Startups Inside the Asia-Pacific Sports Analytics Conference 2016

We co-sponsored the APAC Sports Analytics Conference along with Oracle, KPMG and SAS. It seems a strange choice for an online wagering company, but I felt it was important to engage with the broader sports tech and innovation community. I believe the strongest way to accelerate innovation inside our company, and any company for that matter, is fully embrace open innovation. This is much harder than it looks in a competitive environment that moves really fast.

Engaging with intent

One way we’ve been doing this is to host events such as the Sports Analytics Meetup at our offices and support events like this one. When we were discussing the sponsorship with John and Johann from PSCL , it was important for me that the overriding Sportsbet message of the day is “if you’re a start-up or early stage company looking to access customers and scale, we’re happy to embrace some risk and iterate with you to growth’.

Easy to say, but unless you’re pursuing this with integrity and the the right intent, it can quickly degenerate into innovation theatre, or worse, a huge time and resource suck for the entrepreneurs for whom both are scarce commodities.

Taking more innovation risk with Startups

I hosted the startup pitch session, where we showcased 12 startups and one success story from last years pitch session, and I loved it. This is where the real innovation begins.

As I said in my closing remarks,

“We’re engaging with startups because we understand they need customers and scale, therefore revenue, and we have that, and they have fresh thinking and innovation and we all really need more of that”

I strongly encourage you to do the same where you can. Take more risk — you’ll probably fail a lot, but you’ll learn more than you lose. This is not a shortcut to creating innovation in your company, it’s one piece of the puzzle to connect to external innovation

If you’re in the sports technology space, I encourage you to reach out to these innovators:

Scaling from 200 to 800+ attendees

Huge congratulations to PSCL for an event that started with 200 attendees last year and has grown to over 800 this year, with 77 speakers, opening remarks by Minister for Sport @ Victorian Government, John Eren MP and Laura Anderson, a Director & Board Member @ Australian Grand Prix Corp

With the quality of speakers, small improvements on this year and the massive growth in this area in Australia and the region, I’m sure we’ll double the numbers again next year.

Virtual Reality F1 Racing Contest

To add a bit of fun to the day, our eSports experiment, Respawn, gave away a Playstation 4 to David Vitali for the best time set on the immersive HTC Vive and F1 game , Live for Speed.

Mission accomplished

Based on anecdotal feedback during the day, a few follow-up chats with startups and people on the day, we’ve had a great outcome. Yes, we’re a wagering company and that may or may not be your thing, but we’re also a high growth, pure play online tech company and we have scope to learn, iterate and do really interesting things. One more piece of the puzzle in place.

And hit up those startups — you may learn something.

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