The collaboration promotes a series of initiatives to empower women-led startups in sports tech,  promote female entrepreneurship, and support founders in the fundraising process.

Orlando, US – August 27, 2020 – leAD Sports and Health Tech Partners has announced a partnership with Women in Sports Tech Inc., a pioneer in driving growth opportunities for women in the sports tech landscape, to further support female founders. This collaboration represents an industry first, where an investment platform will drive its diversity objectives around women through a strategic alliance.  

“As early-stage investors, we look closely at the team behind the idea or product. It is all about the people that can execute the grand vision,” said Christoph Sonnen, leAD Co-Founder and CEO, ADvantage Sports Tech Fund Partner. “Research has shown that diverse teams are more profitable, more successful; therefore, diversity is an important matter that needs to be taken into consideration in our investments and internally as a company. Every year, female founders account for less than 10 percent of the applications we receive for our programs. It is not enough. We are working towards changing that and hope that joining forces with WiST, an outstanding group focused on tackling this issue in the sports tech market, will help us do even better.”

Together, leAD and WiST will embark on several joint initiatives to engage and bolster female entrepreneurs. Through the active participation of its members, WiST brings diversity and industry expertise to leAD’s startup mentoring and selection processes. In addition, leAD will offer to host a 2021 WiST Sports Tech Fellow as part of WiST’s fast-growing internship fellowship program for college and graduate school students. The strategic alliance also will include jointly-produced content and events that provide mentorship, inspiration, and industry information for aspiring female entrepreneurs.  

“We are thrilled to see an investor with a major portfolio in sports tech like leAD step up and make bringing female entrepreneurs into their portfolio and the industry not just a goal, but a true strategic imperative. Frankly, we need to see every tech investor follow their lead,” said Marilou McFarlane, WiST’s Founder. “50% of the U.S. labor force, sports fans, and student athletes are women, and yet females represent only a small fraction of the professionals in a sports tech industry that’s projected to reach $30 billion by 2024. WiST is leading a movement of men and women who are committed to our mission to #ChangeTheRatio.” 

According to the 2020 Women in US Technology Leadership Report, only 14% of US startups have a female CEO, while 35% of US VC firms have a female partner. Only 1 in 4 US startups have a woman on the founding team. Both leAD and WiST are committed to changing the ratio in this industry, by amplifying the female voices in the industry and creating more opportunities for women to lead.

Female founders, rising sports tech leaders, and industry veterans are encouraged to get involved with WiST and leAD:

Entrepreneurs: Apply to the leAD Lake Nona Academy by September 4. 

Sign up to join the WiST community or donate to support our mission.


About leAD

leAD Sports & Health Tech Partners sources, funds, and drives growth of early-stage sports & health tech startups globally. leAD was founded in 2016 and was inspired by the legend of the sports industry Adi Dassler. Since inception, leAD has taken on new companies into its business every year. With 30 companies from around the globe under its portfolio, leAD is constantly empowering founders to create their own legacy. leAD works with groundbreaking solutions across the verticals of fan engagement, connected athletes, and health & well-being and focuses on driving growth through smart investment, premier network access, and expert training. leAD has three three investment vehicles – Academy, Portfolio, and ADvantage Fund – and commercial partnerships with Citi Private Bank, Tavistock Group, OurCrowd, and Lake Nona to further support portfolio growth.

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About WiST

WiST is a non-profit organization driving growth opportunities for women in sports tech and innovation, from interns to executive leadership roles. WiST’s flagship initiative, the Women in Sports Tech Fellowship program, provides grants for highly motivated college and graduate school students to pursue summer projects in sports technology. In 2020, WiST awarded 15 fellowships, nearly quadrupling the number of grants over 2019. Corporate support for WiST includes Nike, IBM Sports, the NBA, Spartan Race, and Catapult Sports.

Additional WiST programs include a job listings platform to target and attract female applicants in the industry, as well as hosting panels at conferences and events globally on a wide range of sports technology topics. WiST has provided an array of diverse panelists for events  at Hashtag Sports, CES, MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, the Stanford Graduate School of Business Sports Innovation Conference, and more.

For more information, please visit

Media contacts

leAD | Fernanda Bartels – Head of Communications | 

WiST | Glenna Patton – Marketing/Communications |