The rise of VX Sport, your picks of 2015, Chelsea Win­ter’s me­dia diet, SMI’S ad spend fig­ures, stun­ning stats, jar­gony jar­gon and win­ning com­ments.

Num­bers are tak­ing over the world of pro­fes­sional sport, as data on the speed, ac­cel­er­a­tion and bio­met­rics of ath­letes be­comes in­creas­ingly im­por­tant to coaches and man­agers. And when they need this type of info, they turn to Richard Snow and the tech beh

New Zealand Marketing - - Contents -

What has your jour­ney been like so far?

For us, it’s been a nine-year jour­ney through R&D and then six and half years with the prod­uct on the mar­ket. We grow ev­ery year, but we’re al­ways in a po­si­tion where we never have enough money. At the mo­ment I’d like to do a re­ally big PR piece in the US mar­ket, but I just can’t af­ford it. We’re lit­er­ally go­ing out with plans to do a crowd­fund­ing round in Jan­uary. We’re just putting that in place. We’ve never gone out for ex­ter­nal fund­ing, which is un­usual for a start-up com­pany.

Why did you de­velop this tech­nol­ogy?

There are nu­mer­ous ways in sports to track ath­lete mo­tion and a lot of the ear­lier sys­tems in­volved video tech­nol­ogy, which was pretty crude. The dif­fer­ence be­tween what we do and cam­era track­ing does is that we look af­ter the ath­lete. It’s all about the track­ing and op­ti­mi­sa­tion of the ath­lete. In other words, you’re tak­ing in­for­ma­tion on speed, heart rate, ac­cel­er­a­tion and dis­tances—there are lit­er­ally some­where be­tween 200 and 300 met­rics that we cal­cu­late—and you use that es­sen­tially to op­ti­mise per­for­mance and train­ing. You can look for pat­terns and changes in pat­terns in per­for­mance that would in­di­cate that they’re in­jured or at risk of in­jury.

Is there re­ally a need for this level of data?

There’s a sig­nif­i­cant amount of pub­lished sport re­search and un­for­tu­nately there’s prob­a­bly more re­search out there than peo­ple use in an ef­fec­tive way. Even from pre-re­lease of the prod­uct, we had the abil­ity to look at hip forces and im­bal­ances. It was way too ad­vanced for what the user mar­ket was back then. I think we’re fi­nally en­ter­ing a phase of the mar­ket when there’s a lot more aware­ness of health and fit­ness. It’s partly due to sports watches and fit­ness track­ers. With­out dis­miss­ing the Fit Bits and the sports track­ers on your phone, they’re not re­ally that ac­cu­rate and they’re not re­ally pro­fes­sional or suit­able for se­ri­ous level sports.

Who is the tar­get mar­ket?

We launched our very first ath­lete-track­ing prod­uct in early to mid-2009, with the em­pha­sis that this com­pany and prod­uct would be for an in­ter­na­tional mar­ket. There was never any in­ten­tion that it would be any­thing other than an in­ter­na­tional prod­uct and ex­port com­pany.

Why this fo­cus on the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket?

The in­vest­ment re­quired for tech­nol­ogy is sig­nif­i­cant. The re­al­ity is that the New Zealand mar­ket is too small, and the in­vest­ment re­quired to make the whole thing work is very high. You couldn’t find a prod­uct like this hav­ing a big enough mar­ket in New Zealand. It just wouldn’t work. The in­vest­ment when you do a hard­ware elec­tron­ics prod­uct plus soft­ware re­quires mil­lions of dol­lars just to get you to the start­ing line … When I first looked into the mar­ket size, I thought there was a sig­nif­i­cant mar­ket out there, but it was premised on in­ter­na­tional sales in the US, UK and Europe.

Do you think the size of the Kiwi mar­ket dis­suades in­no­va­tors?

For com­pa­nies that pro­duce low vol­ume but big-ticket items, there’s a nat­u­ral ad­van­tage in a mar­ket like the US where if some­thing takes hold it’s rapidly scal­able. And if you look in New Zealand at most of the big suc­cesses, like Xero, they are rapidly scal­able, but they rely on that in­ter­na­tional mar­ket.

So should Kiwi in­no­va­tors head off­shore?

If you’re try­ing to do a prod­uct in New Zealand that’s hard­ware, it would have to be do­mes­tic to make it work. Peo­ple talk about go­ing to China, but un­less you’re mak­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of prod­ucts a year for a tech­nol­ogy prod­uct, then you’d need to do it in New Zealand, but you can’t rely on the lo­cal mar­ket to sup­port you.

What are some of the sports teams you’ve worked with?

In 2011, we got an en­gage­ment with Quik­sil­ver to mon­i­tor pro surf­ing in Aus­tralia on one of their in­ter­na­tional rounds, and it was great. It was the first time ever that any­one had done speed and dis­tance from a surfer to a live TV and web broad­cast … We also met Red Bull in those early years and they did three videos on moun­tain bik­ing and skateboarding us­ing our data. In 2009, we es­tab­lished a re­la­tion­ship with Chan­nel 9 in Aus­tralia and we’ve done a num­ber of cricket tests, where they tracked the bowlers and bats­men. We also did a sea­son of 20-20 cricket with Sky and few years ago. A few years back we also did a sum­mer sea­son of beach iron­man and ironwoman com­pe­ti­tions with Tel­stra Clear in Aus­tralia … The fact is that all of the New Zealand na­tional rugby teams use our prod­ucts.

Is the util­ity lim­ited to sport?

No. We’ve got mil­i­tary users in New Zealand. The New Zealand Army has been us­ing it over the last 12 months for iden­ti­fy­ing and analysing early in­jury pat­terns with new re­cruits. And at the mo­ment there are also some moves into education. We have a tech­nol­ogy agree­ment with the Univer­sity of South Aus­tralia for use of the prod­uct in schools. And we also have Kel­ston Boys’ High School in Auck­land in­te­grat­ing our prod­uct into the sport and teach­ing cur­ricu­lum.

What’s the ap­pli­ca­tion for education?

It’s a bit of a Tro­jan Horse strat­egy, be­cause peo­ple like sport much more than they like tech­nol­ogy. But if you can get them play­ing with or us­ing tech for sport, you’re in fact ex­pos­ing them to the use of hard­ware, soft­ware and data anal­y­sis. The kids love it.

How im­por­tant is mar­ket­ing to you?

Peo­ple have prob­a­bly quite rightly com­mented that our com­pany looks very prod­uct fo­cused and not very mar­ket­ing fo­cused. And I ac­cept that crit­i­cism, but know­ing your mar­ket and how it will pick up is quite a tricky thing with new tech­nol­ogy. The road of tech­nol­ogy is lit­tered with prod­ucts that are not prop­erly re­searched, so we had to em­pha­sise get­ting the prod­uct right and also work out who would buy and use it. That’s a many-year process.

So how do you make sales?

With a com­plex prod­uct, you have to put your own peo­ple onto it. Where there’s a high sale value and a high level of tech­ni­cal com­plex­ity, you have to sell it your­self. So we have our own peo­ple [in var­i­ous lo­ca­tions across the world] … The tar­get mar­ket we’ve got is quite com­plex. It’s not like we’re try­ing to sell Coca-cola or con­cert tick­ets to a mas­sive au­di­ence.

Where to next for VX Sport?

Given that the prod­uct is now in its fourth gen­er­a­tion, we don’t need to spend as much on the prod­uct any­more. We will con­tinue to spend on R&D and prod­uct re­fine­ment, but we’ve got a well­proven prod­uct. We know that it’s prob­a­bly bet­ter than the best al­ter­na­tive on the mar­ket. From this point on, our story is all about mar­ket­ing. The whole story now moves from a prod­uct to mar­ket­ing story.

THE TAR­GET MAR­KET WE’VE GOT IS QUITE COM­PLEX. IT’S NOT LIKE WE’RE TRY­ING TO SELL COCA-COLA OR CON­CERT TICK­ETS TO A MAS­SIVE AU­DI­ENCE.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.