MINNEAPOLIS – In the early days of the COVID-19 lockdowns, the Minnesota Twins Office of Business Development looked for ways to grow the Twins brand beyond baseball. Last year, they launched the Minnesota Twins Accelerator by TechStars program to not only grow their brand, but to find new revenue streams outside of the game itself.
Chris Eales, senior director of brand experience and innovation for the Twins, talked about the program and what it has to offer participants.
“We’re looking to push the Minnesota Twins brand beyond baseball, and we see technology and investment as one of the ways to do that,” Eales said. This is our mechanism for investing in technology startups. During the three-year partnership with TechStars, the Minnesota twins will invest in more than 30 tech startups with the help of our friends at TechStars.
The Minnesota Twins Accelerator by Techstars started its second class of participants this week as the program runs from now until February 15, 2023. This year’s class features 10 different entrepreneurs, seven from across the US, one from the UK, one from Nigeria. And another international entrepreneur. Most of the participants are also from historically marginalized people groups.
Extending the Twins brand beyond baseball with a group like this is one of the most unique things the franchise does off the diamond. Only one other MLB team has experienced such an investment before, the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2015.
Ailes shared that when MLB and other major sports shut down in the spring of 2020 due to the pandemic, it gave the front office staff a chance to review the investment the Dodgers had already made to do what the Twins are doing now. . .
“The Covid lockdowns have given us the opportunity to step back and really spend some time thinking about our business. We did a very extensive brand evolution exercise here with the help of a local agency called Zeus Jones. “One of the ideas that came out of that was the accelerator and got us to where we are now.”
While the program focuses on helping entrepreneurs, it also adds to the fan experience at Target Field in ways Twins fans may not have noticed.
One of the participants in last year’s class was AWSM Sauce, a sauce company focused on producing zero-waste sauces. Their products were featured in all concession stands at the Delta 360 Sky Legends Club this season.
Along with providing a new platform for entrepreneurs to explore their craft, Gemini Office sees this program as an additional revenue stream for the organization. While the revenue stream is something the Twins won’t see a return on for at least half a decade, as Ailes explained, it could hypothetically be revenue for player salaries.
“It’s a long-running show that we won’t see coming back for another six to 10 years.” I liken it to when a major leaguer or when a player gets drafted and you’re not going to see them in the big leagues for six years. In fact, this is the timeline we are dealing with these companies. “So yes, in theory, it could come down to player salaries, but we’re a long way from seeing the payoff of this particular program.”
With ten new entrepreneurial programs that lead the way to networking in the Twin Cities and developing their ideas into a full-fledged business. They will also be vying for an opportunity to become part of the fan experience at Target Field for the 2023 season.
An exhibition day will be hosted to conclude the program on Wednesday, February 15, 2023, at the Fillmore just down the street from the north end of Target Field.