While the relationship between the sports world and the business world has long been a strong one, in recent years we’ve seen a growing number of athletes that are entering the realms of tech entrepreneurship.
Andrew Trimble is one of this new breed of sportstech entrepreneurs.
A former Ulster and Irish international, he didn’t decide to follow the more ‘traditional route’ upon his retirement in 2018. Instead, Andrew decided to roll the dice and founded Kairos, a company which focuses on filling a gap he felt was present throughout his career as an elite athlete.
We caught up with Andrew to talk about his switch from on-the-field, to off-the-field performance.
OZ: It would be strange to do this interview and not touch on your career as a rugby player. How have you found it trading in the boots for a laptop since you finished your career with Ireland and Ulster? Is it an exciting transition?
Andrew: Not everyone gets to retire on their own terms. I was lucky enough to do so, and thankfully have fewer hang-ups than other retired athletes and less ‘unfinished business’. As a result, I was very excited about getting out of my comfort zone and trying something different. Also, despite technology being a new field for me, I knew I could contribute something meaningful, as I’m passionate about the area of performance.
OZ: Have you always been a tech nerd, or is this something which has come about more recently?
Andrew: I’ve always been a nerd – but never a tech nerd!!
OZ: As an industry, sports tech has been growing exponentially in recent years, particularly the performance side. Where did the inspiration for Kairos come from, and how has your career as an athlete influenced this?
Andrew: The concept underpinning our technology (removing distractions and aiding the performance of athletes) mirrors the approach I used to take as a rugby player. I wanted a more scientific approach. I wanted to know I would perform and rely less on talent and good fortune.
OZ: Kairos is still in its infancy, yet you’re already working with the likes of the IRFU, the IFA and Boston University. What makes your product essential to maximise efficiency and performance with the modern athlete?
Andrew: The main goal of our product is to help sports clubs streamline planning, and optimize the performance of their athletes. It includes three main features – scheduling, performance and analytics.
Kairos Scheduling centralises all personal and team plans with a simple application to coordinate weekly schedules. Kairos Performance provides coaches and practitioners with the tools to upload detailed session plans prior to the event. Kairos Analytics integrates and presents to players a summary of their performance data, in a simple yet engaging dashboard, to view in real-time after every session.
OZ: Can you give us some insight into your expansion strategy? Do you see the US as your short-term market, or is the plan to focus on Europe first and foremost?
Andrew: Every opportunity has the potential of being a distraction. Opportunities in the States need to be significant enough to justify the potential distraction from what we are doing here in the UK and Ireland. For this reason, initially, we are focused on sizable local markets with a small number of strategic partnerships in key areas of the US.
OZ: What’s your opinion on Belfast, and Ireland, as a base from which to scale a tech startup?
Andrew: We have had enormous support from Invest NI which has been really helpful. Also, SEIS in the UK has made the process of securing investment more straight-forward.
OZ: One-Zero 2019 will bring some of the most innovative minds in sport to Dublin for a day of unrivalled learning and networking. What excites you most for the event?
Andrew: One-Zero will be a great event for us to learn from industry experts, about innovation and development in the sports tech industry. It will be really helpful for our future development as a company, and we will get some insights on customer needs and existing market solutions. It’s also an opportunity for Kairos to network and engage with potential strategic partners.
Andrew will be moderating a panel at One-Zero 2019, discussing the future of sports tech investment, and where the VC money will flow in 2020. Tickets are now on sale to join Andrew and over 500 other like-minded professionals on 17 September.