Russ: Hi I’m Russ Capper and this is BusinessMakers USA brought to you by Insperity, inspiring business performance. I’m checking in once again from Kansas City and my guest is Davyeon Ross, Co-founder of ShotTracker; Davyeon, welcome to the show.
Davyeon: Thank you, thank you; it’s really a pleasure to be here.
Russ: Tell us about ShotTracker.
Davyeon: ShotTracker is based out of Overland Park, Kansas. We’re a sensor-based technology that provides statistics and analytics to players, coaches, fans all in real time. We do so with a small sensor that’s placed on your shoe, a ShotTracker enabled ball and then we put sensors in the rafters, they create this three dimensional object that allows us to track players and balls in real time within 2 to 5 centimeters.
Russ: Wow. Do you have to have a sensor in the hoop too or you don’t have to?
Davyeon: No, our solution because we know where the ball is in space we can actually tell when the ball goes through the hoop, when the ball is going to the hoop so we can tell everything without having a sensor on the hoop.
Russ: Okay. So as I told you before we started I have a little basketball in my history – it’s hard to believe a guy my size – but I love the game, I still love the game today. I’m blown away with how fast and sophisticated it is now. And sophisticated, my God the statistics, the tracking capability; I mean you’ve really upgraded that haven’t you with ShotTracker?
Davyeon: Yeah, what we like to think is we’re going to revolutionize the sport of basketball. If you think about sabermetrics, money ball, everything that’s been happening in baseball – baseball is a little bit slower than basketball – but we believe that we can bring the technology to help mitigate some of the manual intervention that’s necessary to track statistics. And then if you’re actually doing that in an automated fashion there’s a lot of science, a lot of algorithms you can put on the data that you’re getting to allow you to make incredible decisions and get insights from not just your games but also your practice.
Russ: And mainly where it’s used today is in practice right?
Davyeon: Absolutely. We’ve done a few games. We did the NAIA national tournament last year which was a great accomplishment for us as a team but we’ve really started in practice. And the reason being is because the practice environment is very complicated. I don’t know when last you’ve been at a basketball practice but it’s 18 players, 18 balls, anywhere from 6 to 12 hoops. You’ve got people shooting, they’re grabbing each others’ balls, so for us it’s one of those things where we wanted to solve that complex environment because it’s a big differentiator for us and then allow us to work into the games.
Russ: So that means I’m a guy in there and I’m working out when I’m just messing around and taking shots from where I take them in a game and maybe elsewhere it’s all being tracked?
Davyeon: This is like the true definition of every shot counts.
Russ: So your customers are basketball teams, be it college, high school or professional?
Davyeon: Yes. Right now we’ve started off targeting the D1 schools, have been fortunate to strike up partnerships with a lot of the ball manufacturers and now we’re starting to see some of these schools put it into place and it’s been a great experience for us. But we’re really focusing on teams at this point – as you said colleges, pro – and then we’re affordable enough that we want to make it available to the high schools too.
Russ: Oh wow. So let’s say I’m a small college coach, I have a small budget, what would it cost to bring it in?
Davyeon: So our business model is a ShotTracker – stats is a service. So we’re using the old SaaS definition, putting a little spin on it, so stats is a service and we’re looking at thousands of dollars a year – single digit thousands.
Russ: Okay, because not only are you installing it and producing, can they watch the results and you watch them too? You send them reports?
Davyeon: Absolutely. This is your data so if coach wants to stop practice during a water break and see how we’re performing the first half of practice and what do we need to work on he can look at the data in real time. When we say real time we mean sub second response times; we don’t mean the day after, hours after. So for us real time is the true definition of real time. So if you wanted to watch it during practice, after practice; if you wanted to aggregate show all my practices for the last couple of weeks we give you the opportunity to do so within the data.
Russ: So obviously it’s very valuable to know how people are shooting.
Russ: If you’re following the ball you can kind of look at assists too, is that right?
Davyeon: That’s right. So we pride ourselves on being able to track to deliver a full box score. So that’s shot attempts, makes, misses which is the core. But then assists, turnovers, steals, offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds and so any of the core statistics you would find in a box score we can deliver.
Russ: Including blocked shots?
Davyeon: Blocked shots is a little bit of a tricky one.
Russ: I’m sure it is.
Davyeon: We’re working on that. Now we see that there’s a change in the vector of the ball but that one is a little bit tricky. We’ve gotten to the point where we’re able to do alley-oops at a very high percentage of success.
Russ: Not confusing them with being a shot right?
Davyeon: Exactly, that’s the tricky part. But our algorithms – we’re just fortunate. We’ve got an incredible group of smart individuals working on this and we’re seeing success with our alley-oops too.
Russ: How old is the company?
Davyeon: The company is a little over 4 years.
Russ: And you just recently sort of landed a few teams, is that right?
Davyeon: Yeah. So we started off selling I would say in the May/June timeframe, just got a sales team and starting to go out there. One of the biggest hurdles for us was getting our ball relationships, our partnerships, and we’ve been successful at that. We’ve closed some pretty cool teams, seeing our product from Utah Valley who has been one of the first to BYU to Oklahoma, Baylor, TCU, Miami and several others. So we’ve been very fortunate seeing people adopt.
Russ: Do the coaches like to keep it confidential so the players don’t know?
Davyeon: Of course. So that’s one of the things, right? Practice data is your data so we try to make sure that you keep that data confidential. We’re not sharing that data with anybody because you’re doing a lot of stuff. Practice is your time to test to see what works and what doesn’t work.
Russ: Very interesting. So you actually have a sales team now that goes out?
Davyeon: Yeah, we’ve got four individuals that are out there pounding the pavement, those guys are doing an incredible job for us and we’re excited about it.
Russ: Now this all started because you were a player right?
Davyeon: My basketball career started because I was a player. Our company started when my co-founder was in the back with his son shooting and called me up with hey, what did you do during the summers? I said I remember tracking all my shots. Fortunately I was a basketball player who studied Computer Science and Math and I said let me call you back, let me take a look at what’s out there and here we are today. We’ve evolved; we’ve grown, we’ve done a great job of really talking to customers, understanding their needs. And then our team has just been incredible about delivering on those needs. It takes a village and we’ve got a pretty good village behind us.
Russ: Well I was also noticing on your website you have some pretty significant endorsements there.
Davyeon: We’ve been very fortunate, very blessed. We’ve been able to raise some capital from Magic Johnson, David Stern, the owner of the Dodgers; we have some pretty good venture capitalists behind us, Greycroft to Ward Ventures. And then of course in Kansas City we’ve been very fortunate to get the support of the city and different angel groups whether it’s Mid America Angels or KC Rise Investment Fund. As I said, it takes a village and we have been very, very fortunate.
Russ: And you’re here because you played college basketball here right? That’s what got you to Kansas City right?
Davyeon: Absolutely, came all the way from Trinidad. This was where I was supposed to be. So I came at 17, left my home in Trinidad and went to Benedictine College – shout out to Benedictine – about an hour outside of Kansas City. Had a great career, got a great degree so ended up getting a job here with Sprint to move to Kansas City and I’ve been here ever since.
Russ: And you’ve got another startup in your background too, right?
Davyeon: Absolutely. So when I left Sprint I went to a startup with my managing director that got bought by a public company and then I decided that I wanted to so this after all I had learned and I had a company by the name of Digital Sports Ventures where we syndicated college sports video for Big 12, PAC 12, ACC, Mountain West, Conference USA, Big 10 and SEC. So it’s been a fun ride. I haven’t really worked because sports and tech, I’m pretty passionate about it, so I don’t really work.
Russ: Okay, so before I let you go I have to ask this; so in the future sometime am I going to be watching an NBA game and there’s going to be all kinds of stats streaming on the bottom that come from ShotTracker?
Davyeon: I‘m going to one-up you, you’re going to be watching an NBA game and you’re going to take your phone and put it up on the TV and you’re going to see stuff popping up. We are going to revolutionize the experience in-game, in the stadium and even at home. We are out to revolutionize and change the game of basketball not only for coaches and players but also for fans.
Russ: Great, Davyeon I really appreciate it. Cool, cool business man; exciting.
Davyeon: The pleasure was mine, thank you. Thank you, the pleasure was mine.
Russ: And that wraps up my discussion with Davyeon Ross, the Co-founder of ShotTracker and this is BusinessMakers USA.
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