Our Startup series analyzes companies and founders who are innovating in the fields of athlete performance, fan participation, team / league operations and other areas of high sporting impact. If you want to be considered for this series, tell us about your mission.
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Shortest lift in the world: “We’ve revolutionized sports training into virtual reality and artificial intelligence.”
Company: Rezzil. “It comes from mental endurance.”
Location: Global: Manchester, England; USA: Mahwah, New Jersey
Year of foundation: 2017
Funding so far: “Investment in seeds”.
Who are your investors? “Lately we’ve had a big round with some big football names, including Thierry Henry, Gary Neville, Michail Antonio, Anthony Watson, Tyrone Mings, Vincent Kompany and others, for about $ 2.5 million.”
Are you looking for more investments? “Not right now. We want to see the performance of our product in Oculus Quest 2 and our launch at some sports destination sites.”
How does your product work? “Our platform is in a couple of different products. It puts you in an immersive virtual environment and you can interact by doing football exercises in a virtual world. You can do physiotherapy in a virtual world. You can compete in the exercises. It can be put in the head of any player at a football game at any time during the game. It has a great analysis tool. It’s like playing video, watching football or baseball and exploring. We have a product where you can literally go back to any player’s head at any point in the game and the coach can have a perspective, a context basically of why a player made a particular decision. Why did they go left instead of going right? We also have this product. We have some great games coming out in Oculus Quest 2. This is for home use, really for games for the general public. We have the elite product and then we have a home / consumer product. We offer post-match analysis tools, virtual training and rehabilitation ”.
What problem is your company solving? “We give mental representatives to the players. We are giving them muscular memory. We are teaching them great habits. Imagine, you are in a simulated environment, you are doing exercises and doing it. It’s so immersive that it’s fun. It won’t make it laborious. It allows players to train in the system and do it over and over again. The biggest problem that is being solved right now in youth football is not just training, but if you are under a certain age, you are not allowed to direct the ball to practice or games. What happens is that for a long time children do not know how to direct the ball well and the technique is incorrect. Our system allows you to practice headers without impact. This is a huge youth football problem and we have a solution. On our system, our elite systems, or the Oculus Quest 2 package, you’ll see a heading package where you can practice heading. “
Tell us about yourself, co-owner and chief operating officer of Rezzil USA, Christian Barsanti: “I am 50 years old. I worked in financial operations for 25 years. I worked in a small asset management company. I worked in Goldman Sachs asset management for seven years. I worked in Prudential Investment Management for about 12 years. I was a clerk in a medical lab for a year and they ended up buying each other. For the first time I said, “Oh my God, what do I do now?” I met an old friend, Brendan O’Shea, who is now my business partner. He is a very successful businessman, he owned a technology company.
“One thing led to another and we talked about sports and technology. We are both parents of football and what our children experience and how we can create a better experience to train children who use technology. From that, we devised the business plan and started researching the business plan and looking at companies that considered themselves leaders and looked forward, not just a year or two years before, but really. They sold us ideas about virtual reality and about the use of artificial intelligence and other things. We have found the way to this company. At that time, they had just started, they had been doing business for a year. We started talking to them, working with them, and now we’re co-owners and I’m running the operations, which has been an amazing journey. ”
Who are your co-founders / partners? “Andy Etches. Gareth Thatcher. Adam Dickinson. They are our partners and main owners. They are based in Manchester. They are the founders, creators and brains of the system. Andy worked for the City Football group for many years. Wealth of knowledge. Gareth and Adam have extensive knowledge in the gaming industry and the technology industry. I have the responsibility to integrate the product into the US market. Next to me is Brendan O’Shea (business development). Kevin Grogan (business development), former Manchester United player. Kevin is a great face for football. He has great experience, playing in Europe at the highest levels. Here in the United States, he was a coach for many years. It is very well connected and does a great job putting us in touch with a lot of great people. PJ Petrow (business development). PJ has also been in football for over 20 years, as an institute and club coach. He is a great personality and a great networker. Those two really helped us expand the footprint in the states. “
How much does your product cost and who is your target customer? “Our target customer for the elite program is youth clubs for professional teams. The cost could be from a training session: you can buy training sessions at a local franchise or retail store that normally has them. $ 30 to $ 50 for half an hour Two, you can buy a basic package of all the drills Clubs could spend more than $ 500 to thousands of dollars a month It depends on the club or team But it covers “And then Rezzil Player 22 in Oculus Quest 2, which can be downloaded for $ 14.99. But that goal is the consumer market, the home model, the kid who’s home and wants to play.”
How do you market your product? “At the moment, mainly online, through word of mouth and organic. Organically outside of England, they have begun to market through social platforms. We’ve also been using word of mouth. I’ve been on the road and worked with both professional teams and clubs. This has been our main source of marketing right now. We haven’t spent a huge amount, but that will change. “
How do you scale and what is your level of growth? “A specific growth level for the United States would be that I want to make a minimum growth of 20% year-on-year. To scale it properly, we use a franchise model in the United States where I can work with local partners in their regions, because they are the local experts, and I can train them and teach them the system, how it works and how to communicate with customers.From here, they can take advantage of their local market, their local clubs, their local sports, professional teams and sell them themselves. This is the model we have used. “
Who are your competitors and what makes you different? “In what we provide right now, we do not have much competition. When it comes to using virtual reality as a sports training service, there are one or two companies that offer something, a different sport, but nothing about football at the moment that we are doing ”.
What is the unfair advantage that separates your business? “One, to be the first in the market with a service that we offer. Two, is the code, the algorithms behind it and how it was designed. The guys from England did such a fantastic job of taking all their collective experiences and bringing them together on an immersive, real-quality platform that provides a huge amount of data and is fun. They have taken advantage of all their experiences and made a great niche and are able to develop it in our system. “
What milestone have you reached recently or will you soon reach? “We have secured contracts for very large sports destinations, those massive sports destination places where people go to travel tournaments. It represents a significant amount of business. We have two and hope to expand them. It could bring a huge amount of money, just for being in a facility, which makes us very excited. This helps with marketing. People will see it in these places, come home and say, “Wow, I want to get it. Where can I get it? And we are integrating in different places in the United States, whether in clubs or sports equipment facilities or in a store.
What obstacles has your company had to overcome? “It is a completely new product. The biggest hurdle is teaching and educating the public about the product and what it does, and how you can train an athlete and create those good habits, about your ability to compare an athlete and see all the positive attributes. Because it is completely new, the public needs to be educated. We are doing it, which is good. But if the public isn’t educated, they won’t get it, so you’ll have to work with the public and really sell it. Yes, it’s coming, this is the new wave, take it and see the benefits. Once they enter the system, they are impressed and see it right away. It’s so immersive. They’re like, “Yeah, I get it.” ”
How successful is your business? “We seem to have integrated Rezzil into several sports teams and everyone is wondering,‘ What is your Rezzil index? We have an algorithm that measures a player’s adaptability, his composure, his reaction time. It’s called the Rezzil Index, and we put players in five exercises that measure these things. It is an algorithm that weighs heavily on certain features. It comes out with a numeric value. I would love for many of the teams and players in the United States to talk to each other and say, “What is your rate of devouring?” Think of it as a Scouting platform. The success for me is that everyone talks about it like that. ”
Where do you see Rezzil moving in relation to other places beyond football? “It simply came to our notice then. We add basketball. I’ve seen iterations of American football, tennis. There are many other sports coming out. In Oculus Quest 2, to prove it, there is a great basketball lane game. You get a workout without even knowing it. There is a large reaction wall where you need to identify red dots in certain areas and point them out. We are working on others. We realize that we need to take advantage of other sports, especially in the states.
Do you have a guiding principle? “There are practitioners and then there are people who talk a lot. My main principle is that you need to be able to run and get things done. To give context, there are people who will talk a lot and do nothing. You really need to find that person who can not only think micro and macro, but also be able to run and do things. ”
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