Angelina Lawton has entrepreneurship in her blood. Inspired by her time working for the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning as senior vice president of corporate communications, Lawton started her own company Sportsdigita. The now multimillion dollar company that provides a cloud-based presentation platform for the sports industry has won her recognition from Forbes and Inc. magazines and made her one of the most powerful women in the sports industry.
“I’m a woman-based business in sports and technology. Those are two of the hardest fields to break into. I came from the financial industry which is probably the third hardest,” Lawton says.
She credits her success and tenacity to father, businessman Noel Rahn.
“I grew up in Edina. I’ve been in Edina my entire life. My family is from here. My brothers all live here,” (a sister lives in Dallas) Lawton says. “My company definitely should be based in New York City but I stay because of the community here.”
After graduating from Edina High School, Lawton went to Arizona State University to study journalism and moved back to Edina upon graduation to work for her father’s firm, Investment Advisers. In 1992, after marrying Brian Lawton, former hockey player, NHL general manager and now an NHL Network analyst, the couple had three children. In 2008, she became the senior vice president of corporate communications for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“That’s how I got my start in sports, working for an NHL team and really expanding my knowledge of the tech world and presentations,” she says.
PowerPoint on Steroids
“I ran all the corporate communications and marketing. When I was looking for ways to help them do these big presentations, there was nothing but PowerPoint,” she says. “When you’re going in and pitching these huge deals ... you want it to be more animated. You want it to come to life more. You want it to have a huge wow factor. And there was nothing like that out there.”
So, in 2011 she founded Sportsdigita. “Our crown jewel is the Digideck. That is basically PowerPoint on steroids,” Lawton says.
Sportsdigita is based in Edina and employs 50 people. They have more than 400 clients from professional and collegiate sports teams including the Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Capitals, along with hometown favorites Minnesota Wild, Timberwolves and the Twins. The company’s biggest client is the New York Yankees.
She says, “We’ve had a lot of success on the sports side that now we’re moving into non-sports. So now we work with people like Cargill, Visa, Ticketmaster and Jostens.”
Lawton’s endeavors have gotten noticed. Forbes Magazine named Lawton one of the Most Powerful Women in U.S. Sports in 2018.
“That was a game changer for my career and has opened up a lot of doors for me to be able to mentor more,” she says. “That gives me a lot of joy.”
Her latest project is a joint one with her teenage daughter, Gabby. They are starting an afterschool club at Edina High School to teach young women the ins and outs of business.
Lawton says she wants to inspire her children, especially her daughter and other women in business, the same way her dad inspired her.