Backing from NBA gives Calgary startup StellarAlgo a shot at the big leagues

News & Media

Jan 19, 2023


From The Logic

On Wednesday, the National Basketball Association announced it had taken an equity stake in StellarAlgo, a Calgary-based data company that helps professional sports teams better understand and predict the spending habits of fans.

The NBA’s investment is a major vote of confidence for the startup, whose early backers include Vancouver-based venture capital fund Yaletown Partners and Calgary’s InterGen and Thin Air Labs. In an interview with The Logic, StellarAlgo co-founder Vincent Ircandia declined to specify the size of the NBA’s stake, but said it was “significant.”

What does StellarAlgo do? 

The company draws together reams of commercial data from various sources like ticketing agencies, online stores and fantasy sports leagues, then provides it to professional sports teams and organizations to help them target specific segments of their fanbases for promotions, sponsorships and ads.

“We really want our platform to be the anchor-point for building authentic, long-term relationships with the world’s four billion fans,” said Ircandia, who co-founded StellarAlgo with Joseph King and Sean Fynn.

What’s the big deal? 

StellarAlgo already had partnerships with four NBA teams: the Milwaukee Bucks, Brooklyn Nets, Sacramento Kings and Portland Trail Blazers, for whom Ircandia used to work as head of business operations and analytics. (Other pro sports clients include the National Hockey League’s Vancouver Canucks and Major League Baseball’s New York Yankees.)

The NBA deal includes a multi-year contract which expands that potential client base, potentially giving StellarAlgo access to all of the league’s 30 franchises.

StellarAlgo last raised money in 2021, announcing a $16.5-million Series A that November led by Toronto’s Carallas Holdings. The company currently employs 80 people.

James Lochrie of Thin Air Labs told The Logic the deal will give StellarAlgo access to some of the “most loyal customers in the world,” and opens the door to the global US$200-billion professional sports industry where it can try to give teams better return on investment on things like sponsorship deals.

“This validates the business from a highly reputable customer that has global reach in their international leads and development leads,” he said.

The NBA’s play: 

The StellarAlgo investment is part of the NBA’s broader push into investing, after the league launched a new investment arm, NBA Equity, in late 2021.

NBA Equity has since invested a total of around US$1 billion in nearly 20 companies.

StellarAlgo’s Ircandia was reluctant to tell The Logic which NBA team he personally cheers for, but acknowledged a penchant for the Trail Blazers, his former employer. Though the franchise has yet to win a championship with their longtime star point guard Damian Lillard, Ircandia said he likes that the team has stayed focused on building a winner around him.

“I just love that they’ve hung onto him and he’s been so committed to the community and to the city. It’s kind of a unique thing in sports.”

— View the original article on The Logic.

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