Wearable tech start-up PlayerData wins funds from high-profile backers

From left, international archery athlete Fiona Inglis in PlayerData Edge gear, with Mike Welch, Roy Hotrabhvanon and Hayden Ball. ''Photograph: Stewart Attwood
From left, international archery athlete Fiona Inglis in PlayerData Edge gear, with Mike Welch, Roy Hotrabhvanon and Hayden Ball. ''Photograph: Stewart Attwood
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A start-up aiming to become a key player in the global sports wearable market has secured an early stage investment round from a number of high-profile backers including former Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy.

PlayerData, co-founded in 2015 by former University of Edinburgh computer science graduates Roy Hotrabhvanon and Hayden Ball, has also caught the eye of Blackcircles.com founder Mike Welch, who has been appointed as the venture’s chairman, and Quest Corporate’s Marcus Noble.

The firm’s first product – PlayerData Edge – is in its late development stage and combines a base layer garment with sensors and a removable control module. It is said to be aimed at “multi-sport professional and amateur athletes”.

The system provides data on biometrics, performance and technique for individuals and teams and the seed funding round will allow the fledgling business to expand development to a market-ready product by the end of 2018. High-value sports including running, football and golf are being targeted.

The PlayerData team is aiming for the company’s first product to be sold through multi-channels in business-to-business followed by business-to-consumer. The firm is eyeing a longer term strategy which could see products developed for the gaming and healthcare sectors.

Chief executive Hotrabhvanon, a former international archer who has represented Thailand, said: “Edge is aimed at the ‘prosumer’ athlete market, casual to pro athletes who want a one-stop shop for their biometric and training data. With over six biometric performance indicators, we’re already ahead of all competitors in the market. Using the latest advances in artificial intelligence we are developing algorithms to give coaches actionable insight to athlete performances. As a team, we’re excited that our global ambitions are being matched by such a dedicated and high-profile group of investors and it’s great to have Mike Welch on board as chairman.”

Welch said: “Roy and Hayden are inspiring founders with an incredible product that has a real chance to make a significant move into one of the fastest growing tech markets on the planet.”

The firm received early stage support from the Royal Society of Edinburgh and Edinburgh Innovation, the innovation management unit of the University of Edinburgh.