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Emerging Technologies that are Disrupting the World of Sports

Sports Business

The Future of Sports: Myles Grote of Upper Hand On The New Emerging Technologies That Are Disrupting The World Of Sports

This article was initially published by Authority Magazine.


New technologies have changed the way we engage in and watch sports. Sensors, Wearable Tech, Video Assistant Referees (VAR), and Instant Replay, are examples of new technologies that have changed the way we play and watch sports.

In this interview series called, “The Future of Sports; New Emerging Technologies That Are Disrupting The World Of Sports,” we are talking to sports leaders, athletes, sports tech experts, and sports equipment companies who can talk about the new technologies that are reshaping the sports world. As a part of this interview, we had the pleasure of interviewing Myles Grote.

After graduating from IU Kelley School of Business with a Finance degree, Myles started his career at a FinTech SaaS company in Chicago, and has since spent all 15 years of his career in software. He has served in roles ranging from Chief Operating Officer to Customer Support Representative, allowing him to develop a unique & broad exposure of how all of the roles within a SaaS company interact with product.

Grote co-founded Upper Hand in 2012 and currently serves as the Chief Product Officer. For more information, visit upperhand.com.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

While attending the IU KSOB in Bloomington, IN, I attended a callout meeting for a new half marathon that some students were trying to get off the ground. I ran cross and track growing up, so it seemed like a natural fit. At that first call out meeting was when I met my now business partner, Kevin MacCauley. He was the main driving force behind the race, which was eventually deemed the IU Mini Marathon. In an effort to weed out posers that just wanted to build their resume by showing up to meetings and doing nothing, Kevin asked me to meet him at Starbucks at 6am on a Saturday morning. This is college, mind you. I was dedicated, excited and really wanted to get involved, so I showed up.

From there on out, we created and built the first ever collegiate-hosted half marathon in the country, which funded the largest scholarship for cancer survivors in the country. To this day, it was really one of the most meaningful things I’ve ever done. Kevin and I remained great friends and ended up living together in Chicago after school. Like your quintessential visionary, he consistently peppered me with ideas for businesses that he wanted to start. I swatted all of them away until I heard the concept of bookacoach: A marketplace to connect private sports coaches with parents & athletes. At this point in time, marketplaces were really starting to take off, but no one was operating in this particular vertical in a meaningful way. It took a year of moonlighting, but eventually we both quit our jobs with nothing but a half-baked website and sought out on what has now been a 9 year adventure of building Upper Hand (formerly bookacoach).


Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“If not now, when?” These were words I first heard from my late friend, Denver Hutt. I knew her for a short period of time before cancer took her, but she made a huge impact on me personally & professionally. Whether it be the new business endeavor that you are dreaming of starting, the mountain that you want to climb even though you’re afraid of heights, or introducing a completely new way of doing things at your business, to me this quote means constantly pushing boundaries and taking chances. We have to get uncomfortable often in this World in order to grow.


None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Probably a clichè answer, but I have to go with my Dad. He was paralyzed in a car accident from the chest down when I was in 4th grade. If you were to write a book on my life (yawn), this event would be at the center of everything. It forced me to grow up quickly, learn to rapidly adapt to incredibly challenging situations, and be able to handle large amounts of stress. But the most important thing this event taught me was to look for the positives no matter what: Nothing is ever as bad as it seems.

My Dad once told me, “A roadblock to you is like a speed bump to me. You don’t understand what it takes for me just to physically get out of bed every morning.”. I pop out of bed in less than a few seconds every morning with little effort. Life is good. No matter how bad things seem, I try to find the silver lining and kill the situation with optimism. He taught me this lesson in the most difficult way possible, and I am forever grateful for the many things I learned from this tragic event.


Is there a particular book, film, or podcast that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

The Shawshank Redemption is my favorite movie of all time. It resonated with me for so many reasons, but I think I just generally love pulling for the underdog. The look on the warden’s face as he pulls down that poster never gets old. Drawing parallels to starting and building a business, Andy Dufrain exemplifies what you need to have to even come close to succeeding: Patience, grit and unrelenting belief in yourself. In the face of great adversity, which we’ve found ourselves many times over the life of Upper Hand, finding a way out of impossible situations is absolutely critical. Kevin has certainly mastered this skill and I’ve learned a lot from him over the years.


You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

  1. Patience: I’ve always struggled to understand people who jump from one job to the next. Even when I was in high school, I worked at Puccini’s Pasta for years, continuing to work for them in the summer while at college. If you don’t have patience to get through 2 years somewhere, I think you are going to struggle to find success in life.
  2. Grit: From the time I started Upper Hand with Kevin, I’ve experienced 4 deaths, my wife’s life-changing health diagnosis, the birth of my daughter, the loss of my unborn child, my dad’s leg amputation, a global pandemic, and so much more. Throw in running a business, and you see why I feel that grit is an extremely important character trait in order to succeed. Without it, you will quit before ever getting the opportunity to succeed.
  3. Passion: If you want a lesson on having a passion for life, watch Coach Jim Valvano’s ESPY speech. His enthusiasm for life is second to none. “If you laugh, think and cry, that’s a heck of a day.” I think being able to show your team how your emotions can move to tears is what it’s all about. You’ve got to have passion in order to find success in anything.


How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Giving back has been a core pillar in my life since I was just a kid. When I was in 2nd grade, I called the 800 number to sponsor a starving child and used my chore money to make my monthly payments. Since then, I’ve either directly or indirectly raised hundreds of thousands for the IU Cancer Center and Riley Children’s Hospital and continue to donate privately to the IUCC.


Ok wonderful. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell us about the sports technologies that most excite you at the moment? Can you explain why you are passionate about it?

  1. Connected Fitness: I’ve been very excited to see how much success and as a result, capital, has been in the CF movement. A few things really excite me about the future of CF, and those are the potential applications of AR/VR and whether or not CF will move from consumer fitness to sports training. I see a future where people work out in the metaverse and where the boutique fitness experience is literally recreated with friends thousands of miles away, but right next to you via AR or VR. Very exciting things ahead in this area.
  2. Sports Robotics: I’m really excited about applications of robotics in sports. There is a cool company, Tennibot, that has created the Roomba for tennis balls. I think that practical applications of robotics in sports like this can make training easier, which ultimately will lead to better quality practice/play time. Eventually, robotic competitors will be in the market such as playing tennis or ping pong against a formidable opponent based on your particular skillset. I think we’re a ways out from this, but it’s going to happen.
  3. Esports: I think this is a really cool area that could go a multitude of different directions, but unsure on whether or not it’s going to be able to develop the centralized infrastructure to really take off. I think it needs a singular body that governs it similar to the NBA in order for it to really take the next step, but we’ll see.
  4. Sports Gambling & Content: Massive space and a massive opportunity for technology to finally bridge content to action. You’re already starting to see it, but content providers are going to continue to integrate the gambling process directly into the content consumption experience. Imagine reading your daily sports digest and being able to bet directly from the app at that specific moment.
  5. Sports NFTs: Tons of opportunity here for both experiences and sports memorabilia. It’s still very early, but I don’t think this is going away.


Related: Top Fitness Trends to Watch out for This Year


Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

I’ll cherry pick the metaverse, specifically if working out within it will require the use of VR headsets such as Oculus. If that’s the case, there could definitely be limitations around discomfort (nausea, having a headset on, etc). I think there will soon be technology that allows minimal hardware to enter the metaverse.


What are the 3 things that concern you about the sports industry today? Can you explain? What can be done to address or correct those concerns?

  1. Fan disengagement. It’s a problem, but let’s just say I don’t know why. It’s a big risk for sports.
  2. Player safety, specifically around heavy contact sports. Better safety equipment & regulations seem to be at least helping, especially in football. As long as this is a big problem, I feel that technology will continue to solve problems in this arena.
  3. Used to be lack of capital, and thus lag in innovation, but that is rapidly changing. It needs to continue to improve in order for our industry to continue to be relevant.


Related: How Myles Grote Built an Innovation Machine at Upper Hand



Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started”?

  1. Many times, you’ll give more than you’ll ever get.
  2. It’s going to take way longer than you think.
  3. Your business will probably need to pivot.
  4. People owe you nothing and will act accordingly.
  5. You’ll go to places you never dreamed of.


You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

People too often believe that the government or bigger corporations have to step up to make significant changes. I believe that the individual consumer has more power than they know. I really encourage people to OWN THEIR CONTRIBUTIONS. Don’t sit around and wait for the government to take your money and decide what to do with it. Don’t wait for your company to tell you what charity is going to be the focus. YOU MAKE THE FOCUS. Throw an extra couple of bucks on your tip at your local restaurant, carve out one day a month to give your time to something, start your own charity fund of 1% of your gross income, start your own charity that you’re passionate about. Or, as my friend Denver Hutt so eloquently put it: “Smile at Strangers. Be Kind. Judge Less. Hold the Door.” That’s all it takes to make change.


We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Without a doubt it would be Elon Musk. I believe that he will go down as the most influential person that this planet has ever seen. His work will forever change the trajectory of mankind. You can’t say that about many people over the past 1,000 years.


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