In the Press… The Start Up Network

A Q&A with Rebecca Hopkins: Launching the STA Startups

Rebecca Hopkins, founder of the Sports Technology Awards, spoke to us about the decision to reward innovation and excellence from start-up companies in particular.


The new STA Start Up Awards include 15 separate categories and are open to the whole range of new sports tech businesses, from bootstraps to those with newly received Series A funding.


How long has the Sports Technology Awards been going?


The first awards were launched in 2013, with the first ceremony taking place in 2014.


What prompted you to form the awards?


Throughout my career, I have worked on a variety of awards, including Van of the Year and the International WINE Challenge, then I started the Sports Industry Awards in 2002 before selling it to start ENS, my PR agency (which is now the UK’s longest-standing, independent sports boutique).


This meant I knew the power of a good awards initiative and, having seen the degree to which innovative tech was changing the sports sector, spotted the gap in the market and went for it. We also enjoyed the added benefit of giving ENS a different dimension.


You have recently spun off sports tech startups as a separate category – can you tell us more about what prompted this move?


We’ve always been pleased by the degree to which SMEs have been able to compete with very large, established organisations at the Sports Technology Awards (35% of all winners are SMEs), but we were concerned that the awards weren’t providing a robust enough platform for start-ups across the board. The term ‘Start Ups’ covers everything from bootstraps to Series A and we felt that we could serve this sector a lot better with awards just for them.


What type of companies are you hoping to attract within this category?


The Start Ups will have 15 categories spanning all key aspects of sports and will be open to any start-up business:

which is funded at any level from bootstrap to no more than three months from receiving a Series A

which is less than three years old

whose board includes at least one founder with majority shares

which has annual revenues of less than $10m.

The judging process will be the same as at the Sports Technology Awards – i.e. online, impartial and expert, but will be different in that we will stream entries by declared annual revenue.


Entries into each category will be split into two groups: US$0–$3m and $3.1m–$10m. Both groups will be reviewed and a winner will be determined. The two ‘winners’ of each group will then be compared to determine an overall winner.


What will a start-up company gain from entry, and ultimately, what will the winner receive?


Having seen the difference that success at the Sports Technology Awards has made to shortlisted or winning companies, we know that the STA Start Up Awards has the power to do the same. Our brand is now an internationally recognised mark of excellence, which provides a tangible, commercial point of difference, meaning winning companies can use their award’s success to accelerate sales, elevate customer conversations, inspire employees and assure/attract investors.