It’s pretty simple; doing well in sports consists of physical skills as well as preparedness. The physical part comes from putting your hours of practice in the gym and field, and the preparation comes from studying the film of your team, its players, and your opponents. The unfortunate part is that players across the spectrum do not have the means to place enough emphasis on the the video componenet. Enter Krossover – an athletete’s new best friend. The sports analytics video platform, that covers four different sports, is ready to give your team the advantage it needs to get to the next level. With the platform being already being utilized by teams such as the Cleveland Cavaliers, Syracuse University and Kentucky University, it’s no wonder all three of these teams have seen recent success.
Today we chat with Founder and CEO Vasu Kulkarni about the company’s latest round and how they are changing organized sports for all ages and sports via the use of technology, video, analytics, and data.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
We raised a $20 million Series B round from investors Dan Gilbert, Cleveland Cavaliers owner and Quicken Loans Inc. founder, David Robinson and Admiral Capital Group, Stephen Ross and RSE Ventures, Jeff Keswin and Lyrical Partners.
Tell us about your product or service.
Krossover is in the business of helping teams win more games. We do this through an online platform that breaks down and analyzes game film for high school, college, and professional teams. Currently, Krossover provides a breakdown service for football, volleyball, basketball, and lacrosse teams.
Coaches upload their game film to Krossover and within 12-24 hours, the video is completely broken down with statistics, tendencies, and analytics for the entire team. Each event appears as its own video clip, tagged with play and player information that allows coaches and players to search and sort the footage. Krossover evaluates specific performance factors that range from basic box score information to advanced analytics that measure offensive and defensive efficiencies.
We also just launched a free product called Film Room, that lets any team store, share, and edit their game film for free.
What inspired you to start the company?
While I was playing for the University of Pennsylvania JV basketball team, I noticed how inefficient the coaching staff was when it came to breaking down and analyzing game film. They spent hours clipping film, tracking stats, and taking notes. I couldn’t find a software that could do this work for the coaches, so I decided to create one myself.
How is it different?
Krossover provides teams with sophisticated data analytics through a simple platform. It enables coaches and players to study game film to improve athletic programs. Our platform is simple to use, comprehensive, and inexpensive. There are other companies in the marketplace, but most of them require a coach to spend hours of time cutting up the film.
What market are you targeting and how big is it?
Krossover is involved with high school, college, and professional sports teams, and eventually we’ll be working with some individual sports as well. In all, we estimate approximately 400,000 teams in the domestic market alone that are potential customers.
What’s your business model?
Teams pay us an annual subscription to the service that ranges anywhere from $800 to $2,500 per team. Many teams also purchase additional packages to allow them to upload scouting games of their opponents so that they can receive a scouting report before they play their next game.
We recently added a free service that allows teams to store, exchange, and customize their film to open up the platform to all sports.
What sport benefits the most from the Krossover platform?
All of them! We measure sport-specific data and analytics to guarantee valuable information for every team.
What was the funding process like?
Fundraising is never easy. We’ve probably been turned down by hundreds of investors since we started, but the good news is, it only takes one to say yes. Dan Gilbert was one of the first investors to believe in us, back when we were 15 people with a few hundred customers. Things were marginally easier this time around since we are closing in on 10,000 customers. Still, getting a round closed is a time-consuming process, and the deal is never done until the funds have been wired. A lot of things can go wrong in the 11th hour.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
With each round that goes by, you’re looking for a bigger and bigger check, at a higher and higher valuation, and so the number of people who can participate at those levels gets smaller and smaller. Many investors tell me they wish we were a few years behind, so that they could write a check now, but of course hindsight is 20-20.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
We’re actually generating revenue, which is always a good thing. But more than that, I think there is just such a massive untapped opportunity in youth sports, and investors see that Krossover is building a great brand that is becoming very well known in this market. Hopefully, we will be able to leverage that brand to go beyond just the software that we have now, and into different types of businesses.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
Getting more teams into the Krossover environment with the addition of our free Film Room product. Launching more in-depth shot charts for our basketball customers. Exploring ways to monetize our enormous library of amateur sports film by offering premium highlights and syndication with local media outlets. We’re also starting to work on a breakdown service for a fifth sport.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
NYC is a tough place to be without capital. I love NYC and think it’s the greatest city in the world, but it isn’t a conducive place to bootstrap a business. I also believe that the amount of capital you need to get to a certain milestone while being based in NYC or SF, is probably about 3x the amount you need elsewhere in the country. So my best advice quite honestly is to be careful about why you are building your business here. Are you in ad-tech or fin-tech? Great – being in NYC is really advantageous. If you aren’t in one of those industries, then maybe you want to think about bootstrapping your business while being based in Jersey or somewhere else, and then make the move to NYC once you have raised some capital and need premier talent. Being at the center of the universe comes with a hefty price tag.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
Expanding into new sports and developing our media business. We want Krossover to become the go-to resource for coaches and the primary destination for amateur sports media.
What’s your favorite rooftop bar in NYC to unwind?
Eataly is right down the block from our office. The team likes to head up there for a few once it starts warming up. However, we spent most of our time right downstairs at Barcade this winter.