The Wall Street Journal

The Australian maker of an athlete tracking technology used by sporting giants like the New York Knicks, Dallas Cowboys and AC Milan is shooting for private equity investment.

Catapult Sports is seeking to raise up to 10 million Australian dollars (US$10.2 million) from parties including private equity firms, according to an investor presentation seen by The Wall Street Journal.

AC Milan’s Ghanaian defender Prince Kevin Boateng (L) celebrates scoring with teammate French Philippe Mexes against FC Barcelona on February 20, 2013 at San Siro Stadium in Milan

Catapult wants capital to fund the growth and distribution of its patented technology, which was originally developed for the Australian Institute of Sport, the presentation showed.

The company’s wearable devices can calculate athletes’ workloads, training volumes and physical exertion. Its main product, for example, can measure an athlete’s acceleration along with their strength and movement. All of which is mapped using by GPS technology, while at the same timing monitoring their heart rate.

Another device uses licensed technology to track players without GPS, which is especially suitable for sports played indoors. A third electronic tag is placed inside balls and is tracked by devices worn by the player, and can gather data such as how hard they kick the ball.

The technology is designed to help team coaches measure fatigue and performances during training sessions and competitive matches. When a game is ongoing, coaches can decide on the basis of real-time data whether a player should be substituted. It can also highlight tactical strengths and weaknesses.

Catapult estimates that the professional sporting market–based on clubs which earn revenue of more than A$1.3 million a year–is worth A$59 billion. It’s skewed heavily to North America and Europe where the biggest sporting leagues are based. The company says more than 90% of the market comprises five sports: football, gridiron, baseball, basketball and ice hockey. It doesn’t include teams that are state funded, such as Olympic squads.

According to the presentation, Melbourne-based Catapult is profitable. A typical contract generates up to A$100,000 a year.

The company says it has more than 250 contracts with clubs including English Premier League regulars Aston Villa, Everton and West Ham United; U.S. National Football League teams like the St. Louis Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers; National Basketball Association teams including the San Antonio Spurs and the Boston Celtics and various national and state-level federations such as Great Britain’s Lawn Tennis Association.

New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony (7) goes up against Philadelphia 76ers’ Damien Wilkins during the first half of an NBA basketball game at Madison Square Garden in New York.

While Catapult has secured contracts with only 1.5% of clubs in North America and Europe, it cites deals in place with nearly a third of all clubs in Australia. A total of 17 of 18 Australian Football League teams, including the 2012 premiers Sydney Swans, use the technology. A handful of Australia’s National Rugby League teams, including the 2012 premier champions Melbourne Storm, are also on its books while Cricket Australia, Hockey Australia and Rowing Australia are clients, Catapult says.

Growth opportunities for Catapult include sports like cycling, alternative applications like defense and second-tier clubs such as college teams. The company already has contracts with U.S. homeland security technology provider, the Technical Support Working Group worth more than A$700,000, which includes the right to commercialize the technology.

Disruptive Capital, the venture capital arm of Sydney-based Aura Capital Group, is assisting Catapult with the raising.


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