Northern Ireland sports tech brand scores with football star investors
STATSports latest all-star transaction involving two Premier League footballers among other investors is an endorsement of its future plans, it's been claimed
The Newry firm, which is reportedly worth £200m, has shaken hands with some of the world's most successful sporting teams - from Brazil to US soccer teams.
Chief global strategist Jarlath Quinn said the investments by Raheem Sterling and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were a landmark moment.
"The company has been profitable year on year without taking any investment since inception in 2009," he said.
"What is even more remarkable is for a technology company to achieve global market leader status whilst being bootstrapped. So, without doubt this is a landmark moment for STATSports.
"The fact that our first set of investors includes top players such as Alex and Raheem, who know better than anyone the importance of our technology, is a ringing endorsement of our plans to cement our position in the B2B market whilst growing the huge B2C opportunity."
STATSports' devices, such as the APEX Team Series system, are described by the company as unique in their field. It says "there is no other wearable device on the market that can produce multiple on-field key performance metrics in real-time while utilising the level of accuracy relied upon by the world's largest and most successful sports organisations".
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Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph last year, Alan Clarke, one of two of the founders of the company, said he would invest almost £6m in research and development to ensure the company's products maintain that position in the market. He was speaking after STATSports announced the creation of 237 new roles.
"We will build our products, enhance and improve them, possibly add ancillary products. The R&D funding will also allow us to branch into different consumer areas like running, recreation and cycling," he said.
Entering the world of consumers will see the company take on multi-billion pound tech giants like Apple, Fitbit and Garmin who have each taken a slice of a reportedly $25bn (£19.25bn) wearable device market.
However, Manchester City player Sterling believes STATSports can firmly challenge its better known consumer counterparts.
"STATSports has already made a big name for itself in the elite game but it's clear to me that there is huge potential for the technology and that is why I've invested," he said.
"Along with my advisers we were impressed with STATSports' upcoming plans and I was delighted to have the opportunity to invest. I see no reason that STATSports cannot be the next billion dollar-plus wearable company."
Liverpool FC's Oxlade-Chamberlain, who has worn STATSports devices for over 10 years, said he is looking forward to being involved in "strategic decisions that will impact anything from product development to marketing".
"Knowing the guys at STATSports, I am super-excited for where this will go. I am delighted to have the opportunity to invest at this early stage of what I believe will be the Instagram or WhatsApp of wearables," he said.
The footballers are not the first professional athletes to make tech investments for their futures. NBA superstar LeBron James reportedly made $30m (£23.1m) for his share when Beats by Dr Dre headphones was sold to Apple in 2014 for $3bn (£2.3bn).
Tom Brady of the New England Patriots secured $3m (£2.3m) in venture backing in 2018 for the digital media company he co-founded.