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Forbes Business: SportsMoney

DraftKings Announces Initiative That Is Aiming To Be An Ecosystem For The Sports Technology Intersection

DraftKings on Friday announced a new Drive by DraftKings initiative that will look to bring an ecosystem for the sports technology industry.

By Simon Ogus, Forbes Contributor, August 31, 2019, 8:50 a.m. — Gambling’s impending legalization in the United States has spurred a lot of movement within the industry. What is rarer however, is a company that has been in the space for a long time but is looking to do something completely outside its traditional offerings. But the value proposition for doing so has never been higher. That is what DraftKings announced on Friday, when it unveiled its new DRIVE by DraftKings initiative, an ecosystem of athletes, entrepreneurs, investors and sports business professionals who have teamed up with venture capital firms General Catalyst, Accomplice and Boston Seed to create what the company hopes is a unique collaboration within the sports technology community. Read More

But what about winning the race to become the next sports tech hub? Can Boston win that title, too?

Janet Holian and Rashaun Williams sure hope so. They have joined forces to launch a new venture here called Drive by DraftKings that aims to build a support system for sports tech entrepreneurs as well as pro athletes interested in investing and working in the field.

Drive’s launch, unveiled Thursday, has been in the works for months. DraftKings, the Boston-based tech company best known for its fantasy sports competitions, had wanted to launch a “venture studio” to foster the next generation of sports tech firms. Holian stepped down as chief marketing officer at DraftKings, which employs more than 700 people in Boston, to help make that happen. Holian connected with Williams, an Atlanta-based venture capitalist and DraftKings investor who also coaches pro athletes about investing and entrepreneurship. Together, they decided to fold his work into this new venture, offering classes and other kinds of support to athletes and startups.

The venture will be based at DraftKings’ headquarters in the Back Bay, rely in part on DraftKings’ staff for support, and trade on the DraftKings name. But it’s not a direct subsidiary and has roughly a half-dozen staffers of its own. Holian and Williams secured funding from three venture capital firms in Boston: General Catalyst, Accomplice, and Boston Seed Capital. The three VC firms and DraftKings are all minority investors in Drive.

Williams said that the impetus to create Drive came from DraftKings’ interest in supporting budding sports technology firms and building a support network of sorts.

Drive’s first course for athletes kicked off this week: Twenty or so athletes, including Celtics rookie Grant Williams and former Patriots star Matt Light, visited various companies in Boston to kick off a five-week “internship” to teach them more about VC investing. (Most of the coursework will take place online.)

Among the places they visited: Whoop, a 70-employee firm in the Fenway that focuses on using data to improve athletic performance. The firm sells something akin to a high-end FitBit, available through a monthly subscription, that provides 24/7 monitoring and assessment of physical activities, recovery, and sleep. It’s exactly the kind of startup that Drive wants to encourage in Boston.

Whoop vice president Kristen Holmes says she hopes her firm can get more involved with Drive, in part for the feedback from the athletes. The Drive launch is just the latest reason Holmes thinks Boston is a great place for a sports tech business. She also cited the city’s sports teams, its universities, and its venture capital community.

About those VC firms. Their biggest motivation for investing in Drive appears to be bolstering the local startup ecosystem.

Ryan Moore of Accomplice says he wants to share what he’s learned over two decades of working with entrepreneurs; he doesn’t think there’s a city better primed to be a sports tech hub than Boston. Olivia Lew at General Catalyst agrees: Along with the pro sports franchises and their ardent fans, Lew points to the concentration of sneaker companies here — Reebok, Converse, New Balance, and Puma among them — and all the tech talent. Plus, there’s the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, considered one of the most important events in the emerging field.

The VC firms aren’t investing in Drive for direct profits, at least not right away, though this represents a sweet networking opportunity. Holian says Drive won’t charge entrepreneurs or athletes for services. Eventually, she says, the hope is to monetize this group after a critical mass is built, perhaps through sponsorships or other revenue opportunities.

But they also have this goal in mind: Maybe Boston can beat out Silicon Valley to be the reigning Title Town in sports tech. That type of victory would bring benefits that last long after the confetti gets cleaned up and the duck boats drive away.

Original article: https://www.forbes.com/sites/simonogus/2019/08/31/draftkings-announces-initiative-that-is-aiming-to-be-an-ecosystem-for-the-sports-technology-industry/


The Boston Globe: CHESTO MEANS BUSINESS

DraftKings spinoff aims to make Boston a ‘Title Town’ for sports tech

(CHARLES KRUPA/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

By Jon Chesto, Globe Staff, August 29, 2019, 7:24 p.m. — We sure have enjoyed plenty of duck boat parades in this city. When was the last one? February seems so long ago now.

But what about winning the race to become the next sports tech hub? Can Boston win that title, too? Read More

Janet Holian and Rashaun Williams sure hope so. They have joined forces to launch a new venture here called Drive by DraftKings that aims to build a support system for sports tech entrepreneurs as well as pro athletes interested in investing and working in the field.

Drive’s launch, unveiled Thursday, has been in the works for months. DraftKings, the Boston-based tech company best known for its fantasy sports competitions, had wanted to launch a “venture studio” to foster the next generation of sports tech firms. Holian stepped down as chief marketing officer at DraftKings, which employs more than 700 people in Boston, to help make that happen. Holian connected with Williams, an Atlanta-based venture capitalist and DraftKings investor who also coaches pro athletes about investing and entrepreneurship. Together, they decided to fold his work into this new venture, offering classes and other kinds of support to athletes and startups.

The venture will be based at DraftKings’ headquarters in the Back Bay, rely in part on DraftKings’ staff for support, and trade on the DraftKings name. But it’s not a direct subsidiary and has roughly a half-dozen staffers of its own. Holian and Williams secured funding from three venture capital firms in Boston: General Catalyst, Accomplice, and Boston Seed Capital. The three VC firms and DraftKings are all minority investors in Drive.

Williams said that the impetus to create Drive came from DraftKings’ interest in supporting budding sports technology firms and building a support network of sorts.

Drive’s first course for athletes kicked off this week: Twenty or so athletes, including Celtics rookie Grant Williams and former Patriots star Matt Light, visited various companies in Boston to kick off a five-week “internship” to teach them more about VC investing. (Most of the coursework will take place online.)

Among the places they visited: Whoop, a 70-employee firm in the Fenway that focuses on using data to improve athletic performance. The firm sells something akin to a high-end FitBit, available through a monthly subscription, that provides 24/7 monitoring and assessment of physical activities, recovery, and sleep. It’s exactly the kind of startup that Drive wants to encourage in Boston.

Whoop vice president Kristen Holmes says she hopes her firm can get more involved with Drive, in part for the feedback from the athletes. The Drive launch is just the latest reason Holmes thinks Boston is a great place for a sports tech business. She also cited the city’s sports teams, its universities, and its venture capital community.

About those VC firms. Their biggest motivation for investing in Drive appears to be bolstering the local startup ecosystem.

Ryan Moore of Accomplice says he wants to share what he’s learned over two decades of working with entrepreneurs; he doesn’t think there’s a city better primed to be a sports tech hub than Boston. Olivia Lew at General Catalyst agrees: Along with the pro sports franchises and their ardent fans, Lew points to the concentration of sneaker companies here — Reebok, Converse, New Balance, and Puma among them — and all the tech talent. Plus, there’s the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, considered one of the most important events in the emerging field.

The VC firms aren’t investing in Drive for direct profits, at least not right away, though this represents a sweet networking opportunity. Holian says Drive won’t charge entrepreneurs or athletes for services. Eventually, she says, the hope is to monetize this group after a critical mass is built, perhaps through sponsorships or other revenue opportunities.

But they also have this goal in mind: Maybe Boston can beat out Silicon Valley to be the reigning Title Town in sports tech. That type of victory would bring benefits that last long after the confetti gets cleaned up and the duck boats drive away.

Original article: https://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2019/08/29/draftkings-spinoff-aims-make-boston-title-town-for-sports-tech/Y2RczKTtZ5J2Z0J9aJHSWJ/story.html


Boston Business Journal: Media & Marketing

DraftKings announces new initiative aimed at sports startups, athletes

A NBA Huddle area, one of several sports themed meeting areas at DraftKings' Back Bay offices.

By W. MARC BERNSAU — Boston-based fantasy sports company DraftKings Inc. announced Thursday a new initiative aimed at supporting both technology sports firms and athletes interested in technology or investing careers.

"Drive by DraftKings" — which has attracted an unspecified amount of funding from venture capital firms General Catalyst, Accomplice, and Boston Seed — has two components: “DRIVE Venture Studio” is meant to provide entrepreneurs in the sports technology field with connections to athletes and sports team, as well as instructional content and capital, while “DRIVE Athlete Network” is intended to give athletes guidance and first-hand experience in the venture capital and technology space so they can pursue careers in those areas. Read More

An additional aspect of the Drive initiative, the Venture Internship Program, gives athletes the opportunities to spend time working at venture capital firms.

Drive is headed by Janet Holian, the CEO, and Rashaun Williams, its president. Holian formerly served as DraftKing’s chief marketing officer, while Williams is a venture capitalist and a partner at Manhattan Venture Partners.

The initiative’s board of advisers includes Larry Fitzgerald, the Arizona Cardinals wide receiver, and Langston Galloway of the Detroit Pistons.

Williams said that the impetus to create Drive came from DraftKings’ interest in supporting budding sports technology firms and building a support network of sorts.

“They kept thinking, ‘What can we do to foster this community and build this community here in Boston,’” Williams said. Williams, who has previously acted as a "coach" for athletes and entertainers looking to make investments, also indicated that Drive could provide opportunities to athletes who might otherwise be locked into sports-adjacent careers.

While the program will be free for both athletes and startup founders, Williams said the company will likely take an “economic stake” in firms it supports. Williams said that even without charging fees, the network of investors, athletes, and entrepreneurs the organization intends to to build would have value and could be monetized in some way in the future.

Earlier this year, DraftKings earlier this year completed a move to a new 105,000 square-foot office in the Back Bay, where the new initiative will also be based. The company currently has 800 employees, according to a spokeswoman.

Original article: https://www.bizjournals.com/boston/news/2019/08/30/draftkings-announces-new-initiative-aimed-at.html


Press Release

DRIVE BY DRAFTKINGS LAUNCHES WITH INVESTMENT FROM GENERAL CATALYST, ACCOMPLICE AND BOSTON SEED

Will Play Leading Role in Accelerating Athletes’ Involvement in Sports-Tech Evolution

BOSTON, August 29, 2019—DRIVE by DraftKings, a unique ecosystem of athletes, entrepreneurs, investors and sports business professionals, today announced its official launch with investment from leading venture capital firms General Catalyst, Accomplice and Boston Seed. DRIVE will accelerate the movement of sports professionals into high-tech ventures and serve as a bridge for startups looking to innovate in sports, media and entertainment. DRIVE encompasses two complementary components, the DRIVE Venture Studio, that creates customized programs for early stage sports tech entrepreneurs providing strategic resources including access to leagues, teams, owners, athletes, business leaders and capital. Additionally, the DRIVE Athlete Network which includes programs like the Venture Internship Program (VIP), Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) and DRIVE Masterclasses is designed to provide both active and former professional or Olympic athletes opportunities to explore careers as entrepreneurs and investors. Read More

“Our goal is for DRIVE by DraftKings to play a leading role in the innovation revolution sweeping sports, media and entertainment,” said Janet Holian, DRIVE CEO. “We are ecstatic to catalyze the worlds of tech entrepreneurs and athletes by creating a dynamic environment that will define the future technologies of how we play, consume and experience sports.”

DRIVE is co-founded by sports tech veteran Janet Holian and venture capitalist Rashaun Williams. Holian, who most recently served as DraftKings’ chief marketing officer and brings more than 20 years startup experience to the role will serve as CEO. Williams, general partner at Manhattan Venture Partners, a former Goldman Sachs & Deutsche Bank investment banker and has counseled hundreds of professional athletes in financial literacy and tech investment strategies, will serve as DRIVE’s president.

“The DRIVE Athlete Network puts athletes at the center of everything we do, providing them with rare, real-world opportunities to embed with leading VC firms and cutting-edge tech companies,” said Rashaun Williams, DRIVE co-founder and president. “DRIVE fills a resource gap for current and former professional athletes, who despite their wealth and public fame, are often stuck on the outside looking in at the tech companies revolutionizing their own sports.”

The collaboration between DraftKings, several leading venture firms and athletes, executives and owners from throughout American professional sports provides DRIVE Athlete Network participants with rare opportunities to immerse themselves in the sports-tech and venture capital industries.

DRIVE’s Board of Advisors includes some of the sports world’s most successful team owners, front office executives and athletes including Arizona Cardinals’ All Pro wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, Langston Galloway of the Detroit Pistons and dozens of others.

“I believe it is important that professional athletes receive the training and opportunities to diversify their skill set and better understand the opportunities that exist for them as potential investors and business owners.” said Larry Fitzgerald. “DRIVE by DraftKings is the first comprehensive program designed to serve as a roadmap for athletes in this capacity. I'm honored and excited to serve as a member of the Advisory Board and be able to participate in what will be a transformational experience for everyone involved.”

In addition to Holian, DRIVE’s board of directors will include Olivia Lew, partner, General Catalyst; Jason Robins, DraftKings co-founder and CEO; Ryan Moore, co-founder and partner, Accomplice; and, Peter Blacklow, managing director & general partner, Boston Seed. For more information, please visit:

https://www.drivebydraftkings.com

About DRIVE by DraftKings

DRIVE by DraftKings is a unique ecosystem of athletes, entrepreneurs, investors, and teams who are driving the acceleration of sports professionals into tech and tech entrepreneurs into sports. DRIVE will encompass two complementary components, DRIVE Venture Studio, provides strategic resources to early stage companies whose technologies will define the future of how we play, consume and experience sports and entertainment, and the DRIVE Athlete Network, which was established to give athletes the opportunity to explore careers as entrepreneurs and investors when their playing days are over. Co-founded in 2019 by CEO Janet Holian and president Rashaun Williams, DRIVE’s ownership group includes sports-tech and entertainment company DraftKings and venture capital firms General Catalyst, Accomplice and Boston Seed.

Media Contacts

media@drivebydraftkings.com