have developed,” Saunders said. “It’s a unique combination of supporting startups, working with corporations that want to explore new and innovative ideas, and providing seed capital to the most promising startups. It’s a model attracting growing attention around the world”.

ZSSM will be led by Mike Cotton, who comes from a background in sports management and analytics with professional and amateur hockey organizations in the U.S. and Canada. Cotton said being able to help nurture sports startups is an exciting opportunity. “Technology is beginning to have a huge impact on the sports industry,” he said. “The launch of the accelerator is going to give startups the ability to jump-start their development.”

If you’re a startup that wants to apply for the program or a corporation interested in partnership opportunities, let us know.