Everything revolves around sport for Christoph Mickel. In his heyday, he actively participated in the three sports of tennis, swimming and hockey all at the same time, the later in the German hockey league. It was thus natural that he would study sports science at university. Mickel has now received his doctorate in sport coaching science and is CEO of a startup in the sport tech sector. Together with his co-founders Dr. Gerrit Kollegger and Janos Koschwitz – both sport scientists and computer scientists – Mickel wants to fill a gap in the market. The trio have developed an app that will make video analysis easy to use and affordable for the popular sport sector. A special feature is that Athlyzer is the first tool of this type that utilises expertise from people who are themselves athletes, coaches or sports officials. The app is also platform-independent and does not only allow users to improve the performance of sportsmen, sportswomen and teams but can also support clubs with their marketing activities with the aid of highlight reels.
Widely used training method
“We have created a product developed by coaches for coaches”, says Mickel. Analysing video recordings has long been part of a coach’s repertoire to improve movement techniques and tactics. These recordings –which used to be taken using a camcorder and evaluated on a television set in a laborious process with the aid of timecodes – are now fully digitalized. “No other training method is so universally used”, says the expert. These moving images are used in elite sport to improve performance by the last one or two percent that could make the difference between victory and defeat. However, the potential for improving performance outside of professional sport is much larger. Although digitalization has made many things easier, most sport clubs are hesitant to invest in this technology because they are afraid of the high costs involved and believe that their coaching staff lack the required expertise. “Not all coaches are technophiles”, says Mickel.
Intuitive and affordable technology for all types of sport
The solution developed by ATHLYZER does not require any expensive hardware or specialist knowledge, it is intuitive to use, runs on any operating system and can be adapted for every type of sport and any level of performance. The user simply needs a mobile phone or tablet to film the tournaments, games or training sessions and then to edit them, share them for collaborative assessment, stream them, add drawings or combine them with video clips from third parties. The data is automatically converted and made available via the cloud to all those involved. The business model behind the app is as follows: ATHLYZER concludes subscription contracts with individual partners – clubs, associations, leagues or coaches. The annual fee is based on the service package selected by the user. The startup currently offers a so-called “freemium” package and two fee-based packages.
Still benefiting from HIGHEST to this day
The business idea developed by the three sport experts has now attracted numerous investors. The ATHLYZER team has already successfully participated in two investment rounds with business angels. “Without the EXIST grant, which we were able to secure as startup capital with the support of HIGHEST, we would not have come as far as we have today” says Mickel. The advisers at HIGHEST not only accompanied his team through the pitfalls of the application process but also helped them to develop a clear roadmap. “HIGHEST is a really important point of contact for entrepreneurs and we are still benefiting from their support to this day.” After they were awarded the EXIST grant in 2017, the clock was ticking for the three entrepreneurs. ATHLYZER was able to develop its minimum viable product very quickly, made it available to partners in the sport sector for ten months, collect feedback from the network and optimise the prototypes.
The break-even point has merely been delayed
A scalable software was thus ready by March 2019. The startup has since been able to secure more than one hundred paying test customers for its app. Naturally, the Covid 19 pandemic also had an impact on ATHLYZER GmbH and has slowed their path to the market. “We felt that we had hit a wall in the beginning but we were fortunate in the end because we could afford to concentrate on our development work over the last year”, explains Mickel. The entrepreneurs continue to believe in their product and investors have remained onboard. There are around 88,000 sports clubs in Germany – a huge market that Mickel, Kollegger and Koschwitz want to continue to conquer. The break-even point has merely been delayed and ATHLYZER aims to be profitable from 2023 onwards.
- July 2017
Foundation and EXIST grant
- December 2017 – October 2018:
Beta Testing phase
- March 2019:
First scalable version of ATHLYZERcoach
- July 2019
First investment from business angels
- September 2019:
ATHLYZERteam is released
- March 2020
Second investment from business angels
- December 2020
Beta testing of ATHLYZER 3.0
Services provided to Athlyzer by HIGHEST
- Initial consultation in 2016
- EXIST Business Start-up Grant with advice and support from July 2017 to June 2018
- Workshops and individual coaching
- Opportunities to present their idea as part of the HIGHEST network (e.g. HIGHEST Club 1877 Evening, Start-up & Innovation Day 2018 + 2019)
- Since the consultation period ended at the beginning of 2019, the co-founders have supported the network as peer mentors for sport tech startup projects