Today I’m talking with Michael Höglund – the founder of xowizard.com – a blend of GitHub and Google Analytics for team sports based in Linköping.
Tell us about yourself
My name is Michael Höglund and I am the founder of xowizard.com. XO Wizard is like GitHub and Google Analytics for team sports. We are a Linköping based startup (read: happy grinders beside our “normal” jobs).
Today I work as an IT consultant focusing on web strategy and project management. Before that I worked as a Product Manager for a sports gaming company here in Linköping called Power Challenge, which currently has two IP’s (www.powersoccer.com and managerzone.com). Prior to that I worked at Stadium with e-commerce. I’ve always been a big sports fan, and my love of American football came in the early 90′s and kind of exploded when working at Power Challenge (we developed an IP that was never released to the public – a football game). Now, I play quarterback in a flag football team in my free-time. I am also older than dirt (35).
What problem is xowizard trying to solve?
One common trait that we believe unites all sports teams, on all levels, from the little league team in hockey, the division 7 soccer team, to the big pro teams in basketball, football, hockey, and soccer is that they all want to play better and win when they are on the field.
Our vision for XO Wizard is that every sports team in the world uses our cloud platform to work smarter, educate better, be more competitive, and wins more games – we fundamentally change their approach to the game with technology.
Running a sports team is essentially the same as running a company. Coaches face a lot of the same challenges as executives: coming up with strategies and tactics to outsmart other teams (companies), manage and communicate with players (employees), and collaborate with other coaches (colleagues) – people that all need to be on the same page, have the same information, the same goal, and do their jobs to win a lot of games (help the company to be successful).
Whereas most companies have modern technology to help them with that, most of team sports live in a technology vacuum, or use tools designed for other purposes than to manage their team. Excel was not made for team sports analytics and PowerPoint wasn’t made to create and collaborate around plays and playbooks.
Today, coaches waste time manually preparing practices and produce game plan, time they could spend coaching their players. A lot of the tools on the market geared towards team sports are old school 1-computer installation DVD’s that don’t harness the power of cloud collaboration and sharing.
Annually, teams can spend anywhere from 500 to 2000 $ on printer costs.
Today’s sports teams have an untapped potential and can use technology as leverage to improve all facets of their teams, and ultimately make the team win more games. Coaches lack decision-support and analytics to fully realize their teams’ potential. What should we do on third and long? When should we shoot 3-pointers, and from where? Paper playbooks can’t crunch data. Every play in a game produces multiple valuable data points, but most teams have no way of collecting and analyzing this wealth of data to enhance decision-making with game planning, adjustments, and evaluation. Those who do are confined to corporate-level customized solutions costing tens of thousands of dollar. The average team doesn’t have the money to finance top-level tools to enhance their performance. Paper cant’ crunch data, reveal opponent’s trends, strengths, and weaknesses.
For instance, the drawn play, from chalkboard to printed playbook, is the cornerstone of American football. Since the sport’s inception plays have been drawn, printed, copied and handed out to the team as static, non-dynamic, expensive sheets of paper. Paper playbooks are not conducive to self-study and learning; they lack interactivity, commenting function, and additional content – like video. Players don’t learn fast enough, deep enough, and don’t play as well as they could.
Most kids today use some device every day for connecting, sharing, gaming, and learning, but when it comes to their own sport they are stuck with paper playbooks. Coaches use Word/PowerPoint to draw plays and are not able to collaborate with other coaches or share the plays with their players, in an environment that caters to, and is familiar to, the players: a social network.
The few digital playbooks on the market today are geared towards pro and collegiate teams, with the iPad as the primary platform. The average team can’t afford to buy iPads for all their players. This means that cutting-edge technology for sports teams are only for the select few: pro and collegiate teams with deep pockets to pay for on-premise enterprise installations.
Tell us a little more about the product itself?
XO Wizard brings the state of the art technology used by pro teams at a fraction of the cost to sports teams on every level in the world. We believe every team should be able to use cutting-edge technology to make their team competitive – whether you are a high school or a power franchise in the NFL, NBA, NHL, or the Premier League. We provide coaches and sports teams with a cloud platform and software where coaches can. XO Wizard works on all devices, mobile, tablets, and web. Coaches can draw directly on their mobile or tablet standing on the field.
- Use a virtual chalkboard/whiteboard to create and draw plays
- Create and manage playbooks
- Plan and prepare practices
- Plan and prepare games and matches.
- Analyze plays, playbooks, games, and opponents with the help of game data.
- Collaborate with other coaches
- Communicate and teach players
Most team sports use some sort of playbook to educate their players of how they should play. Coaches draw up formations, plays, and how the players should act in game situations, on chalkboards and whiteboards. This is a common trait we have identified across team sports, and it an especially dominant trait in American football, but also in sports like basketball, baseball, soccer, volleyball, hockey, and handball to name a few.
So, where is the company now – how far away from launch are you?
We are launching a private beta after the summer/early fall (there goes the holiday) and right now we are basically in our own version of training camp; grinding and coding. 100 coaches are in line for our private beta – almost all of them US college and high school coaches.
We are somewhat stealthy when it comes to the details of our service – it’s a copy free-for-all world unfortunately, and we want to keep some distance between us and potential competitors.