Investing in esports is a relatively new phenomenon among traditional investors but has gained significant traction in recent years. Amid angel investors and celebrities, esports has seen a flux of investment from traditional sports pros, and for a good reason.
While still in its infancy, Esports proved itself to be adaptable in the face of a pandemic, appeals to multiple demographics, and extends beyond video games to include lifestyle and entertainment.
Alex Chalmers, the Managing Partner at Stadia Ventures, gives us a peek behind the curtain to see how leaders in the sports and esports space are driving innovation, monetization, and diversity.
Q: Tell us – who is Stadia Ventures?
A: Stadia is very simply an accelerator that turned into a growth fund. We invest in startups — to drive and accelerate businesses and help them grow. We create many events each year to spotlight the startups we have and lean into some of our C-Suite industry friends who are leaders in sports, esports, and business that can curate panels to get some great conversation.
We’ve invested in close to 60 startups over six and a half years and have seen over 3,500 global applications in 92 countries. We focus primarily on sport, but sport for us is very broad — that combines human wellness, wearables within healthcare, fan engagement & customer experience, sports betting (especially around the last 12-18 months in the US with the changes in legislation), and then esports and gaming.
Simple message – We aim to help “good” entrepreneurs get in front of “good” industry people.
Q: What can you tell us about the Stadia Ventures Accelerator Program?
A: We run two accelerators a year [that involves] a significant application process. We’ll have literally hundreds of applicants come in, and we’ll go through our internal due diligence to effectively get that down from 400 to a top 10. We then run a finalist pitch day event which is “Shark Tank” on steroids.
We’re blessed that we’ve seen a large number of applications, about 50% outside of North America. Thirty-seven percent of our portfolio is made up of female or minority founders.
Instead of four “sharks” in a room, we will put our top 10 companies in front of hundreds of C-Suite leaders. In January, we had over 450 of them in sports and esports that were judging our startups.
We then select five companies to go into our cohort process. We invest up to $100k in those companies, and they go into a 14-week “cohort” program. We do in 14 weeks what a company will take 14 months or longer to establish. This process runs twice a year.
Q: How can people attend the next Stadia Ventures Esports Innovation Summit?
A: Each year we spotlight various areas of our business. Our upcoming event is our esports-focused innovation summit. We want to highlight topics that are happening in the industry, especially the amateur side. We try to facilitate good conversations on relevant topics among good people and have good people come along and hopefully learn something along the way.
First, we’ve got a State of the Industry talk with Wim Stocks, Head of Partnerships & Commercial at Belong Gaming & Vindex. He’s an absolute rock star and legend within esports in North America.
We’ve also got an “Amateur esports” panel run with Discord, Tournament Kings, ESL Gaming, and Team Liquid. We then went to a “Global Startups” panel, represented by Alpha Esports in the U.S. (a Stadia portfolio company), ESPO in the U.K., and the MNC Group from Indonesia.
We’ve also got a chat with one of our friends Brian Mirakian, Senior Principal at Populous on infrastructure across esports. Finally, we’re bringing in some rock stars around a “Leading Women in Esports” panel where we’ve got Riot Games, 100 Thieves, and E.A. coming in to speak.
To learn more about Stadia Ventures, visit their website and go HERE to attend the Esports Innovation Summit on July 15.
In collaboration with HB Duran