Sports Business/03/30/2021

9 Expert Tips for Your Start-up Breakthrough

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Step on the gas with your own start-up, shake up the industry with new ideas and approaches? The start-up scene is an important part of the sports business and repeatedly triggers decisive developments. The best newcomers present themselves every year at ISPO Brandnew. The importance of the award is shown by the former winners who are shaping the market today - including companies like GoPro, Evoc, Naish Kites, Maloja, Nixon, and On.

9 expert tips for success with your own start-up.

You have good ideas yourself and want to take the next big step? We asked some of the 2020 finalists and the international jury of experts about the secrets of success. Here are 9 tips for your way forward.

Don't get distracted!

There are so many opportunities today and so many different fields you can be active in - it's often hard to stay focused. A good idea is only the beginning, after that comes the tough detail work.

- Luise Wunner, SensuSport, Brandnew Jury & ISPO Brandnew Winner 2020

Know your target group!

Talk to your clients from the beginning. Partner companies, consultants, manufacturers and last but not least you, the designers yourselves, often have different ideas. In the end, however, it's the customers' input that shows the right way.

- Lukas Angst, Founder Keego, ISPO Brandnew Winner 2020

Play on your homeground

Crucial for a sports startup is to understand the game really well and know what details make the difference. Without really knowing the sport or practicing it yourself, you are unlikely to create the most impactful innovation in this industry.

- Alexander Hjertström, Founder Airinum, ISPO Brandnew Winner 2020

Use your product whenever you can

To sell it, nothing beats genuine love for your product. And remember, everyone is always talking about technical details and new technology. But at least as important is the story behind it. What helps your product reach people? Stories about people are more important than small material innovations or a few grams of weight reduction.

- Weldon Kennedy, Enda, ISPO Brandnew Winner 2020

You Must Distinguish Yourself

What makes you or your product really special? This is where you need to be honest with yourself. If ten other brands are advertising with the same keyword, you shouldn't be number eleven - even if your competitors aren't doing it right in your eyes. It's about the unique qualities of your product, not some checklist to tick off.

- Andreas Szcekalla, YKK, Brandnew Jury

Don't rely on events, trade fairs and prizes alone

Be visible on the ground. But above all, make sure that you are noticed by the right people. Contact journalists, potential partners and resellers in a targeted manner, so you can add important target contacts to the inbound leads at the event.

- Fergie Miller, Floa Sports, ISPO Brandnew Winner 2020


On the way to a finished product, you'll encounter new problems at almost every step, from the initial idea to development, design, prototyping, and marketing. It's almost impossible to do on your own. The good thing is that there are platforms and experts with a solution for every problem. And digitalization in particular opens up opportunities and contacts worldwide.

- Toby Deckert, Shred Rack, Brandnew Jury & ISPO Brandnew Winner 2020

Choose Investors wisely!

Choose your investor as if you were entering into a marriage, after all, you'll be together for a long and intense time. You need to be as prudent about growth and financing as you are about product development. This includes asking yourself the right questions - and answering them honestly. It's about your values and vision. And about expectations - what should the investor bring with him, how should he get involved and how intensive should the exchange be? And of course, it's also about fears. Many founders shy away from bringing outside funders into the company. If you don't feel really good about it, figure out what that's about. The goal is for both partners to benefit in the end. That's work.

- Svenja Lassen, Primecrowd, Brandnew Jury

Always be skeptical of advice.

If the person you were talking to knew exactly how what you were doing worked - they probably would have done it themselves. So listen, take the feedback, learn - and then go your own way.

- Navalayo Osembo, Founder Enda, ISPO Brandnew Winner 2020

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