Management of a fast-growing Melbourne sports technology company, Catapult Sports, is this week touring the United States for talks with a dozen prominent venture capital firms.
Chairman Adir Shiffman says about 75 per cent of the company’s revenue, which is understood to be more than $10 million annually, is derived from outside Australia, the US and Europe being its biggest markets.
The company specialises in GPS-tracking equipment, attached to sports players via a vest worn under their playing jumper or uniform.
“We are seeing them [VCs] because they asked to see us,” Shiffman says. “That’s a totally inverse dynamic to what usually happens. We’ve got a three-year growth plan to ramp up the business and we’re not finished with organic growth.
“That could necessitate another capital raising and there’s more probability of that happening in the US. That sort of raising is not necessarily Australia’s strength.”
Earlier this year Shiffman, a Melbourne technology entrepreneur, raised between $3.5 million and $4 million for Catapult through his investment firm Disruptive Capital.
Shiffman contributed some of his own funds, as did several wealthy Melbourne individuals.
The raising gives Catapult an enterprise value of about $17 million.
GPS SPORTS DATA IN DEMAND
GPS data is increasingly important to sports scientists and coaches, who monitor it to measure player movement and fatigue during matches and training.
After signing up 17 out of 18 AFL clubs, Catapult has made a big move into the US market in the past two years.
It provides equipment and data services to seven National Football League clubs, five National Basketball Association clients and 25 large college football and sports programs.
It has more than 300 clients around the world, including several English Premier League football clubs and European clubs such as AC Milan, national rowing associations and cricket teams.
The client list is up from about 250 a year ago.
Shiffman says up to 90 per cent of the company’s revenue will eventually be derived from overseas.
There is interest from venture capitalists in Catapult shifting its devices to the consumer market, giving it the potential to boost its financial results considerably.
In the meantime, the company is concentrating on the elite sports market, rolling out new technology developed in a joint venture with the CSIRO, and designed to be used in indoor arenas and training facilities where GPS tracking does not work.
The ClearSky local positioning system installs anchor nodes around the indoor area to track players’ movements.
“They communicate with the devices the players are wearing, and use the time and flight of the radio signals to work out the position of the players on the field and their velocity,” Catapult’s chief executive Shaun Holthouse says.
Catapult hopes to have the system installed in Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium – which has a retractable roof – in time for the beginning of the 2014 AFL season.
The company has also developed a new athlete analytics software platform and is updating its devices to be used with newer satellite tracking systems that are said to be more accurate than GPS.