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The Challenges of Raising Capital for Sports Tech Startups in 2024

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In 2024, the economic landscape presents unique challenges for start ups seeking sports tech investment. The current climate is characterized by high interest rates, inflation, and market volatility, all of which contribute to a complex and often daunting environment for emerging companies. 

Capital is the lifeblood of any startup, and for those in the sports tech sector, securing the necessary funding is more critical than ever. 

We’ll cover some specific hurdles that sports tech startups face in 2024, like shifting investor expectations and intense competition for funding, in order to provide a comprehensive overview of the landscape and explore potential strategies for overcoming these obstacles. 

Whether you’re an entrepreneur in sports tech or an investor looking to navigate this turbulent market, this analysis will offer valuable insights into the road ahead.

Economic Challenges

In 2024, sports tech startups face significant economic hurdles primarily driven by high interest rates, inflation, and market volatility.

High Interest Rates

With interest rates remaining high, borrowing money is more expensive, making it more expensive for startups to finance their growth. This is particularly challenging for startups that rely on loans to expand their operations. 

As serial founder and investor Jason Lemkin notes, venture capitalists (VCs) have used up much of their reserve capital for bridge rounds over the past couple of years, adding stress to startups struggling to secure new funding​. 


Inflation continues to drive up operational costs across the board. From rising wages to increased prices for materials and technology, startups must navigate these higher expenses while maintaining competitive pricing. This challenge becomes magnified, especially for startups with limited financial flexibility​

Market Volatility

The fluctuating market environment has shaken investor confidence, making them more cautious about where they allocate their funds. According to SaaStr, startups seeking valuations above $200 million are fewer and fewer, as investors are less willing to take risks on high valuations without clear paths to significant returns. 

This risk-averse approach, combined with the ongoing focus on AI unicorns trying to cut upfront costs through AI utilization, absorbs much of the available venture capital, leaving less for other sectors​. 

These economic conditions demand that sports tech startups be more strategic and resilient than ever. It’s a balancing act of taking advantage of current market trends and drilling down into the fundamentals of your idea. 

Investor Expectations

sports tech investment expectations, hands shaking

In 2024, sports tech startups face increased scrutiny and higher expectations from investors and VCs. Here are the key areas where investor expectations have shifted:

Increased Due Diligence

Investors are now more cautious and thorough in their evaluations. With the market tightening, they emphasize understanding a business’s core fundamentals before committing to investments. Cordero Barkley from TitletownTech advises startups to focus on strong business fundamentals and efficiency, leveraging AI to enhance operations and create value​.  

Demand for Proven Metrics

Showing traction, revenue growth, and a clear path to profitability is more critical than ever. Investors seek solid evidence of sustainable business models before coughing up big bucks. According to insights from Sports Loft, companies are expected to demonstrate potential and tangible results in areas such as audience engagement and monetization.

Focus on Sustainable Growth

The hype cycle of rapid, unproven growth is over. Investors prefer startups that prioritize sustainability and long-term stability. Basics like good hiring practices still matter dramatically. 

As Mat Cole from Edge VC suggests, “If I could suggest one hire to make if you don’t already have one, hire an elite strategic CFO – someone who challenges the CEO and sees around the corners.” 

Strategic Fundraising

Conserving cash and extending the runway is essential. With the current market conditions making fundraising difficult, Andrew Hippert from Techstars Sports advises startups to be strategic about their valuation and to focus on reaching key inflection points that can attract the right investors. He also emphasizes crafting a compelling story to engage potential investors​. 

These investor expectations highlight the need for sports tech startups to be more strategic, data-driven, and resilient, ensuring they are well-prepared to meet the rigorous demands of the current investment landscape.

The Sports Tech Startup Field is Filled With Challenges

Navigating the challenging economic landscape of 2024 requires sports tech startups to be strategic, resilient, and innovative. High interest rates, inflation, and market volatility pose significant hurdles, demanding careful financial planning and operational efficiency. Investors are more cautious, seeking proven metrics and sustainable growth over hype and unproven potential.

To thrive, startups must focus on strong business fundamentals, leverage AI to enhance operations, and maintain a strategic approach to fundraising. By understanding and adapting to these expectations, sports tech startups can position themselves for success even in a turbulent market. 

Given the challenges sports tech startup founders have to navigate in this economy, delegation is even more important. Founders can’t do EVERYTHING, so they have to take something off their plate. 

Augmentation and outsourcing through Locker Room Labs is a great way to take things off your plate. Locker Room Labs can serve as a full-scale partner who walks alongside you from ideation to IPO, or as a consultative partner who helps you get over one small hump. However you need us to work with you, we’ll work with you. 

Do you need to focus on capital and concept? Then leave the development work to us. Let’s talk

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