Shaking up the amateur sports industry with Kiron

At Virgin Atlantic’s recent Business is an adventure event in Boston, three local entrepreneurs were invited to present their business dilemmas to Richard Branson and fellow panellists.

What you will learn from this article

  • How to adapt a product to a target customer base
  • The importance of market research in designing a product
  • Why you should concentrate on business strategy right from the start

One of these companies was Kiron, a tech start-up providing non-professional soccer teams with affordable and easy-to-use performance analytics solutions. We caught up with Cristobal Piñera, Co-founder and CEO of Kiron, to learn more about his business.

Piñera is currently finishing his MBA at the MIT Sloan School of Management. He recently took Kiron through the delta v Accelerator, at MIT’s Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, whose team we spoke to in the lead up to the Business is an adventure event. 

Kiron began with a simple idea, to make the technology that helps professional teams excel available to non-professional teams. “There are hundreds of sports teams using wearable technology with extraordinary results. You have examples that include Manchester City, Real Madrid, the 49ers, and many others,” Piñera says. 

“The problem we saw was that this technology was neither affordable nor accessible for non-professional teams at college and high school level. But if their game is the same and their passion is the same, why shouldn’t they have access to the same technology?” he continues.

Piñera, along with his three co-founders, developed the smart vest as a solution. The smart vest is a chest vest that provides metrics on individual performance, measuring heart rate, distance and speed, and also field analysis, measuring passes, shots and changes in positioning to improve tactical decisions.

Piñera explains its development, “We consider ourselves a software company but the existing third party hardware was just too expensive to use. So we decided to develop the hardware from scratch, not trying to replicate what already exists, but trying to build a product that makes more sense for the customer we are targeting.”

Read more: Building a challenger brand with Tyler Haney

In order to appeal to non-professional teams, Piñera introduced a series of hardware developments. “We improved its functionality, design and price. We charge one-fifth of the cheapest solution that is currently on the market.”

Kiron have also adjusted their software to make it simpler and easier for amateur teams with fewer analytical resources to use. “We talked to over 60 coaches and over 500 professional and amateur players. We integrated this knowledge into our user experience development. Interestingly, the more we continued the conversation with them, the more data sets we started taking out, rather than in. We are now in a place where we have created the best value product for them,” Piñera explains.

Piñera is no stranger to the risks involved in entrepreneurship. He is a serial entrepreneur with more than six years of experience working in product and business development in start-ups. Before Kiron, he co-founded AppCity, the biggest smart city platform in Latin America.

“The thing about entrepreneurship is that I know how tough it can be. I have experienced the really harsh side to entrepreneurship, failing and everything.” He says. “For me, it’s not about building a business per se, it’s about building something that adds value. Something – and this may sound weird – that’s beautiful and simple.” He adds.

In terms of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs, Piñera has learnt some critical lessons. “It’s important to align the product you want to build with the business model right from the beginning. On my first time, I thought business strategy was something I could disregard until later, but that isn’t true at all,” says Piñera. “Right now, we’re designing this beautiful product but making sense of our market and business model right from the start,” he continues.

It’s clear that Kiron has a lot of potential. Whilst they’re facing the challenge of targeting a fragmented customer base, they’ve also got a first-mover advantage in a previously untapped market. Their progress is certainly one to watch. 

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