leAD Sports & Health Tech Partners sources, funds, and drives growth of early-stage sports & health tech startups globally. leAD works with groundbreaking solutions across the verticals of fan engagement, connected athletes, and health & well-being.
Inspired by Adi Dassler, leAD launched its first program in 2017. leAD focuses on driving growth through smart investment, premier network access, and expert training in the following core principles: leadership, commercial, finance, legal & IP, fundraising, and strategy. leAD has three investment vehicles – Academy, Portfolio, and ADvantage Fund.
Our worldwide network of shareholders, investors and partners enables us to tap into local ecosystems and increase visibility of the leAD ecosystem in the most important markets for startups.
"The way leAD supports its startups is pure passion, purpose, and professionalism. I love when you make a business out of things that are actually contributing to society, the health of people, and well-being. It’s the best of all worlds. " - Claudia Hillmeier, leAD Shareholder
"In an age where disruption has become the norm, leAD is the home for founders, brands, and investors who want to be part of the sports & health tech growth story. Our Academy is dedicated to finding the companies of the future for our shareholders and partners. Our Portfolio companies continue to deliver impressive growth as the leAD companies become collectively worth over a billion dollars. Our Funds, the ADvantage Fund and the Lake Nona Fund, are great sources of capital for the world’s leading sports tech founders. - Andrew White, leAD Chairman
"Entrepreneurship at its best is a team sport. Without the right players, coaches, and supporters, we wouldn't be where we are today. Our high caliber stakeholders – investors, partners, mentors with a wide range of expertise in sports and health – in combination with our unique investor club, bringing network, capital, and invaluable experience to the table, are a major part of our success and growth." - Christoph Sonnen, leAD Co-Founder & CEO
Our ever-growing team consists of experts in their respective fields – from strategy, innovation, and entrepreneurship to project management, marketing, and communication. They make the daily running of leAD possible, and they have one thing in common: whether it'll be a special interest in sports tech, health, nutrition, trying out new sports, or focusing on one in particular – they're all fueled by a passion for sports.
With a passion for sports and lifestyle and a knack for business, Christoph looks back at over twenty years of founding, managing and structuring businesses. He is a venture capital expert with a passion for great business ideas, startups, and early-stage investment. Christoph is also a Partner at the ADvantage Sports Tech Fund.
Anne joined leAD with a strong background in the startup and VC world. After starting her career in banking, she worked for an eCommerce shop and became part of the startup world very fast. Taking the chance to be part of the most disruptive part of the economy fascinated her. She invested in several FinTech and HealthTech companies and was responsible for all financial processes within a Munich-based VC. She took the opportunity to join leAD as Finance Director to combine her experiences in finance and investing with her passion for sports. Anne loves to support entrepreneurs especially when it comes to questions in finance or fundraising as well as keeping all things in place for leAD.
Prior to joining as the principal, Thomas Rudy has been a mentor to leAD since 2017. He is the Co-Founder of WhiteRock, a sports and entertainment M&A advisory firm. In 2020, he was voted one of the top 25 experts in SportsTech in the North American SportsTech Report. Furthermore, he is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner of New York-based venture capital fund Elevate Innovation Partners. Rudy’s career in sports investment banking started at Citigroup assisting owners in buying and selling professional teams. He graduated from the College at Columbia University in New York City in 2006 with a B.A. in Economics.
Preston has a successful track record for managing new technology business ventures across the global sports and entertainment ecosystem. Previously, he has successfully launched, raised capital and exited multiple sports-tech startups. Maintaining an extensive network with professional sports leagues, teams, owners, properties, entertainment partners and broadcast and media content disruptors, Preston assists leAD in the overall growth of the commercial business and partnership efforts globally.
After a brief trip into the agency world, Nathalie soon immersed herself in the founders’ scene to live her passion for fast-paced environments and strategy in unfamiliar terrain by working for startups both in the U.S. and Germany. As Program and Marketing Director at leAD, she gets to combine her personal interest in sports with this diverse experience and leverage it – to help promising early sports startups to grow and succeed.
Alex graduated from the University of St. Gallen, one of the leading business schools in Europe, where he received his Master’s degree in Accounting and Finance. He’s involved in several family initiatives to preserve the legacy of his great-grandfather. Alex is also Principal at the ADvantage Sports Tech Fund.
Aaron is an experienced early-stage investor. He has negotiated and executed more than 15 investments, ranging from pre-seed to Series A in the realm of sports tech. He holds a master’s degree with distinctions in Strategic Entrepreneurship from Rotterdam School of Management and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Mannheim. Aaron is a sports fanatic and has a tennis coaching license.
Bringing a diverse marketing background to leAD including 15 years of agency, consulting, sports property, and international brand marketing experience, Kendel joins the team from adidas International, where she was Director of Brand Communications for the Reebok brand in Europe. She has developed and executed successful brand growth strategies, go-to-market approaches, product launches, tactical sales initiatives, partnerships, and both brand building and revenue generating programs. leAD presents the greatest opportunity to combine her career mission of bringing vision and big ideas to life for game changing organizations with her personal mission of maximizing human potential through sports, health & wellness technology.
Kristen is a hospitality and sales professional, having worked for Fortune 500 companies before immersing herself in the start-up world, where she launched a national company in Orlando. Kristen's focus will be leaning on her passion to bring people together through developing and nurturing partnerships with leAD on all different levels. She is excited to bring her love of sports into her professional life and to help grow leAD's presence in the Orlando/Lake Nona area.
Mina has 4+ years of experience in accelerators and sourcing market-leading technologies for brands like Google, Arsenal Football Club, and British Airways. She has worked on 28 different innovation programs resulting in startups piloting their solutions in a live environment, continued by securing investment and commercial agreements.
Matthew comes from a healthcare background and holds a Master’s degree in Sports and Exercise Medicine from the University of Glasgow, Scotland. He has experienced the Berlin startup scene first-hand as a founder, having gone through an accelerator program with a previous venture. As well as understanding the benefits of health tech in today’s world, he is also passionate about sports, both as a player and a spectator. These attributes help him in identifying potential promising startups, as well as accompanying them through each stage of our accelerator program.
Lucy graduated from Duke University, where she developed her excitement about the sports industry and of course, Duke basketball. She then received her MBA and Masters of Sport Administration from Ohio University, the number one sports Masters program in the US. At leAD, she can combine her interest in innovative business, sports and fitness.
Prior to leAD, CiCi was a professional tennis player, reaching a career high WTA ranking of #35. She received her bachelor’s degree in finance from Indiana University and her interest in venture capital stems from having grown up in Silicon Valley. CiCi offers a unique perspective with her background and is always looking for ways to merge the worlds of sports and venture capital.
Prior to leAD, Andre has worked in the commercial banking world with a Big 4 bank and in the venture world at an Orlando-based VC fund. Andre brings 3+ years of experience working with business finance and operations teams. Andre currently holds a bachelor’s degree in Finance from the University of Central Florida where he developed his love of sports, especially UCF football.
Prior to leAD, Justin has worked in the entrepreneurial world for a baseball startup, in the corporate world at a Fortune 500 company, and in the venture world at an Orlando-based VC fund. Justin brings 3 years of experience in strategy and finance. Justin currently holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from Rollins College and is working towards completing his Master's in Business Administration. Justin is a collegiate baseball player and sports lover at heart.
Dirk brings in a variety of expertise from different angles, ranging from sports, fun, excitement, and digital to legal and management. He is a lawyer by profession and gained broad entrepreneurial, management, and legal experience spanning from investment banking and law firms to in-house legal and consultancy functions. He holds a doctoral degree from the University of Lucerne/Switzerland.
Makeylah is a free-spirited, lively, and outgoing woman who enjoys working within the customer service realm. Prior to beginning her journey at leAD, Makeylah worked as a personal assistant within the food and beverage industry. She has entrepreneurial ambitions and would like to have her own successful business one day.
We leverage our network to source relevant mentor relations for each startup. By truly understanding our startups’ needs, strengths & weaknesses, we can connect them with accomplished entrepreneurs, corporates, and investors.
leAD creates impact and fuels growth for entrepreneurs, investors, corporates, and global brands. We are proud to partner up with industry leaders, innovation pioneers, and build our foundation on driving business growth to shape the future of sports, health, and entertainment.