Who is the most credible person in the United States at the junction of technology and sports? It was a question asked a year ago by Adir Shiffman, Chairman and Founder of Catapult Sports.
“Every single person we spoke to said, ‘Mark Cuban, but you’ll never get him involved. He gets bombarded with requests,’ ” Shiffman said.
The Australian-based analytics and technology company wanted to expand its efforts and possibly relocate its global headquarters to the U.S. Having name-recognition — along with the company’s already-established presence in the technology space — would bode well for even more rapid growth. So, after a series of emails and phone calls with Cuban, the Dallas Mavericks owner joined Catapult as both an investor and advisor.
“This is hard to believe, but people outside the U.S. are much less familiar with Mark than people in the U.S. The way I described it to people in Australia when we brought Mark Cuban on, because we don’t get Shark Tank in Australia, is I said, ‘He’s Donald Trump, but bigger. And much better,’ ” Shiffman said.
Cuban not only understood the vision for how Catapult and its GPS tracking wearable technology would impact sports, but according to Shiffman, he was “emotionally committed to the business” as well, with the Mavericks being one of the early adopters.
With the addition of Cuban, Catapult, a three-year-old company, established a presence in Chicago in 2014, an ideal access point to airport travel and in close proximity to all of the five major U.S. professional leagues in New York City.
Brian Kopp, formerly with STATS, LLC for six years, also joined Catapult Sports this summer as President of North America. Kopp’s arguably most known for spearheading STATS’ SportVU tracking technology that was implemented in all 29 NBA arenas prior to the 2013-14 season. He’ll now be tasked with growing Catapult’s U.S. team, which has fewer than 10 employees, along with increasing market share domestically. According to Shiffman, Catapult has “80 percent market share of a one percent penetrated market.”
“I think the real driver of the growth will be the college market — football, basketball,” said Kopp, who added that Catapult’s clients include half of the NBA and a third of the NFL. “It’s a significant opportunity for us along with soccer and Olympic-style sports as well.”
Overseas, Catapult added Barry McNeill as the Chief Executive Officer for Europe, Middle East and Africa in mid-October. Following a 13-year stint with Prozone Sports, another sports technology firm, McNeill admired the level of ambition and forward-thinking mindset shared by Catapult’s senior leadership and its shareholders. He’ll help soccer and rugby clubs in Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East and South America maximize the technology and, in turn, make more sense of the data they’re deriving from it.
Enhanced ball-tracking technology will be rolled out in the near future in addition to further innovations in the bio-metric wearable devices. While Catapult continues its push as an industry leader in the next wave of sports analysis, it won’t rest on its widespread clientele base, which includes teams in France, Portugal, the Netherlands, China and New Zealand.
“As I’ve said many times before, I will not feel any sense of achievement until we have built this company into a billion dollar business,” Shiffman said. “That’s what we’re focused on.”