ISPO.com uses the anniversary as an opportunity to tell the most exciting stories of the winners in a new series. Where did they come from? How did they come up with the idea? How have the products and brands succeeded?
In an interview, Markus Hefter, Exhibition Group Director of the ISPO Munich, explains how the start-up competition has developed, what constitutes a successful application, how ISPO supports the winners – and what importance digitalization plays for start-ups from the sports business.
ISPO.com: ISPO Brandnew anniversary: The world’s biggest start-up competition in the sports business takes place for the 30th time. Mr. Hefter, as Head of ISPO Brandnew, can you reveal yet how this milestone will be presented at the ISPO Munich 2018?
Markus Hefter: We’re already kicking things off on ISPO.com with an editorial series. Background reports on individual winners from the previous 30 editions are planned with insight-stories about brands and the people behind them.
The grand finale will then take place at the ISPO Munich 2018, where we will also feature a history exhibition of the most important brands. The Walk of Fame will invite visitors to see for themselves the winning products from back then and today.
Furthermore, there will be a special edition of the Brandnew magazine at the ISPO Munich – and a get-together one evening, to which we’re inviting the most successful brands from the past 17 years.
What kind of young entrepreneurs applied in the early years? And how has ISPO Brandnew evolved since then?
The first winner was the legendary Robby Naish, with Naish Kites, at the first ISPO Brandnew in 2000. This was the start of a tremendous wave of development. In the following years, we succeeded in positioning ISPO Brandnew as the top venue for young entrepreneurs in the sports business.
Today, ISPO Brandnew is the biggest competition for start-ups from the sports industry worldwide. On average, we receive between 350 and 400 applications each year for one of the sought-after places in the Top 50 Newcomers.
And what makes me particularly happy is that on the occasion of the jubilee we managed to win Robby Naish for the jury of ISPO Brandnew 2018 - I am looking forward to the jury meeting.
What winners, in all the years, are you particularly proud of? And who surprised you most?
All the winners are definitely a class apart. With a current ratio of 1:8 (that is, 400 applications for 50 places), we can be sure of the quality of the winners. Personally, I have a few brands in my head, which were my first contacts as Head of ISPO Brandnew; these include Maloja, Nixon Watches and GoPro.
Brandnew started in 2000 with 67 applicants. In 2017, there were almost 400, with over 6,000 having applied in total during the 30 events so far. You’re also sitting on the jury. With all these applicants, how can you maintain a grasp on which start-ups really have a chance in this highly competitive market?
The independent jury consists almost completely of former ISPO Brandnew participants. Today’s established brands know best what’s expected of start-ups, because they have already gone through the development process successfully themselves.
Over the years, we’ve also constantly optimized our rating system. We judge in the following categories: Idea, Innovation, Marketing and Marketability. This gives us a neutral and structured overview.
What makes for a good application?
Definitely the whole package. Naturally, the idea is important first of all; if it’s actually new, it’s already won points here. Then we evaluate the founders behind it. What background do they have? What corporate constellation and what spirit do they represent?
But we also rate the marketing: Do the founders have a clean sales and marketing strategy? How do they present their idea? And then we assess the marketability as well: Do we think there’s a market for the idea? Was a proper analysis done?
Right from the start, a big incentive for the Brandnew winners was the opportunity to exhibit their idea at the ISPO Munich. How did the ISPO Brandnew Village begin? What’s changed since then?
ISPO Brandnew is a concept financed by sponsors; without our long-standing partners, none of this would have been possible. With the growing number of partners, the presentation possibilities have also grown, of course.
The concept of the open Brandnew Village, which affirms the community and facilitates open communication, has always stayed the same. The winners receive a prefabricated stand in an international trade fair environment that satisfies all their needs.
In the ideal case, an ISPO Brandnew winner manages to use contacts that they can establish at the ISPO Munich to make the jump up to the big players – and also into international business. What assistance can ISPO, as a platform, offer to its winners in this regard?
ISPO monitors and supports brands during their development through analog and digital services, 365 days a year – customized to the needs of the individuals brands. If the brand needs assistance with stepping onto the market in a specific country, for example, we have the best tools available on the market in our portfolio, such as the ISPO Academy or market introduction programs.
With both our fairs in Shanghai and Beijing, we are offering access to one of the biggest growth markets in the sports business. This support is further supplemented by our online offers, from product development and testing at ISPO Open Innovation to our news portal ISPO.com.
Digitalization is shaping today’s sports business. This also applies to start-ups in the industry right now. How will ISPO Brandnew evolve, in your view?
We’re seeing more and more digital ideas being sent in. Among the winners last year, for example, was a multi-sport sensor that registers and analyzes more than a million points of movement data in real time. And the Top 6 start-ups in 2017 include a virtual avalanche training course, for example, and a tactics platform for aspiring soccer coaches.
We’ll see more of these ideas in the future. Moreover, sports-related apps, websites, platforms and software solutions are becoming more and more important. We also introduced a separate category in 2017, which honors digital newcomers related to sports.
We see the digital transformation as a great opportunity – both for companies outside of the sector to become established, and also for new business fields that are opening up. These are exciting times for the sports business and the start-ups.