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Sports Business

Local firm tells NFL honchos at Super Bowl its product can change game

February 10, 2016
KEYWORDS Sports Business

Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos weren’t the only big winners last weekend in San Francisco.

A Noblesville tech-sports business start-up also scored.

The co-founders of Diamond Charts LLC traveled to the Bay Area last week to pitch a new product to a group of NFL executives, team owners and venture capitalists as part of a select group of finalists in a TechCrunch-Super Bowl competition dubbed 1st and Future.

TechCrunch, an online publisher of technology industry news, has become well known in tech and business circles for its annual Crunchies Awards.

Last year the NFL asked TechCrunch to hold a contest that would draw promising startups and technology that would advance the game of football and facilities leaguewide. The contest drew thousands of entries.

The local three-person company was one of 12 finalists selected to pitch its new product and services before a gathering of 400 influential sports business executives, technology types and deep-pocketed investors.

The founders of Diamond Charts, which made their name through statistical analysis in baseball, have now launched a new company—Telemetry Sports—and designed a product focusing on analyzing football in a whole new way.

The judging panel—which peppered Diamond Charts and Telemetry Sports principals Kellen Hurst and Jeremy Hochstedler with questions after their five-minute presentation—included former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, venture capitalist Jim Breyer (who according to Forbes has a net worth of $2.4 billion), Nike CEO Mark Parker, Bay Area neurological surgeon Mitchel Berger and retired NFL linebacker Dhani Jones.

“Our new tech was very well received, but we did not win the category’s prize of $50,000 and tickets to Super Bowl 50,” Hurst told IBJ. “However, it was worth much more just being there in front of our target market and the discussions at the reception after the pitch.”

Diamond Charts has become a huge hit among college baseball and softball teams big and small since the two Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology alumni launched it in early 2013 with $200 and what seemed like a crazy idea.

Hurst, 31, and Hochstedler, 32, combined a love of baseball, a knack for computer coding, and an obsession with statistics to devise a service few—if any—firms had offered college baseball teams.

When the company began growing rapidly, they called old friend Paul Gagnon, 32, a computer whiz who lived on the same dorm floor as Hochstedler at Rose-Hulman, to help them grow the firm.

The company’s client list grew from 15 in 2013 to 250 last year, and the firm has provided statistical analysis and scouting reports for the last three College Baseball World Series champions.

Now the company wants to run its number-crunching business onto the gridiron. At last week’s NFL-sanctioned 1st and Future competition, Hurst and Hochstedler demonstrated a method—using the RFID tags in every players shoulder pads—of reviewing and cataloging plays connected to video which could dramatically change the way football teams analyze themselves and scout opponents.

“Three years ago with our first start-up … we revolutionized the way scouting was done in college baseball and softball,” Hurst told the audience. “Today at Telemetry Sports we’re utilizing that expertise and experience to turn NFL data into actionable data that will save coaches time, identify opponents’ tendencies and help better prepare for the future.”

At one point in the presentation, Hochstedler used the system his firm developed to pull up all plays in a particular game in which Indianapolis Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton managed to get open, demonstrating with a telestrator and advanced computer graphics how he managed to get open and how those plays might be better defended.

“On every play, the telemetry platform classifies hundreds of micro-events or what we call play features; formations, routes, coverages, quarterback drop-backs, [the action of] the pulling guard, the corner playing press coverage with inside leverage,” Hochstedler explained.

Using the program, football coaches can quickly pull up all the places a receiver lined up on every play when he became open or what the result was every time a certain defense was used against an opposing offense.

The Noblesville company, which worked with the MIT Analytics Lab to develop its new system, hinted that the technology could be used for other sports and even by those playing in fantasy sports leagues.

“Think about how fans on NFL.com can use this,” Hochstedler said.

“This is just the beginning,” Hurst added as the presentation concluded.

To see the local firm's live presentation, click here.






 

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