leAD – Taking the sporting legacy forward

The family of entrepreneur Adi Dassler is returning to the sports business with the new Accelerator leAD.

leAD stands for the legacy of Adi Dassler. The co-founders and grandsons of Adi Dassler, Dr. Klaus, Horst and Stefan Bente, have committed to leverage their grandfather’s legacy by creating a new platform for sports entrepreneurship and innovation. This legacy and their extensive network in the global sports industry brings together some of the most sought-after experts in the field to fund and nurture remarkable sports startups. This next-generation accelerator model comprises a three-month program providing tightly aligned support for entrepreneurs and a linked fund that will capture value from the accelerator’s leading companies, creating an unprecedented ecosystem for sports innovation value-creation.

Horst Bente, the grandson of Adi Dassler and and co-founder of leAD Sports Accelerator, shares the inspiration behind the pioneering concept: “My grandfather was always driven to support sportsmen and women to improve their performance and to make good ideas great. And that’s precisely why the support of innovative founders is the next logical step of what our grandfather has passed down to us.”

To this end, the brothers, Klaus, Horst and Stefan Bente, have put together a team of investors, start-up and sports industry experts who will support the participating founders with their experience and provide them with access to their networks. A strong group of industry partners, agencies, universities, venture capital providers, coaches and mentors will help startups develop to their full potential during the three months and significantly drive their business plan, prototypes, RTM and pitch forward into the future.

Who can apply?

“Our search field is relatively wide; the start-ups don’t necessarily have to be aimed at the sports market, as long as their product is fitting,” says Horst Bente.

The market isn’t only huge (700 billion US dollars in 2015), but the commercial realm of the sports industry also offers room for a multitude of segments and different business models. As a result, the doors of the leAD Sports Accelerator are open to start-ups in the early stages from the following sectors:

  • Tracking
  • Media and entertainment,
  • Venues and ticketing
  • Fan engagement and merchandise
  • (Connected) equipment and (functional) clothing
  • Gaming and virtual reality
  • New sports or new sport formats
  • Inclusive sport and integration sports

Founders and start-ups can apply to participate in the first phase until 31st May. The selection of participating start-ups will be made at the beginning of July and their first training programme will run from 12th September until 8th December 2017.

“Our grandfather, Adi Dassler, was always driven by the idea of making great sports ideas greater and putting them into action. Today, in his honour, we will support the start-ups in the same way,” says Horst Bente. Talking of the future, he adds, “In 5 years from now, leAD will be globally established as an institution that drives innovation and new business in sports. We’ll take care of a growing portfolio of emerging companies. But next to successful business, for me, it’s equally important to forge a very close relationship with all our entrepreneurs and their teams, just as Adi Dassler always treated the athletes and partners he worked with as a part of our family.”