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Founders and what sport can learn from them

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Sport and founding - what's the connection? The two complement each other in a surprisingly harmonious interplay: sport teaches founders discipline, perseverance and tenacity. And founders give sport innovation, transformation and inspiration.

That's why presents pioneers, thought leaders and prime examples for the entire sports industry.Founders, like our ISPO Brandnew Award winners and businesswomen who inspire sports, and athletes who use their sports experience to create successful businesses.


The future of sports is diverse: Laura Youngson, IDA Sports

"Turns out, women are not small men!" Sounds logical, doesn't it? But the sports industry hasn't sufficiently caught on to that yet. One founder who has already realized this is Laura Youngson. She's a STEM advocate, TED speaker, four-time Guinness World Record holder and is making a lasting mark in the game she loves and for the entire sports industry.

On the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in 2017, Laura and a group of women competed in a unique soccer match with Equal Playing Field, with the goal of raising awareness about gender inequality in sports. But during the highest-altitude soccer game ever, a familiar problem became even more apparent: the players were wearing men's or children's shoes that were the right size but caused long-lasting pain in their feet due to the difference in gender anatomy. For Laura, it was clear: the "shrink it and pink it" approach had to end.

Men's and women's feet are fundamentally different and that's where IDA Sports comes in. The shoes were designed with the unique biomechanics and requirements of female athletes in mind.

For this revolutionary step towards more diversity, IDA Sports 2022 received the ISPO Brandnew Award in the category "Performance, Body & Min". The audience was so enthusiastic that they even chose the brand as Public Choice Winner. A real sign for other brands in the sports industry to think and live diversity.


Teamwork makes the dream work: Founder Team Covision Lab

A 3D scanner that can convert any physical object into 3D? Covision Lab has made it possible. And in the highest quality, with one click and in just a few minutes. LaSportiva, GORE-Tex, GEOX and many other sportswear companies are already using the innovation to scan footwear and accessories.

The secret to success? A founding team full of drive and power. Seven founding companies have joined forces to drive technology and innovation. And more than successfully. Alupress, Barbieri Electronic, Durst Group, Microgate, Microtec, MPD and TTControl are not only creating a technological advantage in the industry through their teamwork, they are also making significant quantum leaps in deep learning, embedded vision and 3D sensing. Representatives from each of the founding companies are on the board of directors, and renowned figures such as Rita Cucchiara, Pietro Perona and Paolo Lugli sit on the scientific committee. A dream team from which lone fighters can learn a thing or two.

And the teamwork is paying off: Covision received the ISPO Brandnew Award in the category "Sports, Technology & Platforms" for its 3D scanner in 2022.


Always pull something positive: Shannon Miller, Shannon Miller Lifestyle

"I knew how to take care of myself as an athlete, but when I quit, I was a little lost." Shannon Miller was one of the most successful Olympic gymnasts in the United States. Always caring about women's and children's health and fitness, Shannon Miller founded her company and brand in 2010. All just six months before her own cancer diagnosis. Her goal was to help women put their health first and provide support around fitness, nutrition, pregnancy, maternity, cancer, diabetes or heart disease.

From her time as a competitive gymnast, Shannon Miller learned tenacity, and during her battle with cancer, she learned perseverance. Both strengthened her with the right qualities to start Shannon Miller Lifestyle. Now she encourages other women to live their best lives.


Never give up: Armin Meyer, Lukas Liedtke, Stefan Hotz, Christof Reuter, Kamedi GmbH

Giving up is not an option! The guys from Kamedi show how it's done and prove that perseverance pays off. During a student competition in 2017, they came up with an ingenious idea to make annoying mosquito bites bearable. Products that use concentrated heat to combat the unpleasant bites already existed, but they are inflexible, unwieldy and rarely carried around. heat it® revolutionizes this idea and combines it with something you always have at hand - your smartphone. The small, compact device against insect bites is always at hand and does not require an additional battery. Using an app, the temperature and duration of treatment can also be set individually.

Ingenious idea, isn't it? However, the Karlsruhe-based start-up did not find favor on the TV show "Höhle der Löwen". Even though the deal didn't work out, the founding team didn't give up, successfully found investors after the broadcast and continued to develop. So it pays to keep at it, because even if it didn't work out in the first attempt, Kamedi can also adorn itself with an ISPO Brandnew Award in the category "Outdoor, Adventure & Snowsports" alongside Ida Sports and Covision Lab.

Apply for the ISPO Brand New Award!

You have an exciting and innovative start-up and are the next founder who will change sports? Then apply by October 1 with your product video or register for the ISPO Brand New Village at ISPO Munich.

As an Overall Winner, Winner or Selected Brand, you benefit from a variety of benefits:

As an Overall Winner, Winner or Selected Brand, you benefit from a variety of benefits:







ISPO Brandnew Village

4 m²

worth 1990 Euro

4 m²

worth 1.990 Euro

Trophy/ Certificate








Media package


Networking Night




Free participation at OutDoor by ISPO 2023

(worth 2000 Euro)



ISPO Award registration fee

(worth 500 Euro/ registration)



Open Innovation Project

(worth 12.000 Euro)


worth it in total

17.000 Euro

5.000 Euro

1.000 Euro


Inclusion must be lived: Maria Luisa Mendiola, MIGA Swimwear

Maria Luisa Mendiala feels the pain of lack of inclusion firsthand and knows how important it is for those affected to feel comfortable at the beach and by the pool. Her brachymetatarsia, a foot deformity, moved her to make a change and do something good for people with chronic health issues to disfigurement. The inclusive swimwear brand shines with special designs that wearers can feel comfortable in and enjoy summer to the fullest. Working with burn survivors, MIGA Swimwear developed its first collection and designed swimsuits to meet their physical as well as mental needs. There definitely needs to be more founders like Maria Luisa Mendiola in the sports business world!

What else can the sports industry do for inclusion?
"Everything. Just do something. So there's nothing, so there's nothing happening." Jacqueline Fritz, para-climber.


Sports psychology as a foundation booster: Jim & Jennifer Moss, Plasticity Labs, professional lacrosse players.

Jim Moss has a mission: to help people live happy, high-achieving lives. Just like he rebuilt for himself. After nine years as a professional lacrosse player, he lost feeling in his hands and the ability to walk one morning. A sudden neuromuscular disease took away his mobility, his sport, his joy in life. But he didn't let it get him down.

His sports psychology background helped him get back on his feet: "Sports gave me a really good foundation in things like resilience and optimism. I learned how to use gratitude to put myself in a more positive mood every day."

And so he developed Plasticity Labs, a wellness platform that measures employee and team health, satisfaction and productivity, and provides predictions and solutions to improve quality of life, mental health and work-life balance.

Jim Moss is not only setting an inspiring example as the founder of Plasticity Labs. To live his vision in his own company, he is also Chief Happiness Officer.


A green impact: Hannes, Finn and Lasse Homfeld, Southern Shores

Three brothers wanted to put something together that would have a real impact. With Southern Shores, they've done just that. Because what looks like an ordinary yoga mat at first glance has an enormous impact on nature. Many yogis prefer to use natural rubber mats because their slip resistance is unsurpassed. With The Ocean Mat, the functional rubber mat becomes a green gift for Mother Nature! Made from recycled plastic bottles as well as FSC-certified natural rubber, the mats also create zero waste during production. And the founders are setting another example with their start-up: With one percent of sales, they support the protection of dolphins and whales. A real "whale friendly" yoga mat.

The brothers are setting a good example by questioning the impact of their company on society and the environment and being active in the fight for climate protection. For a greener sport and a greener sports business! They were also honored with the ISPO Brandnew Award in 2021.


There is not enough diversity: Johanna Mühlbeyer, Founder and Managing Director, Equalate

Another female founder who is bringing the topic of diversity to the sports industry and leading the way as a prime example? Yes. Because it is and remains one of the most important social issues. And Johanna Mühlbeyer is not just a successful founder, she is a true fighter for more diversity in sports. Equalate is a consulting firm with a focus on sports business, which aims to help companies and sports organizations build, implement and live diversity strategies.

On the Spobis podcast, she points out that "diverse teams not only bring in higher revenue, but employees are happier and companies are less affected by turnover." If the sports industry isn't inspired by this, what is?

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