Prad Navaratnam, LeverEdge Sports

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LeverEdge Sports is a sports analytics start-up that builds tools to help professional sporting teams leverage performance data to give them an edge against their competition. They build sport specific algorithms that help teams analyse mountains of data to help with player KPI performance management, opposition scouting and help to identify recruitment targets. They aim to identify a complete picture when it comes to player evaluation by looking at the impact a player has had across every facet of the game by calculating a total score followed by highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of that player so that he/she can improve.

Having recently signed agreements with NRL clubs, LeverEdge Sports is currently focusing on helping rugby league teams and coaches make better use of their data by customising analysis tools to suit each respective team.

With plans to go global and enter other sporting fields in the future, LeverEdge Sports is focused on expanding across multiple markets and growing its market share.

Can you tell us a little bit about your idea and how you decided to take a plunge and make your idea happen?

Both co-founders are avid sports fans and follow a number of teams from a variety of sports. It was that passion that led us to question why certain teams would follow the “noise” of the media when it came to player recruitment or team selections. So we got to work to try and figure out if we could pick a better team or find a better player to be recruited based on their performance only. It was by doing that and the results that we got, that we built a method that could be used by teams and coaches to make more informed decisions when it came to their players.

Once we knew how we would build our analysis, we then went about validating the idea by speaking to people within the sports industry from different sports. Nearly everyone we spoke to told us the same thing – which was the information we had analysed was invaluable. We felt teams, coaches and players would get better value from knowing how much of a total impact the player is having across the board first, and then highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of that player to help that player improve.

We decided to take the plunge when we knew our idea was validated and that there was a demand in the market for a product like ours. It was definitely not a hasty decision that was made overnight. We initially built the method out and then sat on the idea whilst we tested and validated it for about 6 months before deciding to dive in full time.

Can you explain how your business model works? 

We work on an enterprise license business model where we charge a software license fee to professional sporting teams to access our online platforms.

What are you working on right now and what are you excited about in the next year?

We are currently working on expanding our tech capability. It is scary to think what is possible when you combine technology with data. That is also what we are most excited about as well.

What we have built so far in terms of the analysis is only scratching the surface. We are excited about what we have got in store, which will be some amazing things including live in-game analysis. Nowadays, coaches are able to access data live, while it is happening. We are keen to bring our component to this and introduce an analysis and predictive system that will give coaches and players an insight into what is happening on the field as well as what is about to happen so that they are able to make the right decision at the right time.

How do you make your ideas a reality?

By doing it and pursuing it till either we drop dead or the idea runs out of steam. Honestly, it was as simple as, we had this idea of sports analysis and we wanted to just give it a shot to see where we end up.

We both always had the opinion that we would never know unless we tried. So we just went to work and did the first step of trying to find a way to better evaluate the data. Once we checked that box, we then started working on our next goal, and the process just kept rolling. Before we knew it, we had validated the product, generated genuine interest and built a minimum viable product.

 Have mentors played a role in your business life?

We don’t have any direct mentors that we speak to on a regular basis. We more look to learn off other entrepreneurs and businesses by following what happens in the market place and ensuring we continue to learn from others success and mistakes.

What does your typical day look like for you? 

Honestly, it would be hard for us to think about what a typical day would look like simply because each day is different. And when you run your own business that is to be expected. Some days we would be out meeting with coaches and teams talking to them about the system. Other days we could both be in a meeting with our lawyers or our accountants followed by meeting with our tech guys and doing a lot more hands-on testing of the systems (both from a tech perspective and a product perspective). Each day within a start-up world has its own challenges and its own goals which is great as it keeps us on our feet and makes sure we are constantly evolving to make sure we are a step ahead of the game.

Have you faced any challenges when starting this business in Australia?

Starting a business within the sports tech space in Australia has been a challenge. It is very much a new industry here in Australia, but a fairly large one in the US and UK which is quite surprising considering how much of a proud sporting nation we are. However, due to the small sports-tech industry, it has been a big learning curve for us. Coming into the sports industry with no professional sporting experience, we had to learn quickly how these professional sports teams operate and be able to adapt to their environment.

Other than that, the Australian fund raising space within startups is still a growing sector. We may never get to the size of the US or even European investment sizes, but we still believe having that diversity is important. Being able to reach out to multiple investors who bring experience from a variety of industries is crucial. Hopefully with time that will change.

What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?

To be honest we have been so busy with our business that we haven’t even had a chance yet to think of other ideas. However, we do strongly believe in renewable energy and believe there is a big opportunity within the renewable sector. Times are changing and we believe the younger generations are starting the change of moving towards renewable energy. It’s only a matter of time before we become dependant on solar or wind. There is potentially an opportunity within that space!

Are there any companies in Australia that you think are doing really cool stuff in your industry at the moment?

Catapult Sports and Sports Performance Tracking (SPT), are 2 really cool companies within sports-tech in Australia at the moment. Both of them have monumental success, especially Catapult Sports. Both of them are in the sports tech wearables space and have truly dominated on a global scale.

What about internationally?

Internationally, I would still say Catapult and SPT, however, I would also throw in STATS. STATS is a US-based data analytics organisation that does sports data for nearly every sports (including the NRL). The things they do are definitely very cool and they are definitely an organisation we admire a lot and would like to follow in the footsteps of.

What role do you think business can play in affecting social change?

Being in the industry that we are in and the clients that we work with (professional sporting teams), having social impact is very difficult. However, we are both personally attached to making a lasting social impact within our own lives and we are certain we would want to make sure we could try and play some part in the future via our business in having social change.

Is there a particular charity or social enterprise you support?

Not at the moment, but we are keeping an eye on a couple that we would like to support in the future. One being Refugee Talent, which specialises in helping refugees find a job in Australia. We would definitely look to support them when we can.

Are there 3 websites you would recommend to our readers?

www.ideashoist.com.au (ofcourse!)

www.startupdaily.net

http://www.smartcompany.com.au/startupsmart/

What 3 Australians do you think we should follow on Twitter?

Mike Cannon-Brooks

Mark Bouris

Paul Bassat

Do you have any opportunities for people to get involved with your idea?

We could always do with help! Interns who have an interest in sport, numbers or preferably both and we are also looking to raise funding in the next 6-12months.

We’re aiming to build a community of Australian idea makers helping each other. If you could have one question answered about startups, what would it be?

“How did you build out your MVP and how did you fund that?” – We think that question could potentially help many aspiring entrepreneurs in the future and point them in the right direction by learning off many who have done it before them. Those that have succeeded and those that have failed.

Do you have a favourite bar, café or restaurant?

It would be too hard to name one, we definitely have a few!

 

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