Our series of conversations with founders and companies going through HYPE’s Spin Accelerator in Taiwan. In this conversation we spotlight Avountes.
Avountes has developed a community-based platform called PickUps, in essence it’s a social network for basketball built around connectivity and gaming with an aim to bring people together to share the basketball experience. In this conversation we spoke to the company’s CEO Ryo Lee.
How was your experience at HYPE’s Taiwan Bootcamp?
Ryo Lee: “It was an honour to be selected to be a part of the HYPE family. Amir (Raveh) mentioned in a webinar, being a startup is a long journey and it’s something I felt even before I joined HYPE.
“I think the best thing I’ve gotten from the experience is engaging with startups in the same industry, as a sports focussed accelerator, and found partners and resources, not just for mentorship, but different startups that can help me brainstorm to fine tune my ideas.
“We’ve found different startups in Taiwan that we have other advantages and ideas that we can leverage and even incorporate their ideas into my business model.
“Then the connections with people across the sporting industry both in Taiwan and abroad that can help us as we go to market. As a CEO it’s given me a great boost.”
Describe the company and the problem you’re solving with basketball spaces and creating a social network with the sport?
RL: “In Taiwan we have a national league plus a national team but our performances aren’t that good but in terms of popularity and infrastructure we have so many basketball courts which are very accessible. People tend to gather to play basketball and they use messaging apps to organise games.
“People really like basketball in Taiwan, either in school, socially and there are many companies that have their own clubs so it’s a huge market. Of course people play for health and fitness reasons but there is technological value to be realised, so what if we could collect stats and data on amateur players, like myself, so we can collate points, field goals, rebounds and much more? I’ve never had any data like this recorded so this has inspired my idea.
“What if this experience where I can measure everyone’s scores and stats so we all know how we performed over time? Learning how well we’ve done and how we can improve.”
Then you want to make basketball courts smarter and connected, tell me about that?
RL: “Let’s differentiate between indoor and outdoor courts. We want to connect indoor courts because there are so many amateur clubs in Taiwan and then in China places like Shanghai and Shenzhen.
“The kinds of technology that we can implement is cameras or wearables, a system that can be connected together so club members can have performance data collected and a platform that connects players together.
“The ultimate goal is to go outdoors because the market is bigger.”
What is the technology that can connect players and stadiums?
RL: “In the basketball industry, say at the elite level like the NBA, they’re already using high-speed cameras to record and they’re using artificial intelligence to distinguish each frame, that’s one of the technologies that could be used right now.
“We can use technologies like cameras and sensors but have them downgraded so amateur players can afford to use them, the sensors are IoT devices and everything is sent to the cloud and from the cloud to your phone. They don’t need to have precision performance data but they want some data to keep a record.”
There’s a big social network element to this isn’t there?
RL: “Data and stats that are collected can be used for averages, player and team averages, and with those we can build leader boards! With leader boards players can start comparing and competing with each other locally or in different cities. Then imagine you can gather very good teams in different regions to compete against each other in tournaments. From there we can build gamification elements and more.”
What does the next 12 months look like for your company, how will you grow the network and develop the platform?
RL: “Our social platform is already live and our app can be purchased. In terms of hardware, we’re still on the journey because in the next 12 months we want to incorporate a camera and wearables to build the individual player data. We’re going to test to see if it is a possibility to have one-on-one or 3v3 gaming experience through our social network.
“Our current focus is to promote and market to potential users our app and platform, it operates like any social network like Facebook. We’re trying to build traction and an audience, then we’ll incorporate and work with amateur basketball teams to demonstrate that there are benefits for players who use our platform.
“Once the system is in place then we’ll link everything together so we can build tournament and gaming experiences for our users.”
Conversations produced in collaboration with HYPE Sports Innovation.