Endlessly motivating

Endlessly motivating


Endlessly Motivating

This is the exact phrase one of the coaches I’ve been speaking to recently used, when I asked him if he has any feedback from his athletes who are using our platform on a daily basis. It felt very good, obviously, to hear such a compliment from one of our most active users, and at the same time it got me asking the question to myself: how did we get here?

For a bit of a trip down memory lane, it all began with my co-founder Alexei talking about the potential he sees in improving the way in which athletes and coaches work with each other.

After facing challenges in this area himself during his past career as a professional athlete - he was three-times Swiss Champion in Beach Volleyball and Volleyball - , Alexei noticed the gap existing on the digital tooling side between the world of tech and that of competitive sports. This gap was brought even closer into his focus during the 2018 Summer season of Beach Volleyball, where Alexei still competes on the national stage for fun and love of playing. His partner - who was then 18 years old and part of the national team in Volleyball - was facing the exact same challenges and difficulties that Alexei had faced 7 years earlier. Keeping track of his own activities, communicating to his coaches on how he felt and what body part was hurting each day, and overall in getting relevant insights into his own past training and performance.

As Alexei was explaining to me what an early prototype for an app that could solve this problem can look like, I was initially skeptical that such a tool didn’t already exist. It somehow sounded impossible that in 2018 there was no athlete-focused platform of this nature. But his reasoning, along with my own intense market research during the following weeks, brought both of us to the conclusion that it would definitely be worth a shot.

So that’s how we set about building the first prototype of Athlyts. Our focus was clear from the beginning on what would be our unique differentiator: an app focused on the athlete, one that is so well crafted around their daily lives that they will LOVE to use constantly. We were well aware of the difficulty of such a challenge though, so we set our sights on first solving a specific use case we knew would be relevant and a burning need: digitizing the activity tracking form that Swiss Olympics recommends Swiss sports federations to use in order to prevent athlete injuries.

At the point when we started this process, a large number of athletes and coaches in Switzerland using this tool (an Excel spreadsheet) were interacting with it at most once per week, and the process of inputting and analyzing data was archaic, to say the least. Each athlete would spend a few hours at the end of the week writing down all the things they did during that week - trainings, recovery sessions, cross-sports activities, etc. - and then they would send it to the coach. The coach would then put all the info together - manually of course - and then have a look at the insights which the Excel provided: charts showing load and potential risk of injury using the ACWR model. After that the coach would try to figure out what those charts can actually mean in terms of next weeks’ training program, for each of their athletes.

As you might already imagine, the entire experience was not rewarding and not fun, to say the least, for anyone involved. And that’s why not a lot of coaches or athletes were really making use of it, and those who did try to do it properly were really struggling. So we knew clearly that even if we could improve on this process by a small margin, we would surely get the attention of a few teams and coaches who would give it a try.

It turned out that we were right in this assumption, and lucky as well. One of the coaches in the Swiss Volleyball federation (thanks Frieder!) knew Alexei well enough to trust that we were serious about our prototype, and that we were in this for the long journey needed to build a platform that could be really useful in the day to day interactions between athlete and coach. So he started using it with his women’s teams on a daily basis. He was also kind enough to always provide us with feedback, and we also opened direct communication channels with his athletes, in order to get their feedback first-hand.

That’s how it all began to evolve. More feedback, more insights, more decisions, more features on an ever-growing list of requests. Slowly but surely we kept adding to the product, until we were comfortable enough to call it a Beta, and then a few months later open it to the world as a fully working platform focused on athlete development.

It’s always hard to judge objectively, as an entrepreneur, whether you have something that really connects with your customers in the early stages. In our case, we noticed from the first weeks that both the athletes and the coaches were really liking the vibe and feel of our app, and that they really enjoyed using it. So we pressed on, and Alexei started contacting a handful of other coaches he knew in other sports. More feedback, more interest, more updates.

And then something really amazing happened. Coaches started talking to each other more and more, and they started spreading the word themselves, without us knowing or doing something about it. They were doing it not because we sold them anything (our product is still fully free as of this moment), but because they really loved the product, our vision and our dedication to improving the lives of athletes. One sport turned into a couple, then very soon we had 5, and a few months later close to 10 different sports active on Athlyts. As of now we have more than a dozen sports here in Switzerland, with tens of teams, hundreds of coaches and thousands of athletes using our platform each day. Quite amazing when we think about it, and also incredibly humbling for us. Having so much trust put in us, and with so many coaches putting their own credibility on the line for us, makes us very grateful on one hand and also massively motivated - and pressured in a good way - to keep delivering and improving. We are now marking 1 year since we went out of Beta with Athlyts, and what a ride it has been so far!

So what about the coming years? Using the words of the coach I mentioned in the beginning, developing Athlyts is an endlessly motivating experience and we are here for the long journey.

The clear vision we work towards is elevating the world of sports and helping athletes around the world develop successfully in their careers, increase performance and decrease injuries. My personal belief is that we have the right ingredients to make this happen, and to have a long lasting contribution in the world of sports.

There is so much opportunity to improve the lives of athletes everywhere, and we are so grateful to have so many of our coaches on the platform sharing that excitement and acting as our daily ambassadors and spreading the word about Athlyts. Along with the outstanding talents we’re honored to call the Athlyts team, and in close collaboration with the high calibre investors who’ve put their trust in us from the beginning, we’re super excited to take on any challenge the future has in store for us.

Here’s to our continued journey, onwards and upwards, together!

Athlyts is a tech platform for individual-centered athletic development.

We believe in helping athletes improve and manage themselves by focusing on their needs and dynamics. At the same time, our “Coach” app is dedicated to serve and support the coaching staff on an everyday basis, in ways that feel intuitive and relevant. Together we want to push the quality of each athlete’s development and performance level, while taking care of their health and reducing injuries.

We also believe we can have a lasting contribution by innovating on the key tech and science aspects which can support athletes and coaches everyday. Our attention is primarily focused on observing and listening, in order to understand what really works and what doesn’t. That’s why our platform offers a tremendous amount of functionality for free, as part of our vision to elevate the world of sports globally, together.

If you haven’t given Athlyts a try yet, we warmly encourage you to do so: whether you are an individual athlete or a coach, club or federation aiming to onboard hundreds of athletes, our platform is simple, fast and free!

Also do not hesitate to get in touch with us if you have questions or ideas and feedback on how we could further improve.