The Twins will help technology startups through a new business accelerator that will give the companies experience and a funding boost.
The Minnesota Twins Accelerator by Techstars will be the first accelerator of its kind in Minnesota sports, according to the organization, and just the second to be operated and funded by a Major League Baseball team.
Joe Pohlad, the Twins executive vice president of brand strategy and growth, whose family owns the Twins, said the accelerator will enable the organization to embed itself at the intersection of technology, sports and entertainment.
It also will help increase and diversify its fan base, he said.
"We have been looking at ways to grow our brand," Pohlad said. "It's really an organization-wide effort to grow the overall Twins experience beyond baseball."
Techstars is a nationally ranked startup accelerator and venture fund that has worked with other companies in the Twin Cities on other similar programs.
Techstars previously partnered with Target Corp. on a retailer accelerator, and also launched the Techstars Farm to Fork Accelerator in partnership with Cargill and Ecolab and the UnitedHealthcare Accelerator.
The Twins have signed on for three years for the accelerator program. The accelerator would bring entrepreneurs from across the globe to the Twin Cities for 13 weeks at a time.
The business founders then would have access to tools, advice and advice to grow their firms, plus investments from both organizations.
In addition to investing in the companies, the Twins have an opportunity to become early users of the technology created by the 30 businesses that will be selected to participate in the program over the next three years, giving the franchise tools to grow its brand on and off the field.
The technology created by the entrepreneurs could be used for on-field baseball operations, as well as fan engagement, venue management and digital media.
"As we get deeper into this partnership with Techstars and are able to interact with these entrepreneurs, I think we'll be able to find and work with startups that will be able to solve some of the challenges that we have and some of the challenges we're not even aware that we have," Pohlad said.
The team did not disclose how much it will invest in each startup. The accelerator will be based in the Twin Cities, but a location has not been determined, Pohlad said.
The Twins are ranked 19th in value among the 30 MLB teams at $1.32 billion, and generated $111 million in revenue last year in a pandemic-shortened season, per Forbes.
The organizations will begin accepting applications on May 10 for the first cohort of 10 startups.
Chris Iles, the Twins' senior director of brand experience and innovation, and Austin Schwartz, the team's manager of partnership sales, will run the day-to-day operations of the accelerator for the baseball club.
Multiple members of the Twins and Pohlad Cos. C-Suite, including Twins Chief Executive Dave St. Peter, will serve as mentors to the entrepreneurs.
"We strive to be an industry leader and we strive to be innovative, and we believe this partnership with Techstars is a great opportunity to infuse innovation into our organization," Pohlad said.
Nick Williams • 612-673-4021