The only discussions that used to take place inside a football stadium tended to revolve around analyses of the team’s tactics or setting the manager’s budget for the season. Now it also provides the setting for inquisitive minds to explore new ideas in the worlds of technology, business, media, innovation, entrepreneurship and so much more.
It was only natural, then, that the DFL – as a leading pioneering force in sporting innovation and technological development – led the way when the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) chose to hold its first-ever Sports Entrepreneurship Bootcamp in Germany. TSG Hoffenheim’s PreZero Arena was the perfect venue for the event, given the innovative culture of the club itself. With the support of Sporttotal and another leading educational institution, WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management, all those involved helped deliver a ground-breaking event. MIT has set up numerous hugely successful boot camps all around the world, but this was their first to focus on sport-related content and market leaders in the sector. The DFL was more than happy to facilitate the event.
During a week-long high-speed learning programme focusing on innovation and entrepreneurship, 70 young professionals and entrepreneurs from 28 nations worked together on topics concerning the future of sport and technologies. The programme was implemented by experienced lecturers and coaches from MIT and WHU. By sharing ideas, developing concepts and taking inspiration from on-site experts, they learned the tools that are needed to build a venture that can flourish in the field of sports technology.
Throughout the week, they also heard addresses from keynote speakers including DFL CEO Christian Seifert, TSG CEO Peter Görlich, Ben Shields, a senior lecturer at MIT, Prof. Sascha L. Schmidt, Director of WHU’s Center for Sports and Management, and Guy Aharon, CEO and co-founder of PlayerMaker, who all gave their insights into the mindset required to become a successful entrepreneurial thinker.
DFL CEO Christian Seifert informed the ‘boot campers’ about the strategy of the Deutsche Fußball Liga to vertically integrate all elements of the media value chain within the organisation. Furthermore, he spoke about the need for sports leagues to be adaptable to meet future challenges such as changes in media consumption patterns, and the introduction of new device and distribution technologies, before taking questions from the enthusiastic delegates.
‘The DFL is an innovation pioneer in international professional sports, so the MIT Bootcamp was a perfect fit for our strategy and we were happy to be a partner of the event,’ says Christian Seifert. ‘Meeting people who are willing to think outside the box was also an inspiring experience for me. We had an intensive exchange on how international target groups and young generations assess the Bundesliga.’
At the end of a full and varied programme, the boot camp participants pitched ideas with strong concepts and solid business cases to a high-class jury of investors and CEOs. The ideas ranged from physical devices to app-based solutions. The winning team pitched for a platform that enables trust-based social contracts between family members, allowing them to commit to more quality time and reducing the children’s screen time.
The ‘boot campers’ have joined a wide-ranging network of more than 1,000 MIT Bootcamp alumni all around the world, receiving a certificate to acknowledge their participation in this pioneering event in Germany.