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Blue Label buys into sports data start-up Mobii

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Roderick Barret, co-founder Mobii; Leigh Buckle an executive at MyRun; Tallies Taljaard, Blue Label Ventures co-founder; and Richard Hartley CEO Mobii.
Roderick Barret, co-founder Mobii; Leigh Buckle an executive at MyRun; Tallies Taljaard, Blue Label Ventures co-founder; and Richard Hartley CEO Mobii.

Blue Label Ventures, the venture capital and private equity arm of JSE-listed Blue Label Telecoms, has invested in Cape Town-based technology start-up Mobii Systems.

The deal will see Blue Label take up 26% of Mobii, giving the company’s team of developers of sports data applications the funding needed for new and ongoing product development, as well as access to a wider customer base and increased market share.

“Blue Label Ventures identifies and invests in disruptive businesses that have the potential to reach new markets and achieve global commercial success,” says Tallies Taljaard, co-founder of Blue Label Ventures.

“Mobii’s team of engineers have, with very little funding, built two exciting and truly innovative applications that have massive potential to go global. Through our investment, we will enable the business to grow and take advantage of opportunities for expansion into new markets. High performance sporting technology is a global multi-billion-dollar industry that is still fragmented and underserved.”

Timing platform

Mobii built the timing platform on which Blue Label Telecom’s popular timed fitness events company MyRun operates.

Activity data is collected from various wearable Mobii transponders and synchronised to microservices architecture for real-time processing.

The technology platform comprises a range of custom designed electronic hardware, handles large-scale applications and can be adapted for similar markets to collect Internet of things datasets.

According to Blue Label, Mobii’s developers built the backbone for rugby match analysis on the Stratus platform, which gives teams, managers, coaches, medical personnel and referees the data, tools and insights to help them plan their strategy and perform at their best.

It notes that Stratus collects and processes billions of data points to create simplified reporting and predictive analysis tools.

“Our long-standing relationship with the Springboks and SARU [South African Rugby Union] provided us with the insights to build this truly world-class platform,” says Rodney Barrett, co-founder of Mobii Systems.

Taljaard sees Blue Label's well-established relationship with Mobii through MyRun as a catalyst for bringing Mobii’s technology to other companies in the group.

“We want to give other companies in the Blue Label group the opportunity to leverage Mobii’s technology, particularly Ticketpro, which is the official ticketing partner of a number of sporting bodies,” he says.

Blue Label believes the key advantage of Mobii’s integrated technology is that it offers clients and stakeholders rich insights into data that is usually trapped in silos.

It points out that the developers understand how to leverage the power of sports data and digital content and produce insights that are relevant to managers, coaches, players and their parent organisations.

Geo-location service

Mobii recently launched “Time of Flight”, a geo-location service that tracks players in action on the sports field, assisting them and their coaching staff with positioning in real-time and in-play.

Blue Label says the Time of Flight system is far more accurate than global positioning systems because it functions within a small, focused arena, rather than via satellite communications.

“Combining Time of Flight with our video federation and transcoding offering is what sets our Stratus analytics solution apart from other vendors. Contextual relevance is what stakeholders are looking for. Where clients had to engage with four to five vendors to extract the insights they required in the past, they now have a comprehensive offering without having to deal with complex integration and legacy issues,” says Mobii co-founder Roderick Barrett.

Mobii was founded by brothers Roderick and Brendan Barrett with the desire to make sports-analysis a true science and take the emotion out of decisions.

“Blue Label Ventures’ investment will enable us to take our performance enhancement technology to a much broader market, to open doors, and to engage with much bigger players around the world. Mobii’s latest timing technology is now operational in France, Switzerland, Australia and the United Kingdom, to name a few countries, but we still have a path to travel before we can call ourselves a truly global company,” says Roderick Barrett.

He believes the investment is particularly attractive because, in addition to smart funding, Blue Label Ventures is also giving Mobii access to the entire Blue Label ecosystem of companies within the Blue Label Telecoms group.

Mobii CEO Richard Hartley says Mobii’s timing and sports analysis technology will be integrated into other new applications in the future.

“What’s crucial now is being able to access more resources to accelerate the commercialisation of our technology and introduce it to a global audience.”

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