leAD Sports Accelerator is seeking the most innovative ideas in sports business


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leAD (legacy of Adi Dassler) is a new sports accelerator program established by the grandsons of Adi Dassler, the so-called father of the modern sports industry.

The program aims to preserve and pay tribute to the legacy of Dassler while nurturing future startups.

Set up by three of his grandsons, Klaus, Horst, and Stefan Bente, the accelerator is looking for startups working on products and services in or applicable to the entire sports universe. These areas include: tracking, media and entertainment, venues and ticketing, fan engagement and merchandise, connected equipment and clothing, gaming and VR, but also less digital areas like inclusivity in sport, and new sports formats.

Dassler and his grandsons

“My grandfather was always driven by supporting sportsmen and women to improve their performance and to make good ideas great. And that’s precisely why the support of innovative founders is the next logical step of what our grandfather passed down to us,” said Horst Bente, cofounder.

The three-month program kicks off in September in Berlin and is structured much like a sports tournament.

In June, during the group stages, all applicants will be screened and 30 will be chosen to move on to the next round. In July there will be the quarter finals where 30 startups will be narrowed down to 15 that will enter the accelerator in September.


Come October and the semi-finals, five startups will be eliminated. The final 10 will receive €25,000 each in exchange for 8% equity. All roads lead to the finals in December with a demo day for the 10 finalists with the winner also receiving a special prize.

The startups that participate will avail of advice and guidance from sports business veterans, VCs, founders, CEOs, and marketing gurus. Some of these mentors include former CMO of Under Armour, Tara-Nicholle Nelson; La Martina CEO and President, Adrian Simonetta; and Executive VP Commercial Operations at Nielsen Sports, Lars Stegelmann.

The program is open to early stage startups and founders from around the world, and anyone with a great idea that is not yet founded, but also startups that are already active and are looking to step up their game.

Applications close on May 31, click here to apply.

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