March Madness, when many are focused on college basketball and the run to the Final Four tournament, is not far off. For those wanna-be players, there’s a product produced by an Overland Park company that helps even the most amateur basketball players improve their game.
It’s ShotTracker, started in 2013 by Bruce Ianni and Davyeon Ross, two men who are passionate about the game.
“We’ve created ShotTracker, the first wearable technology to track shot attempts, makes, misses and location on the court and provides players and coaches the ability to track this in real time,” Ianni said. “It’s the Fitbit for basketball … (but) it’s invisible to the player or spectator.”
Users download a free application, which ShotTracker also developed, to use the product.
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“This is about revolutionizing the game of basketball for the player and the fan,” Ianni said.
The ShotTracker retails for $149.99 including a net sensor, wrist sensor, wristband, sleeve and one charging unit.
Q: What motivated you to create ShotTracker?
“I was on my backyard driveway teaching my then-11-year-old son how to shoot and develop his muscle memory and thought if my son had some technology in his shooting sleeve and in the net, we could provide significant information to improve his game,” Ianni said.
Ianni found nothing available in the marketplace that could do what he envisioned.
Q: What professional experience did you bring to ShotTracker?
Ianni had started several companies over time and sold them successfully. A former high school basketball player himself, Ianni knew he wanted to bring in a partner with this business. Armed with this idea, Ianni reached out to Ross, who had a background in basketball and technology. Ross, originally from Trinidad and Tobago, played basketball at nearby Benedictine College. He had also worked with Sprint before dabbling in his own business endeavors.
“Davyeon and I both had pervious companies that we had exited from positively,” Ianni said. “We me at Kauffman Foundation’s Pipeline.”
Pipeline is described as an elite organization of the Midwest’s most successful, high-performance entrepreneurs.
“When I came up with the concept of ShotTracker, I knew who to call,” Ianni said.
Ross said, “Any time you can work on something that combines your passion is great. It’s a challenge and there is a big market to support.”
They put together a business plan, tested the market and pooled their money. Eventually they brought in angel investors both knew from prior business ventures. ShotTracker hit the market just before the holidays, being sold online through the company’s website. ShotTracker is made in the United States and shipped by the manufacturer. Ianni said the first batch sold out.
“We were able to get this from concept to a product to ship in a little over a year,” he said.
Q: Who is the target market for ShotTracker?
“Our target customers are the 24 million boys and girls between the ages of 7 and 17 who play competitive basketball year round,” Ianni said. According to Ianni’s research, parents spend $6,000 to $10,000 annually on basketball and related products and tournaments annually hoping to land a coveted college scholarship for their teens.
“The collegiate arena is also part of our market,” he said. “They are the top of our market and influencers.”
Ianni said ShotTracker has not done extensive marketing on the product to date. To get the word out on ShotTracker, the company did hire an outside public relations firm that specializes in wearable technology.
“We have appeared in several national publications,” said Ianni, including Forbes and Wired.
“We shipped the product to them and they loved it,” Ross said.
Q: You are only selling this product online now. What’s next?
Ianni and Ross are now exploring multiple distribution channels for ShotTracker beyond their own website.
“We were fortunate to have big box stores call us and want them in the stores, but we didn’t have the infrastructure to handle that in the beginning,” Ianni said. “We are developing those relationships now.”
Ross said, “In the off season, we’ll be running full tilt.”
There will likely be other products coming down the pipeline.
“We’re continuing to innovate,” Ianni said. “One is our location technology, which tells where a player is when he shoots on the court and it is applicable to several different sports.”
As entrepreneurs, both men said every day is not perfect.
“Sometimes we have great days and some days we want to pull our hair out,” Ross said. “It’s a marathon, and our goal is to win the race. … We wanted to stay grounded.”
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