Todd Deacon is the Managing Director of the Techstars SportsTech Melbourne Accelerator. Todd has a passion for the business of sport and in particular SportsTech, startups and venture capital. Prior to Techstars, Todd co-founded Unscriptd, a SportsTech business and has over a decade of experience consulting to the sports industry.
What are you looking for in startups for the Techstars SportsTech Melbourne Accelerator?
We are on a search for the most exciting early stage SportsTech companies with the greatest potential anywhere around the globe right now.
This is narrow in terms of industry but broad in terms of the tech that exists within. And I should say, ideally that tech will have some application to the business of Tennis Australia now or in the future – be that to do with major events, mass participation, or for the elite athlete.
You were born in Melbourne and have lived there your whole life. What’s great about starting an accelerator in Melbourne?
Over the last 10 years I’ve spent a lot of time away in the U.S., Europe, and parts of Asia. I’ve just returned from living in London for the last two years, but you are right, Melbourne is my home town.
Beyond being a great city to live (the Economist keeps ranking it first or second in the world for most livable cities, so it must be true!), Melbourne has a thriving startup scene, especially in sport. I think that’s because sport really does define our culture in Melbourne (we can’t get enough of it), we are a wealthy country so that tends to make money readily available for investment, our sporting system is progressive when it comes to technology adoption, and our government is totally focused on making the State of Victoria overall and Melbourne in particular world leaders for SportsTech startups.
Want to know more? Here is a link to a report our government partner LaunchVic recently released to prove it: https://launchvic.org/files/The-SportsTech-Report.pdf
What are some of the biggest learnings from your career and entrepreneurial journey that you bring to being a Techstars MD?
You know what, there are so many that there’s really not the space on this page to do them all justice, and I think that’s because we experienced such a rollercoaster ride over our journey up until our exit.
But to name a few that immediately spring to mind: the importance of alignment on strategy and vision among founders, great lawyers cost but they will save you money down the road, ensure you are ready for POCs and delay if you’re not, sweat the detail on product, be confident you can back up valuation and don’t get too hung up on it, be comfortable in not having all the answers, seek the right advice from the right people, make quick decisions and move with pace, more often than not things will take longer than you want, big companies move slowly, great recruitment will make a company, move on poor performers quickly, find your way to relax and prioritize downtime, don’t forget you have friends and family.
What do Techstars partners Tennis Australia, Victoria University, and LaunchVic bring to the accelerator?
I genuinely believe our partners present an enormous opportunity to accelerate these businesses and will provide a fantastic launchpad for global growth. That can manifest in many ways, such as scientific validation, nailing product market fit, market testing, commercial partnerships, access to talent, or warm introductions to global sports organizations, teams, and athletes.
If you could meet one professional athlete, who would it be and why?
As a kid, one moment that had a lifelong impact on me was Ben Johnson at the Seoul Olympics. Ever since, I have had this fascination with drugs in sport. I think it’s to do with trying to understand the psyche of why some athletes make that choice.
But the athlete I would most want to meet is Lance Armstrong—one on one—with a large glass of truth serum. I don’t think we really understand what was going on in his mind back then and even more interestingly today, but I would love to know.
Learn more about the Techstars SportsTech Melbourne Accelerator at an AMA with Todd on November 20, 2019. Register here, or watch the replay: http://tsta.rs/iHBY50xbYZD