Second SportCon Highlights Analytics All Stars

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Timed perfectly amidst swelling Super Bowl hysteria, the second SportCon from Minneanalytics was a strong showing for the state’s prolific sports data community.

This year’s event took place last Friday within the halls of Optum’s prodigious Eden Prairie campus. Like the inaugural iteration, this years SportCon 2018 was free to attend for all, and offered something for everyone.

While references to the looming big game at U.S. Bank Stadium were frequent, the scope of this sports analytics conference extended well beyond the gridiron, and even professional leagues in general.

SportCon’s agenda covered every base, from predictive injury analytics to fan segmentation to data applications across every sport you can think of. The biggest challenge for attendees this time was the same as last: picking which sessions to sit in on. Throughout the day, there were always about a half-dozen taking place simultaneously.

In the morning, Minneanalytics board member Graeme Thickins hosted a series of startup demos in one of Optum’s many conference rooms, showcasing some of the sector’s most promising up-and-comers in Minnesota and beyond.  Among the local ventures on display:

FanMaker, whose founder Jason Cole outlined his vision for shaping fan loyalty through customized loyalty programs

InsureGame, the insurance-focused evolution of Tyrre Burks’s injury management platform formerly known as Player’s Health

Starting 11’s sleekly designed daily fantasy app for soccer, presented by Teague Orgeman

UnderRecruited Preps, a solution from Francis Kanneh that connects non-elite high school athletes to collegiate opportunities

Of course, given that Minneapolis (sadly) hosted two out-of-towners for the Super Bowl, it was only fitting the lineup included several startups of outside origins.

New York-based Oculogica (whose founder Uzma Samadani is Associate Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Minnesota) has developed potentially revolutionary eye-tracking tech that can diagnose concussions without requiring a baseline.

Fishidy, out of Madison, helps anglers find hot spots to cast their lures via crowdsourced social media recommendations.

Hailing from Michigan, MaxOne Training is an online coaching tool that enables personalized training at scale.

After the demos, SportsEngine cofounder Carson Kipfer moderated a panel in which three founders who presented last year – Burks, Todd Larson of TeamGenius, and Nick Kartos of GymDandy – discussed the progress of their businesses. You can learn more about all three in our Ultimate Guide to SportsTech in Minnesota v1.

It was great to see the folks at Minneanalytics follow up their successful first SportCon with an equally exceptional encore. These events make it clear that the cross-section of sports and data is finding tremendous traction in the Twin Cities.

As the niche keeps growing larger, and more interlinked, this gathering will only feel more necessary. We’re already counting the clock to 2019.

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