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Dodgers Accelerator with R/GA: Bringing the Human Element to the Sports Startup World

This article is powered by the SMU Sport Management Program.

The Dodgers Accelerator with R/GA is the gold standard when it comes to sports startup accelerators. Photo via R/GA

By: Adam White, @FOSAdam

Ask any investor or entrepreneur what the most important aspect of a successful startup is and you will most likely get a response to the tune of, “The people.”

No matter how many emails you send, how many Slack giphys you receive or how many LinkedIn connections you sift through, nothing replaces the human element and no one knows that better than Dylan Boyd, Director, New Programs Development, R/GA Ventures and Scott Dudelson, Dodgers Accelerator Managing Director.

As two of the key members in the development and growth of the Dodgers Accelerator with R/GA, they, along with their team, have brought the human element to the startup space in a way that has seen the partnership between the Dodgers, R/GA and the companies associated with the program elevated to new heights.

At the Dodgers Accelerator with R/GA, it is all about a hands on approach. Photo via R/GA

Now in its second year, the Dodgers Accelerator with R/GA, a breakthrough program in the sports and tech startup space, welcomes its second class of companies. After an extensive application program, the five companies selected, which include Greenfly, Keemotion, Renegade, ShotTracker and WSC got to work in late August in Los Angeles in preparation for their November 10th Demo Event.

Though these 90 days are a grueling test for all the teams involved, the team at R/GA wants to make sure that none of that time is wasted.

“One thing we really try to do is make sure that by the time they hit the ground in our LA office, there is really no ‘get to know you time.’ We make sure we dig in with them those first weeks and that we are bringing in the right corporate leaders and executives for them to meet and learn from,” said Dudelson.

One of the biggest pride points of the Dodgers Accelerator with R/GA is the true hands-on approach they take with each company, something not seen at most startup accelerators across the world.

“It is not a traditional investment program or a traditional accelerator. It is more of a venture studio model where, we are setting KPIs and goals and are holding ourselves just as accountable as we are holding the founders. It really makes for an interesting two-way street,” said Boyd.

“A lot of investment corporations write a check and say, ‘Hey, we will be here for some phone calls,’ whereas, we really roll up our sleeves and do everything we can to help these companies.”

One of the biggest perks of the Dodgers Accelerator with R/GA is the connections the two entities bring to the startups. Photo via R/GA

When it comes to creating the best program for these companies to thrive, the Dodgers and R/GA were a match that only Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups could rival as Boyd puts it.

“This came together with the executive ownership team of the Los Angeles Dodgers. They looked at their organization and the sports industry and identified an opportunity to combine emerging technologies with their expansive network to push the boundaries on what was possible in the world of sports innovation.”

“We (R/GA) had worked with them on some digital projects and the conversation started from there. We knew what we could do for them and they knew what they could do for us. Coming together was like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, we wanted to merge the best of both worlds.”

Regardless of how well the Dodgers and R/GA mesh, in order for the companies in the program to find the success they are looking for, it comes down to the people who are leading them and the problems they are solving.

Also, as Dudelson puts it, it is not always just about the founder, but the whole team.

“It is not just the founder, it is the founding team and the early team that surround the founder that dictate whether a startup is going to succeed or fail.”

During the course of the program, the startup teams get the chance to learn from industry leaders. Photo via R/GA

If a monetary investment and the commitment of time and expertise from the likes of Boyd and Dudelson wasn’t enough, R/GA provides the startups in the program with agency services, the most critical part of the partnership according to Boyd. These can include expertise as diverse as business consulting, experience design, branding and technology services.

“The startups in the program have four to eight person teams at their disposal to help them with everything R/GA specializes in.”

“One of the most unique aspects is that we have a global presentations team that comes in and helps them build, refine and create not only pitch decks, but sales decks while making sure their message is clear and impactful.”

Over a year ago, the Dodgers and R/GA pioneered the sports team and accelerator integration and since then, the 76ers have jumped on board with more teams coming.

“It is not a traditional investment program or a traditional accelerator.”

— Dylan Boyd

Regardless of how many join the fray, the Dodgers and R/GA’s approach will remain the gold standard.

Want to learn more about the Dodgers Accelerator with R/GA? Visit their website here!

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