Poor digital imputation and record keeping hurts many grassroots and amateur sports where volunteers who are running these clubs and organisations lack sufficient time and resources.
The biggest pain that is identified is cutting the amount of time spent communicating with members and recording results and data.
Zeroing in on swimming, Wylas Timing manages the collection, importation and distribution of swimming race times. The company develops FINA compliant hardware and software which wirelessly integrates across their devices for all swimming meets.
As a swimming club volunteer and software engineer, Wylas Timing’s CEO William Ferguson was able to develop products that solves the problem with manual recording of competitor details and times.
His company was one of the 11 companies that pitched at the HYPE Spin Lab on the Gold Coast in April.
Bullpen: What happened post-pitch? Any feedback or insight about your products that you might not have considered?
William Ferguson: “Nothing especially new. We’ve spoken quite extensively to most of the judging panel in the accelerator program.
“Uli Becker’s (ex-Reebok CEO) comment at the end of my pitch about focusing on the Australian market. I’ve come to think that’s a very strong approach that we should double down on.”
BP: In your HYPE pitch, you estimated the Australian market to be worth $6 million. How will you attack the Australian market?
WF: “Our plan (for the Australian market) is to go in via the regional sporting bodies. We’ve got a good rapport with Swimming Queensland. We’ll follow that up with other state based swimming associations. That’s the right approach for us and then we need to follow through on the private school circuit.
“Our market is divided between swimming clubs and schools depending on who runs the swimming meets.”
BP: Within those segments, is there a unifying way of attacking the local market.
WF: “There is but there isn’t, the clubs are associated with Swimming Australia and Swimming Queensland – and other state based bodies – that covers off a good chunk of the market, about 25 to 30 per cent. But they tend to be the clubs that are at the higher end of the competitive scale, the clubs which are pushing out swimmers who are moving up into the state and national competition level. But it doesn’t particularly give good access to the local clubs run by P&C’s and state schools across Australia.
“The biggest issue that little clubs have, the members and volunteers tend to rotate on a yearly basis, they lack organisation or consistent communication.”
BP: A barrier for easy admin of grassroots sport is there is no management platform decided on or implemented. Has that been a pain point for a lot of grassroots clubs you have dealt with?
WF: “Yes it is. These clubs are run by volunteers who are under time pressures and stresses of their own and you want to make running the club as simple as possible so the volunteers have time to enjoy the club. If there is no enjoyment, they drop out, and their kids miss out on the club swimming experience.”
BP: In your pitch you estimated the global market to be at $750 million, what are some of the differences in trying to attack overseas markets? What problems have you encountered?
WF: “It’s quite interesting how different regions roster their seasons. For instance, the big difference between the Australian market and the US market is that unless you’re at one of the top level clubs where you’re training 12 months in which it’s the same between the US and Australia. With the mid-range clubs in Australia, you’re swimming for about six to seven months, in the US those clubs swim during the summer months so about a three to four month window. That’s one kind of difference around the world and we’ve dealt with that by offering our timing licences so clubs can choose exactly how long of a period they want to cover.”
BP: What kind of penetration, feedback or testing of the product in overseas markets?
WF: “We’ve got a number of overseas clients in six different countries. A couple of clubs in the US who are using it and are really thrilled. I always thought we’d land in the west coast of the US first but clubs in the east coast reached out to us. While we’ve done a little bit of marketing over there we haven’t gone and charged into that market hard they’ve come and found us.
“We’ve got presence overseas but I think other than a push into the US early next year, in time for next year’s swimming season, we’re going to focus on the Australian market and build up some strong revenue here and deal with a couple things such as taking our starting pistol through to full production.”
BP: A swimmer uses the timing app they are of course building up a bank of their own data. There is debate over who owns it, who should own and distribute the data, would your company own the data or would the individual user own the data?
WF: “Our current position is that the club’s own that data, it’s not ours and we’re facilitating the management of that by them.
“It all stays on their local devices, we’re not touching any of it. As we build the product out sideways to offer them more of an integrated club solution, at that point we’ll be offering them the capability above and beyond what they’ve got and we’ll renegotiate that contract.
“When we make the move and offer up a good reason for clubs and athletes to hand over the ownership of that data to us, we’ll make that case. For me, it’s about measuring the whole statistical weighting of times. We can get some really good insights into how the cohort as a whole is moving and that’s of interest to groups like Swimming Australia being able to see the overall improvement of times amongst age groups.”