The story of Amsterdam-based startup Metrica Sports reads like a fairytale: three students become friends over their shared love for football, and while watching their favourite sport together they realize they can use the science they apply in university to create usable data that football clubs need. Next thing you know their favourite team FC Barcelona becomes one of their favourite clients. It sounds too good to be true, but it all really happened to Metrica Sports in less than three years time. Founder Rubén Saavedra tells us how they did it when we visit their office at Ace Venture Lab’s Startup Village.
Football friends becoming founders
When Barcelona-born Saavedra came to Amsterdam as a neuro science exchange student, he became friends with Argentinian Bruno Dagnino: “With me being from Barcelona and Bruno being from Argentina, Messi was an easy link. We were also the only guys in the faculty who loved football”. Through playing football they met Enzo Angiletta, who had his own video production company. While watching matches together the three friends realized that all the data about distances crossed thrown at you during halftime are usually only interesting for the commentators, but not useful for the teams themselves. “I was researching tracking data with mice & rats, Bruno was doing that with eye movements, and then we saw this was available with football as well”. The three friends saw a niche. The neuroscience students decided to apply their movement tracking technique to football and Metrica Sports was born.
Analyzing the market
From 2013 they started to analyze the market for a year and a half by speaking with lots of football teams: “When we asked sports teams how they analyzed their matches, each of them said it was all video”. As Metrica’s software was going to reduce the time an analyst spends going back and forth through video footage drastically, the founders knew they were up to something good. They also made sure no one else was already doing what they had in mind: “There were two types of software already, but neither provided the insights & visualization we offer”.
A Footmapp full of possibilities
So Metrica Sports decided to develop an MVP for their program called Footmapp. It offers Identification, Analysis as well as Communication. “Identification used to be time-consuming and error-prone “, Rubén explains. “Footmapp gives the option for personalised pattern detection”. Coaches that know what they want to look for, can find any match information though Footmapp. Analysis is more precise, plus the analyst can now actually focus on his job instead of rewinding and fast forwarding video tapes for most of the week. Communication improves as through Footmapp, coaches can provide players then receive detailed reports explaining exactly what they did right and wrong, and what they need to focus on.