Top 4 is a series of blog posts by Football and Business Podcast, What The Footie which focuses on the new wave of football...tech, fashion, athlete investing, sponsors, professional investors, football clubs as global brands & etc.
A major trend in the tech and startup space, over the years, has been the increasing number of professional athletes working with startups. Either through angel investing or through setting up their own Venture Capital funds, US sport stars like Serena Williams, Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Andre Iguodala, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and Shaquille O'Neal have reaped the rewards of being early-stage investors in companies like Google, Coinbase, Postmates, Lyft and Zoom.
Having previously worked in a startup, been in and around the UK startup ecosystem and featured some on the What The Footie Podcast, in the first Top 4, I thought I'd share four startups that past and present footballers are backing that caught my eye.
Zone7 is a data-driven AI platform that helps sports teams like Liverpool FC and Rangers FC to forecast and reduce injury-risk. With increased fixture congestion, tournament expansion at both international and domestic level and less rest time for players, as Zone7 CEO and Co-Founder Tal Brown put in our podcast episode, "the tide is rising" and clubs not leveraging platforms like Zone7 will be left behind in the future.
Premier League clubs lost 21,004 days to player injuries in the 20/21 season, representing 16.6% of the total days for all players in the season. Using projected player salaries, Zone7 estimates that injuries collectively cost the Premier League up to £197 million in lost contract value during the season, reaching as high as £20.5 million for some individual clubs. One can see why former FC Barcelona and Manchester United player, Jordi Cruyff invested in Zone7's seed round in 2019.
Sorare is a fantasy football game that runs on the Ethereum blockchain where players buy, sell, trade, and manage a virtual team with digital player cards. Its $680 million Series B funding round was led by Japanese conglomerate SoftBank and other investors like Gerard Piqué, Antoine Griezmann, Rio Ferdinand and César Azpilicueta.
Allplants is a vegan meal delivery startup which in late-2021, raised the biggest ever Series B by a plant-based food company in Europe at £38 million. Founders Alex and Jonathan Petrides believe that the world (and everyone on it, including us) would be better off if we ate more plants. They believe that 100% plant-based meals should be tasty, easy and convenient, and so did athlete investors Kieran Gibbs and Chris Smalling when they joined lead investor Draper Esprit to fund the round.
Bloss is an expert-led technology platform that connects connects would-be or existing parents to pre-vetted parenting experts. Football legend Andriy Shevchenko invested in their pre-seed round earlier this year. The startup has more than 95,000 users in 161 countries, with 530% growth and over 200 experts, such as midwives, sleep consultants, nutritionists and child psychologists, who aim to answer questions within 24 hours.
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