After two and a half months of training and meetings Start-up from Costa Rica ‘The Sonar Company’ has its stake in the first edition of the SportsTech Business Accelerator with flourishes. This was sponsored by the American media giant Comcast.
The group – owner of studios like Universal and broadcasters like NBC – announced that the Costa Rican company had completed a $ 1 million investment round. Interest in its novel technology even caught the attention of legendary NBA coach and former NBA player Doc Rivers, who invested an undisclosed amount.
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The news was confirmed by the company’s co-founder Allan Matarrita, who added that they also have agreements to continue testing with some professional teams. However, he emphasized that the potential for escalation was most exciting thanks to the detection achieved.
What is entrepreneurship about?
Now his invention, which activates mobile device applications thanks to the emission of ultrasonic tones and without the need for the Internet, is being adapted to the needs of his new partners, among whom Comcast itself stands out.
“We are practically adapting the system so that it is only intended for broadcasting (transmission). There are certain television requirements that require our attention. The idea is that our signal can be used as a replacement for QR codes that are currently used by some television companies. It is entirely possible, we have already verified it. It’s a big challenge on television because there are many threads in the middle, something can go wrong and it’s not always on our side. So we think the rewards are huge, Comcast knows that and that’s why they have already invested in us, ”explained Matarrita.
In this way, both spectators and fans at events with less internet infrastructure can enjoy different experiences via their phone and in real time. Its commercial potential is even greater when you consider that this technology could provide the user with information about a particular player’s athletic shoes, as well as the links to buy it online.
At the very end of February, Matarrita spoke to this medium to explain that the invitation to participate in the program was already a victory. In fact, this is the first edition of SportsTech.
While it’s not the first time The Sonar Company has attended an event of this type, it is the most important one on their résumé. In addition, Matarrita had to overcome another hurdle: taking care of the final presentation.
This was after the team decided that the “million dollar pitch” would be led by one of the co-founders. “I have a lot of experience pitching here in Costa Rica and in the USA. However, my partner Nick was the one who took on that role. So it was very interesting because of the language issue, ”he explained.
The exact call for the Business Accelerator was announced in May 2020. But shortly afterwards the other founder, Nick Heyward, who also comes from a Canadian family, died in an accident.
Nicholas Heyward practiced in the video game world for over 14 years. He got to know Matarrita in a training program at the Costa Rican start-up center Parque Tec. “He noticed that we can take advantage of the technology with gaming platforms,” said Matarrita in 2019.
Although Matarrita thinks he speaks English well, he admits that the vast majority were self-taught. In addition, a business presentation in one’s mother tongue is complicated anyway, and even more so in a second language.
However, he took advantage of the trainings offered by Comcast, practiced with his team and even took private lessons so as not to leave out any details. The result speaks for itself. “We screwed up a lot, we tried a lot. We worked a lot on script, body and facial expressions. It’s a $ 1 million pitch, ”he agreed.
This effort was not in vain. In addition to the goal of reaching the millionaire sum, the presentation of the Costa Rican company was highlighted by the organization as one of the best. It should be noted that the person in them has about 3 minutes to “make the sale”.
Doc Rivers and his investment
Due to the pandemic, the entire process was virtual. While some might suggest this as a benefit, on the contrary, it enabled thousands of people to connect with the event to see the 10 performances.
Including a considerable number of companies and investors ready to support disruptive projects. There the name of the current coach of the Philadelphia 76ers, Doc Rivers, stood out.
In fact, one of the stages where sonar technology was tested was the Wells Fargo Center. The gym is home to the Rivers-led team as well as the NHL’s hockey team, the Flyers. In fact, the latter is one of the 2 teams named by Matarrita as short-term test partners. In addition, the San Antonio Spurs will also implement a pilot plan.
The story with this roster is not new. In 2019, Matarrita announced to this medium that the company was testing its technology in collaboration with the owners of the Alamodome Stadium. It is one of the most famous in the United States and seats 64,000 spectators. It was even the home of the San Antonio Spurs until 2002.
In addition to meeting the fundraising goal, the company has also managed to attract human talent. After the incubator, stadium technology expert Danny Abelson will join the team as Director of Operations.
How does the invention work?
“This technology works through acoustics and our ability to adequately compress the sound in different environments,” said Matarrita.
Ultrasonic tones broadcast through the stadium’s speakers allow users to access applications without the Internet. This responds to the problem of signal loss during massive events, a situation not alien to other countries.
Even those with more advanced telecommunications technologies or with more infrastructure. This technology is known as “Data over Audio” (DOA).
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