Date Company Founded: 2015
Current Number of Employees: 5
What They Do: Help Professional Sports Teams Win Games
Winning in competitive sports takes more than raw skill and athletic prowess. Strategies which harness an athlete’s strengths, while exploiting the weaknesses of opponents, is truly how championships are won. In the end, it simply comes down to which side has access to more information. Ottawa startup GameStrat believes its software will be the edge that allows teams to leave competitors in the dust. Founder and football player, Tunch Akkaya, says the company is well on its way, having sold the software to the University of Toronto, York University, Ottawa Gee-Gees, Western University and McMaster University. We spoke with the CEO about where the idea came from and how Invest Ottawa helped with the game plan.
WHEN DID YOU OFFICIALLY LAUNCH OR GET PRODUCT ‘ON THE SHELF’?
It started as a software engineering project at university but we didn’t officially start the company until May of 2015. That summer we were accepted to be a part of Startup Garage which provided us with some initial funding of $20,000. We got a beta version up and running that fall, where my team used it during the football season.
WHAT WAS THE LIGHT BULB MOMENT THAT SPARKED THE IDEA?
In the summer of 2014, I was going into my 4th year of playing football and I was training pretty much 24/7. That meant I was hanging around the facility quite a bit. I always wanted to do something football related to my education but I didn’t know what exactly. One day, I was in our video coordinator’s office and they said professional football teams are now using instant video replay to drive real-time coaching decisions.
Coincidentally, our CIS league had just allowed for this technology to be used in the upcoming 2014 season. It started off as just a cool project which helped my own team by gaining a competitive advantage. Once the season had ended, I started talking to numerous football coaches from around the country and I realized there was a need for something like this.
WHAT IS YOUR PRODUCT? WHAT DOES IT DO?
Our main application, GS Replay, allows coaches to have real-time instant replay and analytics to help them make better coaching decisions. We’re solving the core problem of being able to transfer and receive large amounts of data in stadium dense environments where traditional wi-fi or Internet is not possible.
WHY DO YOU SEE A NEED FOR THIS PRODUCT IN THE MARKET?
I’ve seen first hand how much planning and strategy goes into the game of football. Every week, coaches and players spend countless hours in the film room studying themselves and their opponents. We allow this game planning and strategy to continue throughout the game by analyzing videos, photos, and data associated with each play. The NFL started using this technology in 2013, the Canadian Interuniversity Sports League allowed it in 2014, the CFL allowed it just this very season.
We will be going to a number of American football clinics and conventions through the months of January to July, getting a better foothold in the high school market and also in the NCAA (College) football market. We’ve also begun branching out to other sports. The Univeristy of Ottawa basketball team is using our software and we are exploring volleyball and hockey as well.
WHAT SUPPORT HAVE YOU GOTTEN FROM INVEST OTTAWA, AND HOW HAS IT HELPED YOU?
Startup Garage was a joint program between the University of Ottawa and Invest Ottawa, providing funding and working space during the 2015 summer months. During that time I made many connections and tapped into many resources. For example, the people at Invest Ottawa pointed me towards the Get There program organized by CDMN. GamStrat was chosen for the trip to San Francisco/Silicon Valley and I made a number of key connections while I was down there. Invest Ottawa has helped open many doors for us.
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