Nordic Sports Tech: Connecting Sports Technologists in the Nordics

The Nordic Sports Tech sports tech community is based in the Nordic region. Nordic Sports Tech connects the sports tech ecosystem by networking and engaging people from across the industry.

We sat down to chat with 2 of their founders recently about the community, region and all things sport tech.

Nordic Sports Tech Logo

Zushan Hashmi: Tell us a little bit about yourselves and what you do?

Nordic Sports Tech is the leading sports tech community in the Nordics. We aspire to connect, grow and inspire the sports tech community in the Nordics through interdisciplinary knowledge exchange, networking and collaboration.

Our operational team consists of four people and one advisor. Here is a bit more about the team:

Geet joined the Nordic Sports Tech team in September 2019. He holds a master’s degree in engineering and sports management and is currently completing his doctoral studies. He also does client assistance for MANY Digital (an end-to-end digital sports ecosystem provider).

At Nordic Sports Tech, Geet is responsible for the country operations of Nordic Sports Tech in Finland. He also analyses the marketing performance of Nordic Sports Tech on various social media platforms.

Additionally, he assists in organizing meetups and outreaches.
Hakan is an experienced researcher in sports studies. From lecturing in sports sciences in universities to leading various alliances and associations in sports as either a Founder member, General Director or Secretary General, Hakan now leads Collective Innovation AS.

At Nordic Sports Tech, Hakan is responsible for the country activities of Norway.

Additionally, is the lead in grant funding application writing and university partnerships.
Ida is one of the founders of Nordic Sports Tech. She holds a Master in Applied Economics and Finance from Copenhagen Business School, Denmark.

Ida has a wealth of experience in creating and consulting digital startups and organizations at the intersection of sport, design, strategy and technology.

Besides Nordic Sports Tech, Ida is co-founder and Managing Director of Noise Studio - a creative agency specializing in strategy, branding and digital design for sport and outdoor organizations.

Besides being one of the founders of Nordic Sports Tech, Jakob is the founder of Sportidealisten and a board member at the European Association for Sport Management.

He holds an entrepreneurship degree from California and a Master degree in Sports Science with an emphasis in Sport Management from Sweden and Australia. Jakob founded Sportidealisten, where he helps people find their dream job or coworker in sports.

At Nordic Sports Tech, Jakob runs meetups, participating at events and he has an extra responsibility around the Swedish and Icelandic sports tech market.

Stina holds a PhD degree with a broad education in biochemistry, sports science, and economics with a great interest in entrepreneurship, innovation and coaching.

In her current role as the research and outreach manager at the SSE Center for Sports and Business, she is able to combine her three passions - business, sports and sustainability.

She has also lived in Silicon Valley and experienced the special innovative vibe that surrounds that area. She has also been the Program Manager of SPIN Accelerator Sweden. With her vast experience and knowledge, Stina is perfect in her role as an advisor for Nordic Sports Tech.

How and why did you decide to form Nordic Sports Tech?

Funny story actually. Both Ida and Jakob got recommended to get in contact with each other because they seemed to have a similar interest in sports and tech.

They were both feeling the pain of a non- existent ecosystem about the sports tech scene in the Nordics, where they both come from.

There were so many great initiatives, people and resources (so many of them from the Nordics itself) but they were difficult to find.

After a conversation, at the end of 2018, the seed of Nordic Sports Tech was planted. In March 2019, Nordic Sports Tech was launched with the idea to put sports tech in the Nordics on the map and help raise awareness of the possibilities of what sports and tech can do.

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We believe that technology can make us more physically active and associate movements with something great.

Jakob Wikenstaal, founder of Sportidealisten & Nordic Sports Tech

What is its purpose?

Our mission is to lead the development of a Nordic connected sports tech ecosystem by supporting and connecting founders, startups, organizations and investors, corporates and universities to sustainably grow and promote the sports tech vertical in and outside the Nordic countries.

Our focus lies in the areas of research, community building and global recognition of the Nordic sports tech ecosystem, and to continuously help, connect, network and fast-track Nordic startups, founders and companies at the intersection of sports, technology, and business and build a strong ecosystem.

Who are some of the members of your community, and what do they do?

Our community is very diverse in terms of skill-sets and experience. Around half of the community members are either founders or of the CXO-level.

We also have partnered with similar interests and communities such as London Sports (UK) from outside the Nordics. Others are students that see the community as a great platform to not only bounce ideas off of people but also to possibly find their future employers.

Our startups are most passionate about providing solutions to relevant problems faced in sports and in the physical activity space in general.

Through your channels and platforms, you enable engagement and exchange of information for people, why and how does that benefit the Nordic sports tech community?

Having all our community members on a platform such as Slack has many advantages. We can share ideas and get feedback on opinions and ideas from experienced professionals.

We can also benefit from finding a solution to their problem through community participation and engagement.

Moreover, our strategic partnerships with organizers of key sports/sports tech conferences enable our community members to avail benefits such as discounted participation or demo fees.

A very good example of this was our partnership with SMASH in Lahti, Finland in February this year, where we could provide our members with a discounted ticket.

What have been some of the challenges of getting Nordic Sports Tech up and running?

One of the biggest challenges starting something up and especially a community is getting people to the same place. We launched a Slack channel and then started to reach out to like-minded people.

Our Slack now boasts of almost 300 people and is growing every day.

Even though English is commonly spoken and understood in the Nordics, it is challenging to communicate with people from the different Nordic countries in their local languages on a day-to-day basis.

We addressed that by having country managers as local points of contact for Nordic Sports Tech. Still, this area is quite new to us and we continue to face some challenges to really reach out.

Why is it important to have a community of this sort across your region?

Each Nordic country has a small population but they all are very good in sports and they are all tech-savvy.

Each country also shares a similar culture and together we can play a big role in the sports tech scene.

The key with a community is that we all help out. Everyone is welcome to share their ideas, expertise or news.

What are some of the sports where your members focus?

Ice-hockey and football are historically popular throughout all the Nordic countries. So, most of the startups in our community focus, particularly on those sports. There are also examples of members working on solutions that can be scaled across all sports. Some of the member interests and highlights with regards to the key sports of interest at Sportageous are:
1. Football - Tonsser, JustFootball
2. Cricket - Volunteer-run, organized national tournaments and leagues played in minority communities throughout the Nordics. No Nordic Sports Tech members are currently working in this space.
3. Tennis - VULCAM, Seven Six
4. Squash - Fun With Balls (not Nordic)

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Member highlights:
Just Football: Just Football is a mobile game company founded in 2016 in Stockholm, Sweden. The company is revolutionizing the sport of football by combining the physical and digital to inspire kids to get outside and exercise while interacting with each other in the real world.

Tonsser: From Denmark, Tonsser is changing the game of football by placing the power in the hands of the 265 million football players to be in control of their own football identity. The Tonsser app empowers football players to showcase their achievements and determine their success.

VULCAM: A Finnish startup with an app for visual motion analysis that you can single-handedly capture instant time-synchronized video from multiple viewpoints using your existing iPhones, iPods or iPads, no other hardware needed.

VULCAM is already being used for performance improvement, injury prevention, rehabilitation, biomechanics, physical therapy and all other kinds of motion analysis; for pretty much any discipline imaginable, from high jumps, hurdles, throws, etc., to tennis, wrestling, skateboarding, ice hockey goalkeeping, etc.

Geet raju Nordic SportsTech founder
Geet Raju

Where do you envision Nordic Sports Tech in the future?

Oh, not an easy question. We believe that our efforts have put the sports tech community in the Nordics on the global map.

Additionally, we have been doing research and are in dialogues with several actors from around the globe, in order to fast-track Nordic startups, founders and companies at the intersection of sports, technology, and business.

What have your community events and meetups enabled some of the founders and interested
parties to achieve?

One of our most important features has been physical meetups and networking events.

They have enabled the interested parties in getting a real face to talk to and physically meet. We feel that digital is great and easy, but the physical meetup is always special.

Throughout 2019 we were able to introduce several people in Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway into new relationships and future collaborations.

Another feature from our community engagement has been our start of providing meetups hosted by members. For example, Hooves founder Alina Engel shared her office and experience about Hooves and their funding strategies.

How are you continuing your work during the COVID-19 lockdown?

Since inception, we have worked digitally and remotely.

We have been using a lot of digital tools for communication and coordination. Therefore, what we do internally has continued as usual during the lockdown.

However, our monthly meetups that are physical meetings and networking events have been put on hold for the moment.

We are now looking into virtual meetups instead, and so far we have tried one with some community members. Stay tuned to see if we open up to more soon.

Any other thoughts and comments?

We hope you and all your readers around the world are safe and doing well. We love your work at Sportageous and look forward to your insights and communications.

You can also read more about Sports Tech on our website.
You can get in touch with Nordic Sports Tech on Linkedin and Facebook.
Noor Shafiq assisted in the curation of this article. You can follow him on LinkedIn.

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