HomeTeamLive has scored a more than $450,000 pre-seed round for its artificial intelligence-powered cameras that film amateur sports leagues and stream the game to viewers at home.
HomeTeamLive refused to disclose its investors, noting only that high net-worth investors, as well as angels from Saskatchewan and across western Canada, funded the startup. The startup said the round, which closed December 31, closed 200 percent higher than the goal HomeTeamLive set.
“I think they’ve all experienced the problem we’re solving, which is you can’t always watch your kids’ sports, you can’t always be in the venues.”
The funds will aid in the development of HomeTeamLive’s software, the building of apps for IOS and Android, and for operations costs and hardware.
Tanner Goetz, HomeTeamLive’s co-founder and CEO, said the startup’s idea resonated with investors. “I think they’ve all experienced the problem we’re solving, which is you can’t always watch your kids’ sports, you can’t always be in the venues.”
Goetz said factors such as a business trip or COVID-19 can prevent parents from being able to attend their children’s sports games.
“They [the investors] really agreed with the business model that we have, and our projections, they make sense,” Goetz said.
Co-founded by Goetz and Logan Fraser, HomeTeam Live’s streaming software provides broadcast-quality video for amateur sports, allowing parents, family, coaches, athletes, fans, and scouts the ability to log in and watch events from anywhere in the world.
Goetz and Fraser developed the idea for HomeTeam Live after working in sports marketing for the last 10 years and noticing a lack of quality in streaming for sports leagues.
When the pandemic hit in March 2020, the two founders knew the idea to live stream amateur sports would be in greater demand as audiences were unable to attend events.
HomeTeamLive gains permission to have its cameras installed in sports venues. Goetz said it’s a bit of a “construction job” in the beginning, but noted that once the cameras are in place they don’t need to return to the venues.
The AI-operated cameras track the play and automatically stream the gameplay to HomeTeamLive’s app.
Currently, the 20-person startup is only in two venues, but Goetz claims it will be in four more venues by month-end with more in the pipeline.
Goetz describes the startup as sports agnostic, but believes the main ones HomeTeamLive will end up covering are basketball, soccer, volleyball, hockey, and gymnastics. That said, HomeTeamLive is open to covering anything sports-related. “If it’s in the venue, we’ll stream it,” Goetz said.
The startup has its sights set on sports leagues such as Hockey Regina, which is a minor league, but also believes the model could work well on the junior level of sports play. “I don’t think the NHL, NBA, or the NFL is really our target market at all,” Goetz said. “But I think the level underneath that, that’s the target.”
In terms of getting into venues, the biggest challenge is they are often city-owned, which means getting approval from civic boards to film within the venue. “Generally, they’re all very excited about it, and want to go ahead with it,” Goetz said. “But there’s a few hoops with city regulations. Just because a league says, ‘Yeah, we want streaming,’ doesn’t mean you can just roll up to a rink and install it.”
RELATED: Sports and live audience engagement startup StellarAlgo secures $16.5 million Series A
HomeTeamLive’s app supports advertising, and the startup markets its streaming service to league managers. However, revenues currently come from parents and others subscribing to the app.
Goetz and Fraser founded HomeTeamLive in June 2021 after having spent years working in sports marketing. Goetz did video production, live streaming and social media marketing while Fraser worked on the sales and sponsorship side of things. “So we meshed the two together,” Goetz said.
The startup is housed in the Cultivator powered by Conexus, and just graduated from the incubator’s Start program, a three-month, pre-revenue tech accelerator program, and is about to enter the Grow program. The latter is a 12 to 24-month program for founders fully committed to their startup, have a product in the market, and are generating revenue under $250,000 annually.
HomeTeamLive was in cohort five of the incubator, and won demo day for its cohort, taking home $10,000 in the process.
Goetz said he doesn’t have kids himself, but grew up playing sports, and had a friend who played basketball in Alberta. “I definitely would have paid to be able to watch him,” Goetz said. “Even my parents, they’ve gone on trips, and they’ve missed some of my games. I can see the need [for the HomeTeamLive app].”
Goetz said HomeTeamLive’s plan calls for them to be in 50 venues in 2022. The big challenge for the startup is how it scales to that size. “We want to be able to provide them with good service, customer support, and give the viewers a good viewing experience,” Goetz said. “When we add those venues we just want to make sure that it’s all done properly.”