LA Dodgers Accelerator with R/GA Goes to Bat for Growth-Stage Companies

LA Business Journal

While the Los Angeles Dodgers’ baseball season ended last month, the second season of the club’s three-month accelerator program is nearing its grand finale.

The team will host a demo day on Nov. 10 at Cross Campus downtown for the five companies that completed the program, operated in partnership with R/GA Ventures, the accelerator arm of New York ad agency R/GA.

While last year’s 10-startup class, the accelerator’s first, included several early stage firms, the Dodgers this year decided to focus on growth-stage companies with the goal of helping them nurture partnerships and business development strategies.

The five participants included Greenfly Inc., a Santa Monica technology platform helping companies manage and distribute video content; Keemotion, a Belgium-based sports production firm; ShotTracker, a Merriam, Kan., company providing real-time info related to athlete performance; sports detergent maker Renegade Brands of Beachwood, Ohio; and WSC Sports Technologies, an Israel-based platform that creates customized videos for sports teams.

Jonathan Bradley, program director at R/GA Ventures in New York, said the accelerator’s new model will result in a demo day that looks and feels different from those hosted by traditional accelerators.

“In a normal demo day, they would be looking for and gearing their pitch toward getting investment,” he said. “In this case, a lot of that has already been developed throughout the course of the program. We’re leveraging the event to celebrate that success and continue it by creating new relationships with attendees.”

Bradley said R/GA and the Dodgers accepted fewer companies this year to better help the chosen firms develop their individual technologies and products through partnerships, many of which will be announced during demo day, along with some new funding rounds.

While last year’s class relocated to Los Angeles for the duration of the three-month program, much of the 2016 accelerator was conducted virtually, with companies working remotely from their existing headquarters or at other R/GA offices throughout the country.

The Dodgers are also ponying up more cash this time, too. The team has invested $120,000 into each participant in exchange for an equity stake of up to 6 percent, which is shared with R/GA. Last year, the club invested just $20,000 for an equity stake between 6 percent and 9 percent, which was also split with R/GA.

In addition to the third-party partnerships forged during the accelerator, Bradley said all five participants are either working with the Dodgers in some capacity or with the team’s extended ownership group.

“If we can leverage the program to help get those relationships off the ground, we see that as an extreme value add that you don’t see in a lot of these types of programs,” he said.

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