Podcast Transcript – Series THREE, Episode 50
francisco baptista, teamsportz June 2022
[00:00:00] Francisco Baptista: Opportunity and equality. That may be something that just doesn’t exist. You can always look at certain members that some of it exists, but in the greater scheme of things. And if you think female black and from part of any other minority, Suddenly, your numbers become 0.01%. Our numbers never showed that even that 1% check who’s now, 50% smaller than [00:00:30] the alternative counterpart.
[00:00:31] So the reality, you know, if you knew that opportunity/equality and actually the check sizes, then you realize that you actually part of a fairly, very minuscule minority. I said once in my tweets, that of course I know I’m black. But I’ve been acutely aware that I’m black since I started TeamSportz and that was not by, by accident. Literally everything else sort of reminds you, what you’re against… [00:01:00]
[00:01:00] Dan: What’s up Unfound Nation, Dan Kihanya here. Thanks so much for checking out. Another episode of Founders Unfound. That was Francisco Baptista, founder and CEO of TeamSportz, a company building an AI sports platform to help team athletes enhance their performance.
[00:01:16] Francisco was born in Angola. Growing up during a period of civil war in that country. He used basketballs and escape from this harsh environment, first by watching his mother play, and then finding sanctuary on the courts himself. Francisco moved to Brazil for his [00:01:30] teenage years then onto Portugal. And now finally he’s in the UK, all the while pursuing his dual passions of hoops and software development.
[00:01:37] It’s the meeting of these two loves were TeamSportz with a Zed, as they say, was born. The company now posts notable investors, including Mark Gainey Co-Founder of Strava.
[00:01:47] Francisco has a great story, you’ll want to listen in.
[00:01:51] Our episode is sponsored by Founders Live, a global platform, built to inspire, educate and entertain the modern entrepreneur. Founders Live continues [00:02:00] its traditional events that center on five startups giving 99 second pitches. And there are now events monthly, somewhere in the 90+ cities that are part of the Founders Live global network. To find out more about Founders Live or when the next event is happening near you, be sure to visit founderslive.com, or check for a link in the show notes.
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[00:02:36] Now on with the episode. Stay safe and hope you enjoy.
[00:02:53] Hello and welcome to Founders Unfound, spotlighting, the best startups you don’t know yet. We bring you stories of exceptional [00:03:00] founders from underrepresented and underestimated backgrounds. This is the latest episode in our continuing series and founders of African descent. I’m your host, Dan Kihanya, let’s get on it.
[00:03:10] Today, we have Francisco Baptista founder and CEO of TeamSportz, a company building an AI sports platform to help athletes enhance their performance. Welcome to the show Francisco. We’re super excited to have you on. Thanks for making the time.
[00:03:27] Awesome. So to set everything up [00:03:30] for our audience and to get us started, please help the listeners understand exactly what TeamSportz is.
[00:03:36] Francisco Baptista: Sure. TeamSportz is an AI platform. Sort of what we do is we translate human movement into performance statistics, occupational intelligence. We’re doing an edge, which means you only need your mobile and the camera on the phone, or you think to yourself, but will you also do it in a context of a team sport?
[00:03:56] So if any of the leases that thinking my Fitbit [00:04:00] already does that, yes, that’s fantastic for an individual basis. But what we doing, we created a solution that translates sports performance using AI on the context of a team. So if you play basketball, football, or rugby or lacrosse, I know Dan, you want a big fan TeamSportz is for you.
[00:04:18] Dan: I love it. And as a former wannabe athlete and a father of athletes, that feedback loop of understanding where you are in the journey can be so, so powerful. But before [00:04:30] we get more into TeamSportz, we want to hear more about you and your journey and where are you from where you grew up. I know that you’ve had a really interesting global upbringing, so to speak, but where are you from originally?
[00:04:43] Francisco Baptista: Sure. It’s a long story. I’m originally I was born in Angola and Gola is an African country, former Portuguese colony. I’m actually sort of the first generation to boarding a Gola immediately after the independence. So my parents were born in the Portuguese territory. I was [00:05:00] born in Angola has an independent. And had the opportunity to travel the world. But the exciting thing is sort of upbringing is the story and a podcast in itself, because it’s very different than today’s reality. And for most people outside.
[00:05:15] Dan: Well, give us some insights. I mean, you were born there and how long did you live there? When did, when did you leave?
[00:05:19] Francisco Baptista: So I left Angola when I was 12 years old. I went to live in Brazil with my dad.
[00:05:27] So I actually grew up throughout [00:05:30] a bloody civil war, which yeah, it wasn’t fun. And he’s a reality that most are normally accustomed to, and he’s very private and very difficult. I can only imagine, obviously, yeah. Hi, I’ve got three kids now. Living in the UK and often think about three kids. So challenging and neck.
[00:05:49] And I imagine what it was for my parents to have three kids in the middle of the civil war. So that’d reality would stop stuff for, for, for them, of course, and more stuff for us. Luckily, I have [00:06:00] learned to play basketball because my mom used to play basketball. And so basketball kept me sort of awakening.
[00:06:06] All my life troubles with trouble that could get into I didn’t because I was erased keen to stay a little longer in a basketball court or run away from school and play a little longer instead of going back into class. So a blessing and a curse.
[00:06:22] Dan: I can totally see how that would be a great place to escape. I mean, for most people, especially younger kids finding that place where you [00:06:30] can block out the world, right? Like, it’s like just, I’m going to play the game. I’m going to be, you know, either one-on-one or with my teams or I’m working on my skills, the men, my dad went through the similar thing cause he’s from Kenya and he grew up during that independence. But I’m just curious. Maybe you can help us think about like 12 is old enough that you probably remember.
[00:06:49] Do you remember that time as sort of like war is just, that’s just what daily life is or was it sort of, this is a different way of life and it’s going to end at some [00:07:00] point, but it’s just going to be hard. Or did you just come to accept it as like, this is just the way life is right now.
[00:07:06] Francisco Baptista: So as far back as I remember, so also remember growing up in the civil war, you sort of grow much faster than my kids.
[00:07:14] So my earliest memories of war are sort of, you know, seven and eight year old. And at that point you’re not really questioning that in reality, compared to any other reality, you just know that the reality and the fee is that our brains, et cetera, et cetera, and the struggle that you [00:07:30] bring. But we drove is old.
[00:07:32] I knew exactly that was a different reality, then all this, because luckily my dad was a university professor and he prioritize education over absolutely anything. So learn, learn, and learn. And there was never a taboo or anything that we can discuss. So we grew up fast enough, but we also grew up understanding the policies and the politics and sort of the politics behind the war.
[00:07:58] But having grown up, [00:08:00] everyone been brought up by a family that was born in sort of Portuguese territory. A lot of my family sort of migrated to Portugal and we had the opportunity to travel to Portugal early ages. And so we had a way to compare those realities. My cousin is living in Portugal. They had no idea what was like the, like us growing up in the countryside.
[00:08:22] You know, doing a civil war, but that also creates a sort of a point of reference. But most importantly, was that sort of the [00:08:30] educational, the education piece that might, that sort of made sure that we were always interested in learning and learning and learning and learning sort of helped us understand early enough sort of what was happening in.
[00:08:44] Why was that? But even now how to behave outside because during the civil war that is, you know, effectively two parties, you know, who are opposing and Golan parties. So the. Fighting for a rich territory, oil, diamonds, and [00:09:00] resources and power. And, uh, you know, at school, you w you a brainwashed, no mention different than the Cubans or the Soviets were sort of that sort of brainwash talked too much Addie at school.
[00:09:10] And we could balance that out because you know, my, that. You know, what was happening. We knew exactly sort of the eras that came in our childhood books sort of fighting against the enemy. The enemy was just another Angolan, you know, less deprived access to less power, but nonetheless, [00:09:30] and then Golan. And I remember very well from very early days.
[00:09:35] Understanding sort of that side, there was actually, there wasn’t any enemy. There was sort of these obscure entity and the heroes. They sort of portrayed in sort of our educational books at school, but just brainwashing kids to sort of grow out in one side or the others. So for that 10 really grateful to my father was keen to make sure that we understood exactly what was [00:10:00] happening.
[00:10:00] And so we knew off the balance that they act and most that will be part two political discourse is outside in anything like that. Instead of like, this is not those for us, let’s go home and stay away. Or in my case, let’s play basketball.
[00:10:13] Dan: That’s fascinating. Yeah. Thanks for sharing that. So you go to Brazil. So Brazil is this place that has, you know, large collection of rich cultures and, you know, integrating populations.
[00:10:24] And there was probably this connection around language and the Portuguese aspect. But do you [00:10:30] remember feeling like different in terms of like who you were and how you fit when you were in Brazil?
[00:10:35] Francisco Baptista: I felt for the first time I was a teenager. So the first time sort of that time, we need to discover yourself. Brazil was an amazing experience for me because I couldn’t really fit within Brazilians. And they didn’t know where I fit within service and social constraints. They currently have around race and background, et cetera, because I was a foreign enough or. My Portuguese sounded more to them like a [00:11:00] Portuguese from Portugal than Portuguese from Angola. So that’s sort of that subconscious association with Europe, which sort of places sort of Figaro of like class ciphers, et cetera. And I wasn’t presented. So it wasn’t amazing place the, in Brazil, I mean the culture, the language that people, you know, all that is on itself, just amazing to watch, but I was immersion. I had the privilege to almost be an outsider. [00:11:30] And I could sort of be part of any of those social groups, whether at school or outside school. So I had an amazing experience in Brazil.
[00:11:38] Dan: That’s really fascinating. And I think a lot of folks given that crossroads, right, where you’re, it’s like I don’t necessarily fit in one place. So one way to go is, well, I’m just going to try to try to wedge myself into one place as much as I can. And then another approach is what you talked about, which is, well, this is maybe a blessing in disguise. I can maneuver and go to different groups and integrate [00:12:00] myself a different way. So when you went to Brazil, was basketball still part of your life?
[00:12:05] Francisco Baptista: Oh, I haven’t got an interesting story to tell. So, so my dad was in Brazil because he was doing his PhD and my daddy’s golf as I am. So he was, you know, studying and doing a PhD in disease and veterinarian disease, et cetera. And so I manage, although in secondary school I managed to enroll using east name at university basketball.
[00:12:29] [00:12:30] So I guess yes, very much so. Yeah. So I used to play as my, that as a sort of a university student per se, uh, on his behalf because we had this fantastic, you know, being that young and playing at that level, it was definitely good for me in my basketball skills.
[00:12:47] Dan: Oh, my gosh. Now talk about going to the extremes where you were ever discovered or rooted out is the, not the academic version of Francisco Baptista?
[00:12:58] Francisco Baptista: I think there were times where we played [00:13:00] and people are like either he’s much older than he looks or he’s any pasta, but no, my teammates knew that I was enrolled as my dad, obviously. That was part of that, the fun and the joke. And then. But yeah, no, I was never discovered in the sense that’s like, Nope, you’re not the person that you’re saying you claim to be coaching you. And my team plays me when everyone else was like bringing a child to this university team?
[00:13:29] Dan: [00:13:30] These days, in the United States, it would be like this big scandal and all that, but that’s a great story. So tell us how to tech into your life. Like, was it something that you were drawn to early? How did you discover your interest in it.
[00:13:44] Francisco Baptista: Yeah. So very early, actually my, that once doing his master’s degree, he’s back in Angola was probably 10, 11. My dad bought some programming books, um, Pascal books, because he wanted to write some algorithms to help them analyze some data [00:14:00] around his master’s degree. And my brother and I consumed that book and we had an old Schneider, which is a German computer, some monochromatic computer, and yeah, so my brother.
[00:14:12] Use that computer to play game and use all the hacks that we can try to speed up the game and the processor. And that’s where computing came into my life. I remember in Brazil when I was in secondary school again yet, another great story. I think back then, techno schools in Brazil didn’t have [00:14:30] computer as a class.
[00:14:30] So when they did, they used to hire sort of a third party provider to sort of teach, you know, word Excel, PowerPoint in school with a small fee for the students to sort of take part in that. And, uh, at some point the teacher left quit his job, et cetera. So that possible sort of shutdown because no one could teach in the headmaster knew that I was always in that class.
[00:14:53] And I said, look, I can teach these to everyone else. And the headmaster actually allowed me to do it. So during the morning and part [00:15:00] of afternoon, it was a student in the part of the afternoon and evening, I was actually teaching in my own school. So computing class and that’s what a programming. Surface.
[00:15:09] I created a small software to help my colleagues slash students to type fast enough with them. We both will count how many, how many keystrokes can do per second, et cetera. Yeah. So I always had that passion, both for programming and basketball.
[00:15:24] Dan: I’m hearing two interesting themes there. One is the competitiveness. So like you’re playing a [00:15:30] game on the computer and you’re like, Hmm, how can I get an advantage on this? And then this idea, like you mentioned of your call, it like accelerated maturity growing up then. Cool. In your basketball, you’re playing with people who are quote unquote older than you, and you’re in this place where you are teaching your colleagues or fellow students. And so it’s fascinating that developmental time. When you were young, probably gave you, despite the challenge of it, it [00:16:00] gave you this confidence and this ability to say, yeah, if I can make it through that, whether it’s subconscious or not, right. Like, Hey, I can do this and I can move forward. I can be at that next level, which is just fascinating.
[00:16:10] Francisco Baptista: Yeah, no, absolutely. Right. I think that is sort of some of those elements we can draw back sort of my operating in sort of the nature and nurture. Another aspect that I think helped me be what I am today is that traveling and meeting people with so many cultures after Brazil, I moved to Portugal. And then UK is that you said that ability to [00:16:30] sort of adapt and be comfortable with, with differences and people difference where that cultural difference I moved to UK, I can speak English.
[00:16:37] So whether it’s language difference and it gives you that ability to give it to say, actually, you know, I can mold. It’s enabled me to progress regardless of the environment. And I think moving to Brazil, particularly moving from Angola, Brazil was a bit of a shock, much to be good country. I was a teenager trying to discover myself in a very multicultural place compared to back in the rollout.
[00:16:59] We, I [00:17:00] mixed my stumbling, but it was not anywhere near as multicultural as Brazil, Brazil, east, you know, and that definitely gave me yet another scale to build TeamSportz for example.
[00:17:10] Dan: I love that. And I’m fascinated that you moved to the UK without speaking English. So you couldn’t speak any English at that time?
[00:17:18] Francisco Baptista: Very basic. I think I thought I knew what to speak English because of the listen to Snoop doggy dog songs, and often sort of the basketball coaches of an American culture until [00:17:30] they moved to UK. And you’ll realize, actually, this is not the same. And you turn on the TV. What are they saying? So I could be connected the very basic sentences, but if I turn on the TV or radio, I can follow through what was going on.
[00:17:44] Dan: Totally impressive. Amazing story. But we’re going to take a short break and we’ll be right back with Francisco Baptista from TeamSportz.
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[00:19:07] Dan: So we’re back with Francisco, from TeamSportz. So Francisco, tell us about where does the idea of TeamSportz come from? What was sort of that spark that said, this is a business with, this is an idea that something we could build.
[00:19:23] Francisco Baptista: Sure. So obviously stems from my skills, my professional skills as a software engineer, but also my passion for basketball. So I always play [00:19:30] basketball as you had before. And in the last feely is I guess, things are started by realizing that even as a basketball team at Plains, originally, you know, we were interested in. Uh, sort of physical performance. However, we could only collect our physical performance individually. So someone had to Strava in a field teammates out in the, my stuff, a feed, someone has a Fitbit and someone has whatever, all the [00:20:00] wearables and someone else has a gym.
[00:20:02] Someone else goes for a run, et cetera, et cetera. And I couldn’t really understand why do we have something that brings all of that together for us? When is the team performance. And then once you sort of ask yourself that you’ll realize that, you know, actually there are solutions out there for teams, but they’ve been designed for the very professional teams.
[00:20:22] And so the reaches center, very few sports played in a wall. And so I thought this doesn’t make sense. I need to change. [00:20:30] And so I actually started some sports by creating a wearable ultra wide band wearables. So initially I thought the best way to track people, playing sports in these games, my basketball team in UK is not study as you can imagine all the time.
[00:20:44] So we play. Without GPS instead of 4g, et cetera. So I use and that work was a great prototype. We could measure players a hundred times better than the GPS, but to turn that into a scalable solution, you know, the thesis wasn’t that. And so we [00:21:00] pivoted into, into computer vision, but the roots of the idea really was I play basketball in it.
[00:21:06] There’s a team that he’s ever increased appetite for performance data, many, many ways people can collect the performance. But nothing was bringing together for us as a team, but most importantly, affordably. So the pricing point needed to be right, because we know, we know the premier league, we know the MBAs, you know, the NFL.
[00:21:25] And in fact, the vast majority of sports played in the world today, [00:21:30] don’t have that set of resources and that sort of money instead of your, local lacrosse team. I know Oz and local basketball teams know the local football teams, or even, you know, your sort of college team. You also primary school team, the second out of school teams, what is the platform to help them as a sports team at a young age, to help them sort of bring the sports technology that helps them.
[00:21:54] And they coach a sort of understand how they can improve. So that’s, maybe some of them want to become [00:22:00] professionals in the gap between that. As an amateur in the professionals, when it comes to sports, technology will be much, much shorter. And so this is what sort of the idea stems from the able to create a platform that was available to any sports, enable us to track our performance as a team, improved our game, you know, help us stay organized, help us stay fi understand what happened during the game.
[00:22:21] Instead of create this sort of true feedback loop because our AI enables sort of that comfortability piece. So if your coach says, you know, Hey [00:22:30] dad, you need to do 10 pushups and you only do two pushups. There’s no way you can fight the other eight pushups. Right. So it is like, you’ve done what you’ve done, but there is accountability, but I like to put it as sort of is a meaningful conversation.
[00:22:44] Now your coach really knows. There is no point to say to them to do tattoo shops because he can only do two. So let’s have a meaningful conversation about how can we improve from two to three east of set of set up. I set down to two 10 for shops. I hope he’s the data that he didn’t [00:23:00] do. I don’t have a way to track.
[00:23:01] And so, you know, he would go in circles without truly sort of having those meaningful conversations. And that’s what TeamSportz is. And that’s what it stems from.
[00:23:09] Dan: It makes a lot of sense and I totally get that evolution. Take me back to that time though, when you did the experiment with your team. So obviously it had some impact and it worked enough for you to say, Hmm, there’s something here. Do you remember the decision point in your mind where you said, wow, there’s a business here. There’s a company that I could build. And like, [00:23:30] how did that decision come to be? Was it really from that experiment? Or did you have to go and talk to people or what was that sort of switch where you said, okay, I’m going to go build a company to do this.
[00:23:40] Francisco Baptista: I think some of the mysticism about businesses that actually that is in the switch that he’s processed in that process. It’s only true. If you sort of find ways to, instead of you validate your thinking, whether you through your team, whether it’s through understanding the market, whether it’s through asking, you [00:24:00] know, what people are thinking.
[00:24:01] And so to me was I was certain that I wanted to build something that I could clearly see. It didn’t exist in the market. I thought. What’s the solution. And if I thought this was just a switch on and off, I would have continued to pursue the hardware solution today and probably be less successful than we are now.
[00:24:20] At least I know I would be, you know, less off money-wise because Ottawa development costs a lot of money. So the process really is continuous and sort of questioning [00:24:30] yourself, question the business model questions that have. You know, instead of, if you can’t find enough assets to justify your direction, you probably go in the wrong direction.
[00:24:41] And so the only thing that I did, and I think that the way to look at it is the me was, there is no reason why a grassroots majora semipro team does not have access to sports technology as a profession. That is not really a lot of, other than sort of the science from a [00:25:00] technology standpoint, they not really doing sort of anything that is rocket science and technology is available to everyone.
[00:25:07] And I have got the technical skills. So for me, it was actually what I want is to provide sports teams with sports technology, affordable sports technology to help them improve. So in this. Hardware was just one way to get that process either continuing to validate and question yourself, is this right? Is this going to work?
[00:25:28] How does these scale, how does [00:25:30] this work? Will I be able to raise any investment? Can I rally the team to sort of buy into the vision? That vision is a hardware, et cetera. And then you see you get more nos than yes. You sort of need to serve, adapt and try to find more yeses than nos. There will always be nose.
[00:25:45] The nose is always that struggle for a startup that always plenty of nose, but will be sort of more yeses around your gut feeling and the things that actually make sense for you to do the next step. Even if that step is sort of a small. You know, you know, [00:26:00] we enough, he asked us to get you to that step.
[00:26:01] And if you carry on doing this, you sort of keep progressing instead of these wobbly sort of journey. But at any point you can look back and you will know that you further from where you started. So I don’t think there was really a switch that is sort of a cost validation on the model, on the solution, on the applicability on am I solving the problem?
[00:26:21] Dan: So tell us about what’s the business model and you talked about many different types of teams or stages of teams. Are there any [00:26:30] particular customer profiles that are sort of your sweet spot now, or that you started with as well?
[00:26:36] Francisco Baptista: I think TeamSportz does not make sense, if you sort of play your set of recreational sort of lacrosse on Sunday with something that is not for you. At that stage, any data point will be just enough because really it’s a complimentary the biggest value that you draw from that is mostly your social sort of aspects of playing that sports we’re friends, [00:27:00] TeamSportz switch spot is sort of the deep to give ones. College leaks instead of that wet sports and competition at
[00:27:11] And at that point, any time games on sort of enabling sort of the team, but also any data points or any metrics that, you know, help you get sort of an edge comparative to other two. And that’s all. Um, having said that [00:27:30] we have got professional teams using TeamSportz, but those are professional teams like rugby teams, which don’t have the sort of resources then the NBA, the NFL primarily have.
[00:27:40] So for that, math is a professional lacrosse team potentially could use some sports because that would be the right pressing point. So it sort of day affordability. Any other tools that provide sort of the same sort of solution. They are probably just looking at the process of the world. And often they say request [00:28:00] a demo and we got an open platform.
[00:28:02] A model is very stable. Now it’s a full dollars pat play at her month or on a season. The subscription is only a things all this, the planet per month. And you’ve got a way to stay organized. All the AI to help you and your teammates to stay fit. Most importantly, that they can share with your coach and your coach can embrace your training in the in-game game analysis.
[00:28:26] So at the end of the games, if you guys upload your games, you can [00:28:30] create highlights. You coach. We’ve got some cool tools that the coach can draw up on the video instead of indicate why the set play broke the part or what’s, the play was amazing. And the coach can share back with the players. You can go time’s up.
[00:28:43] But learn visually sort of what happened during the game. And we’ve got all the tools that the coach can send that video again, into more stats, which sort of form the in-game statistics and all of that is available for the same price point of $2 per month. So guys, simple [00:29:00] pricing points, no hidden fees, you know, what do you see? What you get? You get access to the full product. Bring 10 players, 20 players, nothing forbidden.
[00:29:09] Dan: And so I’m curious about the input mechanisms and how does the platform take in the data or like you mentioned hardware in the past, right. There’s something that you looked at, do you integrate with other hardware or do you rely on self reporting?
[00:29:25] How does the input side of it work?
[00:29:27] Francisco Baptista: So our own input side is [00:29:30] through the AI.
[00:29:33] So you point the camera with a foreign to yourself, do some exercises in that. So remember reps, number of sessions, the duration with this type of exercise fastest rep, slowest rep, et cetera, et cetera. So that is all primary on proprietary. It was data into the. Having said that we are also integrating with Strava because we know that the benefits of sort of going for a run, you might not want to do [00:30:00] some pushups, but you might want to go for a run, but the GPS tracking, bringing that into the platform.
[00:30:05] So that gives you the heart pace. And in your distance, when I mean gives, gives it to you, give us your teammates because on the app you work together, you can see what one another is. The most important expose that data to the coaches, but we are also now integrating with setbacks. Setbacks is a hardware provider based in Colorado in the west, and they effectively have got specialized equipment to measure football players, [00:30:30] income performance.
[00:30:30] So how fast can you run 110 yards or 20 yards or 40 yards? How fast can you do it? Three points, cone, drill it. And all of that data now is coming into the platform effectively in reaching sort of the player profile, but also giving the coaches more data points to make informed decisions around the player.
[00:30:50] So that is the sky sort of the limit in sort of where we can potentially bring data points of the platform for us. The mission needs to be [00:31:00] still are those data points contributing to the team, improve that before. And they understanding of the games and to get better. If he has a, he asked us he aligned with our mission.
[00:31:10] That’s perfect alignment, obviousness. If he on Sundays, no. Instead of Atlantic in metrics, let’s say calories, how many calories you burn your feet? I don’t think that will help you. We a lacrosse game, how many calories is during the week or how many steps you’ve done, any physical activity, physical activity.[00:31:30]
[00:31:30] And there’s obviously the aspect of physical activity for individuals that might not be able to run, which is fair. But for us, it needs to make sense these helping the player, team, and the coach.
[00:31:42] Dan: It sounds amazing and you’re totally right. I think there’s a great opportunity right. Of that balance between progress and perfection and what’s that there’s some term in physics, right? Like if you over measure something, then that act of measuring actually [00:32:00] distorts the thing you measure me.
[00:32:01] Francisco Baptista: Yeah. I guess as over-engineering for us. So we don’t want to open a genius solution that sort of, you know, Google’s data from all sorts of places. The reality, we would have more data points than we could potentially analyze, but let’s assume that we could analyze all those data points and make sense out of those actually that might not make any sense for you to eat lacrosse games.
[00:32:21] So, you know, and let’s say we have debates feet, you know, definitely integrate to the Fitbit. How many. Teams [00:32:30] use Fitbit by default on sort of any extra activity. And so, and that might not make sense. It’s two people in a team I’ve got a fit date doesn’t have, then that doesn’t really make sense. Who’s going to Fitbit.
[00:32:42] So we need to make sense for our vision and to have those data points. Otherwise, you know, it becomes a bit of a vanity, right? So you make a platform maybe for daytime.
[00:32:55] Dan: Right. So tell me Francisco. So let’s assume you’re [00:33:00] going to be a wildly successful company and it’s five years down the road. It’s been a success. Dan comes back and wants to interview you and say, wow, how did things go, Francisco? Is it a success? And you say, yes, how are you going to define success? What is your vision for where you want this company to go?
[00:33:19] Francisco Baptista: I think there are two ways to look into sort of success. I think I definitely want to see this problem is solved. I want to live in a world where my kids will [00:33:30] have the sports possible when they start playing whatever sport they decide to play at school or in the local community club, or if they decided to go sort of semipro their roads to get through professional, authentic parole will be supported by a platform like.
[00:33:48] This is what success looks like. I think that are ways that could be, I guess, more successful if a brand like Nike under armor or [00:34:00] additives decides to use our technology because they do have access to sports market around the world. And our technology can only benefit those plays in those teams, in those markets.
[00:34:14] So that is also that form of success. So how can we accelerate in five years who is going to help us accelerate TeamSportz? So that of course technology is available to everyone at any level, anywhere in whoa. So that is definitely what would be success look like for [00:34:30] us.
[00:34:30] Dan: I love the ambition and very well said a tremendous vision for sure. So we’re going to take another short break and we’ll be right back with Francisco Baptista from TeamSportz.
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[00:35:54] Dan: So we’re back with Francisco Baptista from TeamSportz. So let’s switch gears a [00:36:00] little bit, Francisco, and talk a little bit about fundraising. What has been the fundraising journey for TeamSportz so far?
[00:36:07] Francisco Baptista: It’s been great. All things considered. I think we raised our pre-seed round. We started fundraising last year in February, sort of mix of lockdown. In fact, we raised funding from investors and. Face to face. So that was on itself, sort of an achievement. I was also positively surprised that are so many [00:36:30] angles to TeamSportz in the, how some investors saw, where we were doing in terms of really want to live in a world where. So Alan does like you, instead of trying to disrupt, serve the market and bringing sort of new solutions in a mean way of thinking from investors that thought actually, you know what you’ve done, he is an amazing, I can see, you know, five years down the line, this will be awesome.
[00:36:54] And others there saw actually our AI core technology could be applied to other [00:37:00] aspects like physio and et cetera. So from a fundraising standpoint, Why successful in raising our seed round. We’ve got NGOs that spend a great deal of time, sort of helping us make sense of what we are doing is that the next steps, all stages, including hiring, you know, and so on.
[00:37:19] So very tactical decisions to sort of strategic group decisions. Now, having said that I’m still the black founder trying to raise sports and an AI business, [00:37:30] no holdings of any university degrees or anything. So had my profile, you know, statistically speaking, if my profile was not like that, I would have been most successful, but these are the brains, a lot more money.
[00:37:44] So that, in that sense, that still ease of reality of fundraising for a black founder, unfortunately. And it’s definitely almost space for having those conversations. That’s a lot more space to sort of, you know, face those numbers and those [00:38:00] statistics, you know, from the get go, but still not an easy task.
[00:38:04] And I’ve got examples of founders that started in at the end of the same, accelerate that as. We’re able to place a lot more with having a lot less, you know, I’ve made it, you can’t compare apples and pads. And nobody says that be from an old farm, is that different, but it is been interesting, also an opportunity for self-learning and it was for me because it puts you in sort of in that set of [00:38:30] perspectives of am I speaking to someone.
[00:38:32] Yeah, the cause of my word. So because of someone else put something else and, but also I’ve learned so much about cap tables and investment and shares and something I’d never had an experience with and in a window to speak to VCs and why not to speak to VCs and when to speak to angels and whites. They speak with angels, but also, you know, what is an angel network?
[00:38:54] If you asked me two years ago, like, what many Google this? You know, if you ask me now, I was like, yes, [00:39:00] I know what an angel network is. Instead of, you know, you sort of get accustomed to the legal and the language, but also. I know what data room, where if you have any investment conversations that have, you know, how to follow on from those conversations.
[00:39:13] So what is my data room again? Two years ago? It’s like, what data room? What is that database like? No, no, it’s just a folder where investors can find, you know, information about your business, your attack, et cetera, your team, you know, et cetera, et cetera, as can deep, deep into your business and doubts that of, you know, [00:39:30] standing in front of you and a peach or just in the back.
[00:39:32] So it’s been learning. For me as a founder and for the rest of the team, I think we were successful. We definitely know out of woods, we still raising like most stuff up still raising that we have got some pretty impressive set of investors as we stand. So I think this speaks of, you know, what the sports is and how we put it together.
[00:39:53] Dan: So tell us though. I mean, I think a lot of black founders have the similar journey and I don’t want to gloss over the fact that, you know, [00:40:00] there is a long, there’s a long process. And like you said before, there’s a lot of nos. Tell us about the first investor that said, yes, you don’t have to necessarily name them if you don’t want to, but just the experience of how did you get to them? How did you connect with them? What did they echo back to you about why they were so excited about investing in you? Because I think a lot of people wonder, what is this? It’s not always clear, like, and I think when they look backwards and they say, oh yeah, I should have recognized that person was [00:40:30] really interested or that person was clearly telling me they weren’t interested. But tell us about those first investor experiences that sort of where successful.
[00:40:37] Francisco Baptista: So I think there’s a couple of things that I’ve learned from those early investors. So first is that I genuinely approach people and ask for advice. Yes. In the back of my mind, I need. I needed to raise some funding, but just by saying so I knew that a lot, I did not know about raising funding.[00:41:00]
[00:41:00] So really what I needed was so my very first investors and Lisa has been not just an investor, but a great mentor. I approached Lisa and I said, I genuinely just need some advice. I think this is where we going, but let’s just have a chapter about TeamSportz. And if you could spend any, any time. And so I think that’s really important because the signal that for someone, is he someone that he’s opening to learn and maybe have deeper conversations.
[00:41:29] But the flip [00:41:30] side is that you really must be as a founder open to learn and open. So be guided in the open. Demonstrates that, you know, that’s not a waste of time. That is really, really important because it was the thing you have is you ask for advice, but radio of mine I’ve need your signature on my cap table and you will receive some advise and you know, able to demonstrate that you actually listening to that applies because your mind you asking for a, but actually you really [00:42:00] want.
[00:42:00] And so that for me is really important. And I think genuinely when I asked for advice for Lisa, I really wanted some advice. Lisa then introduced me to Rand Fishkin again, for some advice and they volunteered on and then offered to invest in TeamSportz. So, so they took the next step.
[00:42:19] Dan: So Lisa is just so the audience knows who you’re talking about…
[00:42:22] Francisco Baptista: Yes. Lisa is one of my early investors and advisors. In fact, you’ll find the Lisa [00:42:30] profile and I’ve wrote extensively about sort of my fundraising journey. And just to go back to the signals that I think is the authenticity really, that transpired. So, and I think that to me, made a difference, made a difference, not because I intentionally put an effort to be authentic, but that.
[00:42:49] Head back from those early investors. When I decided I want to share my experience fundraising with other founders, I want to take a few lessons and give some practical [00:43:00] advice. They said to me, we invested because, you know, you want an authentic founder, you know who you want. There’s no sort of mosques and et cetera.
[00:43:10] And so if you looking to fundraising, Go and meet as many people as you can. If you ask for advice, genuinely sort of listened to that advice because that plays really important to be able to listen and demonstrate that you’re listening, that gives the right signals to those advisors to become investors, or generally introduce you to a [00:43:30] lot of people inside of these guys.
[00:43:31] You should invest on them because I can’t invest in them. Maybe I don’t have the cash, but you shouldn’t because if I had to cash, I would invest in. Yeah. So I tend to be so genuine and I believe in what they’re doing and so on and so on. But those key investors made a huge difference for me. Then you sort of getting introduced to someone else and then it could be someone else.
[00:43:51] And then I was introduced to mark gaining the founder of Strava, who now is an investment in TeamSportz. Also, I would say to anyone [00:44:00] looking for funding is you gotta, you gotta ask, you know, you’ve gotta be out there. You gotta be able to cite. I am fundraising in a variety to have a conversation with anyone about funding.
[00:44:09] And that’s also important. So being an unlikely founder, instead of being a black founder underrepresented. It’s already hard tries to fundraise. And so you also need to look for alternative ways to fundraise and, you know, use plea to use LinkedIn, you know, medium that are other ways to give it, to understand who that might [00:44:30] be an investor. But most importantly, you’ve got to ask, you’ve gotta be out there. You’ve got to ask. You’ve got to listen. Yeah, be authentic.
[00:44:37] Dan: I love that. And yeah, that’s definitely some good themes there. Authenticity, advisability, the idea of pursuing the networks, that boomerang from other networks that the, of the people who become your early champions. And I think that’s great advice because a lot of times. Especially now everybody’s looking for the playbook, right? Like here’s the perfect pitch deck and here’s [00:45:00] the perfect outreach email and these kinds of things. And I think there’s some merit to that in terms of level setting and not trying to create too much friction for the person that you’re trying to reach. But what you just talked about, trumps all of that, right. Being yourself, being somebody who listens, somebody who can take advice and have a learning mindset and is open. Right. And so I think that’s a great lesson for a lot of folks.
[00:45:27] Francisco Baptista: And I would just also add to that if I may, [00:45:30] which is obviously you hear a lot about look for investment at the right stage, you know, what is the right stage?
[00:45:38] And you all come with a slice different. So at the pre-seed stage, my vision and myself as the CEO and founder, instead of best, a lot or many best because we sell pretty rapidly. So we don’t have the numbers back to traditional investment fund. All of that. So really no best part statistic then suddenly becomes an ace, [00:46:00] all the aspects that you sort of all the lever that you have to leverage sort of that funding and that connection, et cetera, but also demonstrate progress.
[00:46:08] Being able to execute is really important. So you have to say, we’ve got to be doing. And then be able to come back and say, Hey, that’s, that’s back again. By the way that thing that I said, I’m going to do, we’re not just done it, but he’s actually live. And by the way, someone else in season now, next we’re going to be doing that stuff.
[00:46:26] When you go back, next time is go, you know, the second team I said, no, no, you [00:46:30] just done it. Didn’t believe that. And you’d be surprised actually. Equal keep track of that and keep driving through all my LinkedIn updates, my weekly updates. So they are watching sort of bat demonstration of progress in execution.
[00:46:43] Can you actually believe in that? And even if your goals are sort of set by yourself and they are piecemeal demonstrate that you can deliver this business and execute in your own vision is really key.
[00:46:55] Dan: Yeah. I love that. It’s really simple in its message, but it’s something that execute [00:47:00] with precision is difficult. So one quick question, maybe not so quick, I don’t know if you could change one thing about the ecosystem or the marketplace for the better for black founders like yourself, it’s snap, your fingers, wave a magic wand. What would that be?
[00:47:15] Francisco Baptista: That’s a really a tough one. I think definitely sort of opportunity and equality would definitely be something that just doesn’t, it doesn’t exist.
[00:47:25] Can always look at certain members demonstrate that some of it exists, but [00:47:30] in the greater scheme of things, and if you’re female black and from part of any other minority group, suddenly your numbers become 0.01%. You know, the numbers never show that even though 1% check is 50% percent smaller than your sort of counterparts. So in reality, you know, if you knew that opportunity/equality and actually the check sizes, then you realize that you actually part of a very, very minuscule [00:48:00] minority. I said, once in my tweets, that of course I know. But I’ve been acutely aware that I’m black since I’ve started TeamSportz, and that was not by by accident. Literally everything else sort of reminds you what you were against. That is a big mountain that you are against and you have to climb it just because just so happened that I’m blessed. And that is very, very tough. And people [00:48:30] don’t really realize how tough it is. I think you can read it and really you can get informed about that sometimes when you are in my shoes and many of the founders that you have interviewed when you are in our shoes, then it’s just a very, very tough to swallow.
[00:48:48] And so I would say that is a long way to go for the market to be provide the same opportunities to black farmers. And if it’s not my [00:49:00] opinion, that’s what I would do. So I want to compete with anyone else because of my skills and the things that I described, my ability to deliver my ability to write AI operates without having a PhD and my ability to learn English without being thoughts, my ability to create a team in the shoe string budget, you know, in the oldest things are instead of the demonstration. How far I can go provided the right set [00:49:30] of opportunities.
[00:49:31] Dan: Wow. Thanks so much for sharing that then, uh, couldn’t agree. A hundred percent more to what I do do this podcast and to showcase that there should be equality, there should be equity and opportunity. Well, this has been an amazing conversation. We’re coming up to the end of our time together Francisco. But before we go, I want to definitely give a shout out to Unfound Nation and see if there’s ways that we can be supportive for you or for TeamSportz.
[00:49:58] Francisco Baptista: Definitely. If you are [00:50:00] listening to this and I’m sure you are all of you download TeamSportz app, which is TeamSportz in one word, not with an S, with a Z at the end, it is an app store and Android store. Give it a try, give us some feedback. If you’re part of a sports team, then get your coach to join into the platform because then the magic really happens. And if you, uh, In the business of the future that wants to change the set that sports industry, everyone else in upon at [00:50:30] least give us a shot to connect with me on LinkedIn. I would love to chat you both investment and business opportunities.
[00:50:36] Dan: And do you want to share anything at your social handles or any other ways to get hold of you.
[00:50:40] Francisco Baptista: It’s TeamSportz altogether with Zed to novice in any social media, you’ll find us. There’s no way to make a mistake. Same way you look for the app. You’ll find us on Instagram, on Twitter or LinkedIn. Look for the shield and you’ll find these sports.
[00:50:57] Dan: That’s some good branding there. That’s what I like to see for [00:51:00] sure. Well, thank you so much, Francisco. This has been an awesome conversation. Really appreciate it.
[00:51:04] Francisco Baptista: No thank you Dan. It’s fantastic. Thanks for the opportunity.
[00:51:07] Dan: We’d like to thank our guest, Francisco Baptista and our sponsor Founders Live.
[00:51:11] This podcast was produced by me, Dan Kihanya
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[00:51:36] I am Dan Kihanya and you’ve been listening to Founders Unfound.