Data-driven fan intelligence firm Sports Innovation Lab has closed a new funding round led by Elysian Park Ventures, the investing arm of the Los Angeles Dodgers owners, and Eileen Murray, former co-CEO of Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund.
The specific amount raised by the Boston-based company wasn’t disclosed, though Sports Innovation Lab says its total funding is now $5.8 million after the new round. According to PitchBook, the business raised $2.2 million in seed funding previously. Four-time Olympic medalist Angela Ruggiero launched the market intelligence firm in 2017 with former Forrester Research executive Josh Walker.
Elysian Park’s participants include Dodgers owners Mark Walter, Magic Johnson, Todd Boehly, Peter Guber, Stan Kasten and Robert Patton. The venture has invested in more than two dozen sports-related businesses, including DraftKings and SeatGeek. Murray helped lead the $140 billion-assets Bridgewater, founded by billionaire Ray Dalio, from 2011 to 2019 as co-CEO. She is currently a public governor at FINRA, one of the federal regulators of the securities industry, and on the board of real estate tech firm Compass, HSBC and Guardian Life Insurance.
Joining them in the deal is Italian media magnate and Leeds United majority owner Andrea Radrizzani, who participated in the investment through his Aser Ventures, a sports-focused VC firm. ESG-focused investment fund Gaingels and marketing outfit R/GA are among other firms taking a position in Sports Innovation Lab. NBA veterans Pau Gasol and Shane Battier also bought into the business, as did DraftKings co-founder Jason Robins and former Ernst & Young vice-chair of public policy, Beth Brooke. Alyssa Milano, actress and founder of sports-fashion maker Touch by Alyssa Milano, rounds out the publicly disclosed participants in the funding.
“I’m dedicated to seeing gender equity in my lifetime,” Milano said in a press release to accompany the official announcement later this morning. “I’m thrilled to be an investor in Sports Innovation Lab as they continue their important work in unlocking the business potential of women’s sports.”
Providing insight into the motivations and behaviors of women’s sports fans has been one of the focuses of Ruggiero’s firm, including “fluid fans” who are early adopters by necessity of interacting and consuming sports through non-traditional avenues. Previous investors have included Firehouse Capital, Golden Seeds and Seattle Sounders co-owner Peter Tomozawa.
Elysian Park’s managing director Cole Van Nice cited data-driven fan behavior insights as a highlight of Sports Innovation Lab’s efforts. The company also this year formed a Women’s Sports Leadership Board, which gathers some two dozen executives from leagues, media and consumer brands to focus on commercializing women’s sports.
“Our data platform and behavioral analysis are providing a new lens through which teams, leagues and brands can understand their fans and provide breakthrough fan experiences,” said Ruggiero, a former ice hockey player with two degrees from Harvard University. “The sports industry is evolving rapidly because technology is changing fan behaviors.”