SFIA Member Spotlight – Xborders

“Gamifying” the world of fitness, Xborders chats about their upcoming product to launch in 2018.
Member: Xborders
Spotlight on: 

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Glenn Levin, Founder and CEO
What Is Xborders?

Levin: A casual game platform for sports and fitness enthusiasts who are using activity tracking devices and sensors. We are gamifying the fitness data in a unique way. A lot of these wearables and fitness app companies have some gamification – leader boards and badges you can earn, but we are incorporating a compelling mobile game experience.

How are you gamifying fitness data?

Levin: Data is accessible through Application Programming Interfaces (APIS) and members of our Playmatics engineering team are using that data to create the game.

Who does your development team compose of?

Levin: I feel very fortunate to be working with the mobile game development company Playmatics. The CEO of Playmatics, Margaret Wallace, along and Chief Creative Officer, Nick Fortugno, have been very helpful in the process. We have been working with the Chief Technology Officer, John Szeder, who is a brilliant engineer and has been doing a great job so far. We currently have an MVP – a minimum viable product, which we developed for starters.

Where does the name Xborders come from?

Levin: The genesis of this venture came from a couple of years ago when I was watching the closing ceremony of the Olympic games. Some of the athletes are from countries which are enemies, but everyone was singing and dancing in the spirit of sportsmanship and good will. I wanted to capture that virtually – so Xborders meaning no borders or crossborders.  If you can envision a Pangaea, where there are no borders between countries, but one true global community – that’s what I was hoping to achieve with this venture while using fitness and sports as a vehicle to connect people globally.

When is your target launch date and when was your company founded?

Levin: It was founded about two years ago and we are planning to launch in 2018.

Is your product stationary or on the go (mobile)?

Levin: It’s a casual mobile game experience, as opposed to a hardcore game. You interact with Xborders after you are done with your exercise and data has been collected by the sensors.

Who is your target audience and where do you see your product being used?

Levin: Our target demographic age is somewhere in the 20s and up into the 40s. We are looking at people who are both committed athletes and fitness enthusiasts who monitor their activity and are also eager to motivate people to get off the couch. We have a product that will make exercise fun, enjoyable and keep them engaged. One of our goals is to help fitness device companies cut churn and keep the users engaged because many people who use fitness devices lose interest in their device. We are also currently exploring a product for a younger demographic, which will have a slightly different business model, but we are very excited.

What inspired you to create Xborders?

Levin: I was a competitive swimmer and water polo player in college at Brown University so sports have always been a passion of mine. After I graduated and started working, I was intrigued by the concept of social networking and connecting people globally, through the shared interests in sports and fitness.

What are some overall trends that you are seeing in the sports and app market?

Levin: Sensors are really big right now because people are starting to keep track of all sorts of things – not just the steps taken per day, but calories, blood pressure, and even sleep. Casual, professional and weekend athletes are starting to monitor their fitness and health. So, our job is to take this data and combine it with the exploding game market.

Are you working on any partnerships right now?

Levin: We are currently exploring strategic partnerships and are actively seeking partners in that fitness app space. We feel like we can enhance what they already have.

Where do you see your company in 5 years?

Levin: We would like to be partnered with some of the major players in the digital fitness space, as well as international sports organizations and events. We hope to have viable partnerships to positively impact people globally and help make people healthier – especially with the rise in global obesity.

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Future Industry Leaders Scholars Profile: Jarred Law

“Sports has always had an important role in my life so it’s what I know and more importantly it’s what I love.”

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This summer, the SFIA will acknowledge five young professionals in the sports and fitness industry who have been selected as the 2017 SFIA Future Industry Leaders Scholarship recipients. All five recipients will be present at the fifth annual SFIA Industry Leaders Summit this September 13-14 in Chicago.

In the weeks leading up to the event, the SFIAinsider blog, in collaboration with SFIA Weekly, will be highlighting exclusive interviews with each of our five winners, in order of participant’s response. We are honored to have the opportunity to put them in the spotlight in the lead up to this prestigious networking event.

This week, we meet Jarred Law, a Category Manager for Accessories and Apparel at Under Armour.

SFIAinsider: Why did you apply to the Future Industry Leaders Scholarship Program?

Jarred Law: It sounded like a great way to further develop my business acumen and it was too enticing to interact with the leaders of the industry to pass on the opportunity!

SFIAinsider: What made you want to work in the sports and fitness industry?

Jarred Law: Sports has always had an important role in my life so it’s what I know and more importantly it’s what I love.  When I finally caved in and accepted the fact that I was going to be a professional athlete working in sports and helping athletes seemed like a great consolation prize.

SFIAinsider: What exactly do you do in your current position?

Jarred Law: I am responsible for running Under Armour’s football equipment and apparel businesses.  I’m working with a great team to make football athletes better through passion, design and innovation.

SFIAinsider: What do you find the most enjoyable part of your work?

Jarred Law: The two most enjoyable parts of work for me are:

1. Getting to work with the best minds in product, marketing and sales that challenge me to be the best that I can be and

2. Seeing product that you have put blood, sweat and tears into on the field of play and helping give athletes that one extra advantage they are looking for.

SFIAinsider: What are you most looking forward to at this year’s Industry Leaders Summit?

Jarred Law: I touched on it before but I’m really looking forward to networking with some of the sharpest minds in the industry and expanding my knowledge in the industry.

SFIAinsider: What is your favorite sports memory from your lifetime?

Jarred Law: Playing my first lacrosse game in college.  I was lucky enough to play as a freshman and stepping onto the field with my teammates that first game was a great feeling that all of the hard work that I put into the sport was paying off.

SFIAinsider: Do you have a favorite sports movie?

Jarred Law: Remember The Titans- It does a great job of showing the power of sports and the on and off the field aspects that make it so great.

Future Industry Leaders Scholars Profile: Michael Wright

“The most enjoyable part of my job is seeing the positive impact that our donations have on the community, and sharing that impact with the sporting goods manufacturers that have provided us with equipment.”

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This summer, the SFIA will acknowledge five young professionals in the sports and fitness industry who have been selected as the 2017 SFIA Future Industry Leaders Scholarship recipients. All five recipients will be present at the fifth annual SFIA Industry Leaders Summit this September 13-14 in Chicago.

In the weeks leading up to the event, the SFIAinsider blog, in collaboration with SFIA Weekly, will be highlighting exclusive interviews with each of our five winners, in order of participant’s response. We are honored to have the opportunity to put them in the spotlight in the lead up to this prestigious networking event.

This week, we meet Michael Wright, a Community Partnerships Manager at Goodsports, Inc.

SFIAinsider: Why did you apply to the Future Industry Leaders Scholarship Program?

Michael Wright: I applied for this scholarship because I was interested in attended the Industry Leaders Summit and felt that this opportunity would provide me with the chance to network with a number of proven professionals in the sporting goods industry.

SFIAinsider: What made you want to work in the sports and fitness industry?

Michael Wright: Growing up I loved playing sports and being active, but I knew from an early age that I was not going to make it as a professional athlete.  My drive to still somehow be involved in athletics lead me to working as a student equipment manager throughout my time in college.  In that role, I became very familiar with how the back-end of athletics work, which in turn heightened my interest in the industry.

SFIAinsider: What exactly do you do in your current position?

Michael Wright: Good Sports is a non-profit organization that gives all kids the lifelong benefits of sport and physical activity by providing new equipment, apparel and footwear to those most in need.  As the Community Partnerships Manager, my role focuses on overseeing our equipment distribution process, ensuring that we are maximizing our impact on children in the community, while also building relationships in the sporting goods industry to source additional donations of excess equipment that companies may have.

SFIAinsider: What do you find the most enjoyable part of your work?

Michael Wright: The most enjoyable part of my job is seeing the positive impact that our donations have on the community, and sharing that impact with the sporting goods manufacturers that have provided us with equipment.

SFIAinsider: What are you most looking forward to at this year’s Industry Leaders Summit?

Michael Wright: I am looking forward to networking with so many established professionals in the sporting goods industry, and hopefully building longstanding relationships with this group.

SFIAinsider: What is your favorite sports memory from your lifetime?

Michael Wright: I grew up in a small town in the Northwest Corner of Connecticut.  My graduating class in high school had only 77 kids, however in very Hoosier-esque style, my basketball team made the state finals during my senior year.  While on that postseason run, I was very much a role player on that team and did not see the court much, but in my first ever state playoff game I had a double-double while leading my team to the second round.

SFIAinsider: Do you have a favorite sports movie?

Michael Wright: Rudy.  No matter how many times I watch that movie, it never gets old.

Future Industry Leaders Scholars Profile: Ben Bloomfield

“Sports and Fitness is a broad industry category that is quickly changing with increases in technology and overall modernization.”

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This summer, the SFIA will acknowledge five young professionals in the sports and fitness industry who have been selected as the 2017 SFIA Future Industry Leaders Scholarship recipients. All five recipients will be present at the fifth annual SFIA Industry Leaders Summit this September 13-14 in Chicago.

In the weeks leading up to the event, the SFIAinsider blog, in collaboration with SFIA Weekly, will be highlighting exclusive interviews with each of our five winners, in order of participant’s response. We are honored to have the opportunity to put them in the spotlight in the lead up to this prestigious networking event.

This week, we meet Ben Bloomfield, an Account Manager & Sales Analyst at Akervall Technologies, Inc. (SISU Mouth Guards)

SFIAinsider: Why did you apply to the Future Industry Leaders Scholarship Program?

Ben Bloomfield: I’d been intrigued about this program since I first heard about the event. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to network with relevant executives, and I was excited about the chance to be recognized as a future industry leader. My goals are to expand my industry network and knowledge-base, both personally and professionally.

SFIAinsider: What made you want to work in the sports and fitness industry?

Ben Bloomfield: Sports and Fitness is a broad industry category that is quickly changing with increases in technology and overall modernization. It’s interesting to observe the changing of common trends, specifically with the expansion of eCommerce and the decline of brick and mortar establishments. During my undergraduate years, I was an intern at SISU Mouth Guards. Being a part of this rapidly expanding small business is what fueled my passion for sports and fitness.

SFIAinsider: What exactly do you do in your current position?

Ben Bloomfield: I am the lead dental Account Manager and Sales Analyst here. Besides working to grow our dental sales, I also help coordinate daily sales team operations, serve as a software administrator, assist with international account management (distributors), and travel to various expos and tournament sponsorship events.

SFIAinsider: What do you find the most enjoyable part of your work?

Ben Bloomfield: I enjoy connecting with our wholesale clients and end-users to learn about their experiences with our brands.

SFIAinsider: What are you most looking forward to at this year’s Industry Leaders Summit?

Ben Bloomfield: At this year’s ILS I’m most looking forward to the networking opportunities, and the chance to connect with industry executives!

SFIAinsider: What is your favorite sports memory from your lifetime?

Ben Bloomfield: I’d say my entire collegiate golf experience combined makes for a lifetime of favorite memories. 

Future Industry Leaders Scholars Profile: Colin Johnson

“I look forward to meeting with and learning from the most influential people in the sports and fitness industry.”

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This summer, the SFIA will acknowledge five young professionals in the sports and fitness industry who have been selected as the 2017 SFIA Future Industry Leaders Scholarship recipients. All five recipients will be present at the fifth annual SFIA Industry Leaders Summit this September 13-14 in Chicago.

In the weeks leading up to the event, the SFIAinsider blog, in collaboration with SFIA Weekly, will be highlighting exclusive interviews with each of our five winners, in order of participant’s response. We are honored to have the opportunity to put them in the spotlight in the lead up to this prestigious networking event.

This week, we meet Colin Johnson, a Test and Certification Program Lead at VICIS.

SFIAinsider: Why did you apply to the Future Industry Leaders Scholarship Program?

Colin Johnson: It wasn’t on my radar until one of our VP’s suggested that I apply.  That got the wheels turning and after learning a bit more about the Industry Leaders Summit, I came to the realization that I was a good candidate for the Scholarship Program and could really benefit from the opportunity to participate in the summit.

SFIAinsider: What made you want to work in the sports and fitness industry?

Colin Johnson: I’ve been an active person my entire life, playing hockey from a young age and participating in countless other sports and recreational activities over the last 30 years.  From adult rec leagues to constant outdoor adventures, I’m always seeking out new ways to keep myself moving.  So, it’s no surprise that for the last 8 years of my career, I’ve been involved in testing and/or designing products that promote an active lifestyle with a focus on keeping people safe. 

SFIAinsider: What exactly do you do in your current position?

Colin Johnson: Most of the engineers at VICIS wear many hats and I’m no exception, but my primary focus is keeping the test lab running smoothly.   In addition to making sure all our testing is done correctly and efficiently, I must also ensure that the test data we generate is of the highest quality.  When developing a product that keeps athletes safe, high-confidence test data and thoughtful interpretation of that information is essential.

SFIAinsider: What do you find the most enjoyable part of your work?

Colin Johnson: The people.  I’ve always found the people I work with and the resulting personal and professional relationships to be invaluable.  I’ve been fortunate to work alongside motivated, smart, and generally good people.  I try to remind myself that without the human component, nothing in this industry is possible.

SFIAinsider: What are you most looking forward to at this year’s Industry Leaders Summit?

Colin Johnson: I look forward to meeting with and learning from the most influential people in the sports and fitness industry.  The opportunity to interact with these folks on a personal basis is rare and not something I take for granted.  In addition, I hope that I can offer some fresh perspective on the next generation workforce and how companies can set themselves up for success in coming years.  

SFIAinsider: What is your favorite sports memory from your lifetime?

Colin Johnson: I was a freshman in high school and had been called up to the varsity hockey team.  I had to skate hard every day to prove I deserved a spot on a team made up of guys that seemed twice my size.  It was our first playoff game of the season, which just happened to be against our cross-town rival and in front of a packed house.  The game was tied up in the third period and I was battling in front of the net; holding my own, if only just.  A slap shot from one of our defensemen came in fast and low.  I gave one final push to get my stick free and tipped the shot into the top corner of the net, just out of reach of the goalie’s glove.  The crowd erupted and my team swarmed me in celebration.  I had just scored the go-ahead goal and I was thrilled.  We walked out of the rink with a win that night but it’s not the win that stays with me.  It was the experience of working hard for something that seemed improbable, if not impossible, that still reminds me what it is to persevere.  It’s a lesson that applies to far more than sports.

SFIAinsider: Do you have a favorite sports movie?

Colin Johnson: Remember the Titans.  It’s a great movie about how a sport can bring people together and break barriers that seem otherwise insurmountable.  And the soundtrack is pretty great too!

Meet the 2017 Start-Up Finalists

After careful deliberation, the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) selected five finalists for the second annual SFIA Start-Up Challenge. The following entrepreneurs were chosen because their companies strive to bring innovation to the sports & fitness industry.

At SFIA Industry Leaders Summit (ILS) on September 13 in Chicago, these finalists will will have 15 minutes to pitch their new product or service to a panel of senior executive judges. So with out further adieu let’s meet the minds behind these innovative brands:

asensei

A personal trainer who knows the users every move. With sensors throughout the clothing, she tracks posture and movement. She guides and monitors users practice, and provides feedback on form and progress, all delivered in real-time in the user’s ear.

Steven Webster
Steven Webster

In-between captaining, competing and coaching Edinburgh University Karate Club, Steven graduated in Computer Science and Electronics. A 4th degree black belt, he proceeded to coach for Edinburgh during the most successful period of the club’s history – coaching several hundred students, awarding over 20 black belts and winning 10 consecutive national championships. Winner of PWC Coach of the Year award, Steven funded his sport coaching as a full-time hardware and software engineer. Selling his first startup to Adobe in 2005, Steven built a global consulting team winning awards with clients including Nike, NFL and BBC. In 2012 Microsoft asked him to create a new innovation group working with products like Cortana and Kinect to craft new digital experiences for events including London 2012 Olympics and Rio World Cup. Convinced technology has evolved to enable a new category of sport coaching, Steven left Microsoft in 2014 to start asensei.

 

Locally and Heart-Stacked-White

An omni-channel shopping technology company that connects online shoppers to nearby, in-stock merchandise for premium brands. 

 

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Mark Strella

 

Mark Strella is the Director of Business Development at Locally, a leading provider of omni-channel shopping technology for premium brands and retailers. At Locally, Mark leads the sales and client success teams and spearheads growth initiatives. Also a musician.

 

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A cloud-based Smart Court sports video and analytics platform, integrating what happens on-court with an interactive and social online community.

Chen Shachar
Chen Shachar

Chen Shachar brings years of extensive experience in state-of-the-art 3D based simulation, visualization and training systems. Before establishing PlaySight Interactive, Chen was the CTO at Rontal Applications, a start-up in the homeland security market, head of Training & Simulation at Ness A.T. and R&D manager at Simtech Advanced Training & Simulation.

Chen holds an ME in System Engineering and a B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering both from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology at Haifa.

 

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The company’s newest technology, ShotTracker TEAM, automatically captures real-time practices and game stats for an entire basketball team. The technology utilizes sensors that communicate with each other to capture player and ball movement as well as court location.

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Davyeon Ross

Davyeon Ross, the Co-Founder and COO of ShotTracker, Inc., is an innovative technology leader and widely recognized entrepreneur with more than 15 years of experience in the technology space. Prior to co-founding ShotTracker, Davyeon was the founder and CEO of Digital Sports Ventures and served as lead technical and management consultant for eVergance Partners. A native of Trinidad & Tobago, West Indies, Ross was a four-year letterman for Benedictine College’s basketball team. Ross earned a bachelor of science in Computer Science during his time at Benedictine and later earned his MBA from Mid-America Nazarene University.

 

VERT logo

Wearable athletic technology focused on creating a better experience for athletes, coaches and fans. Used in a variety of sports, including basketball, volleyball, running and other health and fitness activities.

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Martin Matak

Martin Matak is the founder and President of VERT a company focused on wearable technology with broadcast and social integrated experiences. Prior to founding VERT, Martin Matak spent over 16 years in the advertising and marketing profession with key positions at Zimmerman Advertising. He concluded his career as the Chief Client Officer for the automotive retail division prior to transitioning into the wearable technology industry. Mr. Matak received a B.S. degree in Advertising from the University of Florida with outside concentration in Astrophysics.

The winner will be announced during the Awards Ceremony during Day One of the 2017 Industry Leaders Summit and will receive a spotlight in the SFIA Insider Blog, a commemorative plaque, a free year long membership to SFIA, and a six-week public relations campaign from Uproar PR.

Register for the 2017 ILS, here. To attend the Start-Up Challenge, click ‘yes’ when registering for the 2017 ILS.

The Healing Power of Sports

“Sports has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire, it has the power to unite people in a way that little else does.” – Nelson Mandela

Every so often the healing power of Sports takes center stage. Rivalries are forgotten and hatchets are buried, if only for a moment. In these moments, we have a chance to reflect, a chance to realize that Sports can unite.

On Wednesday, June 14th, the Sports & Fitness Industry Association’s Senior Vice President of Government Relations & Public Affairs, Bill Sells began his day by attending Congressional baseball practice to arrange for a Congressman to escort MLB great Steve Garvey on game day. At 7:15 am gunshots rang out at the Republican team practice field. Sells saw the gunman fire his rifle and dropped to the ground behind the batting cage. He then scrambled to the first base dugout during a brief lull in the gunfire.  Shots continued for 7 to 8 minutes as two Capitol police officers engaged the gunman.

Crime Scene

The immediate action and bravery of the Capitol police officers no doubt saved lives. If the gunman had been able to get from the third base side to first base side where everyone was taking cover it could have been catastrophic. 

As word trickled back to our offices we all were relieved at Bill’s safety, but remained concerned for those injured.  Shootings are tragic everywhere but when it’s in your back yard and involves someone you know, it hits close to home.

The Congressional baseball game is an annual tradition with origins in 1909. The contest, referred to by the games official website as “the only annual partisan showdown beloved by all and enjoyed by thousands,” pits Congressional Representatives from the Republicans side against Congressional Representatives from the Democratic side. As with most matters in Congress, you must pick a side!

SIFA Sign Congressional Game

The Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) provides members’ products to the teams for the game then donates it to a charity afterward.  As the official equipment sponsor, SFIA has been heavily involved with the Congressional baseball game since Sells joined SFIA in 2005.

This brings us to Thursday, June 15th, the night the Congressional baseball game seemed to mean even more. For starters, last year ticket sales were about 9,000 people. The 2017 game reported 24,959 general admission tickets sold and over $1.5 million* raised for charity.
SFIA Congressional Game Sign

It was a subdued atmosphere on that muggy night in DC, opposing players, with opposing view-points, opposing ideologies and opposite ideas of how the country should be run all met at second base. Then they took a knee, bowed a head and engaged in a silent prayer for the injured, including Majority Whip Steve Scalise who was in critical condition.

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Coverage of Congress often focuses on disagreements between the parties, but the baseball game has always focused on the players love of the game.  That love and the love for fellow baseball player and Congressional colleague Steve Scalise was very evident last Thursday. As the teams knelt in the center of the field, the stadium fell silent out of respect for those who were injured and impacted by this horrific act. Sports once again united people this time as part of the healing process.

Sportsmanship carries real weight. Democrats and Republicans have participated in multiple Congressional sports as opponents, but also as teammates. The Congressional Football, Softball, Basketball, Soccer and Hockey games all feature bipartisan teams.  Members of Congress who practice and play together develop relationships across the aisle which help them work on bipartisan solutions together not just oppose someone else’s idea.

Sports breaks down walls, and as an association, the SFIA is proud of that fact. Congress may be considered oil and water or cats vs. dogs, but through the power of sports they’re able to step outside and for a moment unite.

Every even numbered year two things happen: Olympics and Elections.  Olympics brings nations together and lately elections have been pulling us apart.  Perhaps this tragedy at baseball practice will lead to more civility and start the healing of a nation…and Congressional sports participants will lead the way.

*The Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation and The Washington Literacy Center will receive a portion of proceeds, as well as the United States Capitol Police officers and those injured last week.