€2m injection for Leinster Rugby-linked start-up

beggers August 10, 2014 0
€2m injection for Leinster Rugby-linked start-up
An Irish-American venture capitalist who was the first backer of Paypal has invested just over €2m in Kitman Labs, a sports science software start-up that is working with the Irish and provincial rugby teams.

John Malloy’s Silicon Valley-based Blue Run Ventures has signed up to provide funding to the Dublin-headquartered company, which was founded by software developer Iarfhlaith Kelly, Leinster Rugby’s former injury rehabilitation coach Stephen Smith and Jason Cowman, the head strength and conditioning coach for the Irish team.

Previous backers of Kitman include Enterprise Ireland and a number of angel investors who provided €525,000 in seed funding, including Irish team captain Jamie Heaslip and Leinster’s Kevin McLaughlin.

Founded in November 2012, the company currently employs 10 people and has two products. The main one is an injury profiler that helps analyse and highlight when players are at risk of injury, while improving their overall performance.

Its experience with Leinster Rugby suggests that using this can help to reduce a team’s rate of injuries by about one-third. The average injury profile is about 20pc, but last year at Leinster it was only 13pc. The company also has a video profiler that helps sports players and coaches analyse both their own and their rivals’ performance.

Although Kitman have just begun to work with an English premier league rugby team, the majority of the new funding will underpin an expansion into the US, where the plan is to begin working with baseball and major league soccer teams.

Smith and Kelly will also be relocating to Palo Alto in Silicon Valley, where they plan to hire up to nine staff for sales, finance, marketing, customer support and sports scientist roles. They will also add to the Dublin engineering team.

Malloy, a former rugby player and keen fan of the sport has a history of backing winners and is believed to have made handsome returns on previous investments.

Last year Google bought Israeli navigation and traffic jam alert firm Waze for $1.1bn, a deal which may have produced a 19-fold return for Malloy’s Blue Run, which has a 15pc stake in the company, according to one report by Bloomberg.

Last December Apple is believed to have paid over $225m for Topsy, a Twitter search and analytics firm that contains an index of tweets dating back to 2006, which was also backed by Malloy.

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