Our series of conversations with founders and companies going through HYPE’s Spin Accelerator in Taiwan. In this conversation we spotlight New Zealand startup Komodo Monitr. We spoke to Jack Wood, one of their co-founders.
Describe your experience at the recent HYPE Bootcamp in Taiwan?
Jack Wood: “The Bootcamp couldn’t have come at a better time really. In terms of New Zealand, it’s a really great place to start, a great place to test a startup but I think we recognise that the market here isn’t big enough and it’s certainly not big enough for what we want. Taiwan, and the accelerator over there, has really provided us an opportunity to expand globally.
“Then the scale in terms of connections has really blown us away. Since the Bootcamp we’ve been speaking to VP’s of NFL franchises, the ex-VP of the NBA, I had a call with one of the Product Lead’s at ASICS, then there’s Bernd (Wahler) the ex-CMO of adidas. It’s an unbelievable scale of connections.”
As an emerging startup, you begun life at university and it’s a big shift being able to speak to such people to get advice from.
JW: “Oh yeah. Don’t get me wrong, in New Zealand we’ve got some great support networks here, we’ve been very fortunate particularly in Christchurch.
“From a sportstech point-of-view specifically, it’s been a breath of fresh air because we’ve never had that kind of exposure. New Zealand is a bit behind on the sports technology side of things so it’s been great to step into the realms of where we want to be.”
Describe Komodo Monitr and what the platform aims to solve?
JW: “The way we market ourselves we’re the intelligent, easy to use athlete platform for strength and conditioning coaches, essentially working in amateur sport. Some of the problems we see with some of our customers is they collect large volumes of data on a lot of athletes, sometimes we’ll get that ratio of one strength and conditioning coach to hundreds of athletes and that’s very difficult to manage with the tools they’re using at the moment. Some of the things they use is various sources to collect wellness data, sleep quality and stress levels then they’ll collect data from GPS devices combine all of those into a spreadsheet or several of them, nothing is centralised and nothing communicates with each other.
“Komodo Monitr is that central place where they can view all of their athletes in one place, and they can view the overall condition of their athletes. Our big difference is ease of use, it’s designed so anyone can pick it up and get value out of it straight away. Then our next big difference is automation, we automate the data collection process which makes it easier for coaches to gather large volumes of quality data for each athlete and we use intelligent insights for the individual so the coach can tailor their training programs for that particular athlete so they can get the most benefit. We can show when an athlete is over-loaded and doing too much training or highlight an athlete that’s dehydrated or not getting adequate sleep. Things like that can effect on-field performance.”
What types hardware or software devices can be imputed into your platform?
JW: “On the hardware side of things we can work with any wearable device from your high-end sports specific ones like Catapult or Statsports units all the way down to your Fitbits or Apple Watches, we can support data exported to us in any format.”
Why add in your own insights over the top of the data?
JW: “We didn’t just want to provide a platform that stored data. It’s not something our customers need, it doesn’t solve their problems. When you’re a strength and conditioning coach and you’re maybe part-time at a school or local sporting organisation you’re not going to have the time to sit down and interpret the data to take out the insights you need to make those training adjustments. For us it’s about taking that data and being able to do so much more with it so the customer gets a lot more value.”
As you’re targeting strength and conditioning coaches, you’re dealing with a of people at the sub-elite, semi-professional and amateur levels, how do you make it simplistic for both athlete and coach at those levels where they may not need so much comprehensive data?
JW: “The stuff we see at the moment that people collect particularly around wellness is pretty easy just because it’s a simple subjective score about how the athlete is feeling. In everything we do we have descriptions within the platform itself so people can instantly understand what something means. We offer different levels as well, we see coaches that just want that instant feedback on what’s going on with an athlete, their overall condition and we can give them that. We also see other coaches who want to delve deeper and so we offer that, a coach can view an athlete profile and dive into the long-term trends of their wellness or training load data.”
What’s the advantage of having a platform that targets the semi-professional down to the amateur athlete for strength and conditioning coaches?
JW: “As part of our founding story, our CEO and fellow co-founder (Chris Bacon), he started in the English Premier League, that’s elite right there! When we came together here in Christchurch we began looking at making a platform that’s intelligent at the elite level but we quickly discovered a gap in the market at the amateur level. The biggest advantage for us is that it’s a much bigger market and I think it’s growing. Talking about HYPE in Taiwan, we’re looking at exploring South-East Asia, a lot of time and money is being invested into amateur sport over there because they want to develop high-level athletes. The overall picture is to really drive that amateur sport market to develop the next generation of athletes.”
What does the next 12 months look like for the company?
JW: “We’re going through a seed round in New Zealand and that capital will allow us to venture into Australia. Australia has been on our roadmap for a long-time. Through connections built in Taiwan prior to and during HYPE’s accelerator, we’re now strongly looking at that market.
“We want to keep testing in new markets, we’re already in a few regions, we have customers in Spain right now but it’s about expansion, expanding to Australia and South-East Asia and going from there.
“Finally, we want to evolve the product development side, we think we can do a whole lot more. We have high volumes of quality data and now we want to make it more intelligent, always thinking about how we could provide our customers with even more insight to make their lives easier.”
As you will be ‘demo-ing’ at the Demo Day in January, what do you hope to learn from the SPIN Lab leading up to it that can help you propel into 2020?
JW: “We’d like to really strengthen our relationships in Taiwan so we can strongly explore that market in 2020. I mentioned the investment round, New Zealand has its investment ecosystem and potentially not as mature as some of the global scenes so we would be very excited to go for an international investment round in Taiwan.
“It gives us that ability to seek investment globally, the connections and networks to start exploring Taiwan and beyond. On top of that just getting really good advice, you’re never perfect and we can always learn more. We’re going to get a lot out of this sports technology focussed experience because we’re surrounded by people with similar experiences which will give us strength.”
Conversations produced in collaboration with HYPE Sports Innovation.