- Sportboleh strikes global technology partnership with endurance sports brand IRONMAN
- Success result of many tiny but mighty elements – including CGP
“DO you want to run faster than your friends? Then use EXOGEN™.” This is how Joseph Dolcetti describes his company’s product. He may sound like a seasoned business owner but the co-founder of Sportboleh Sdn Bhd never thought that he would one day become an entrepreneur.
“I became an entrepreneur as a result of following my passion in sport sciences and a desire to create something that I knew was needed,” he says. “Forming the company was just another step in this continuing process. Becoming an entrepreneur was the result, not the goal.” Dolcetti incorporated Sportboleh in 2009, along with his co-founders Sean Andrew Sturgess, Haflil Feiruz Md Feisol, Susanna Olovsson, and Patrick Potvin.
Dolcetti, a high performance coach who trains athletes and coaches, became inspired when researching the process of bringing an invention into the market. “One of the many books I was reading at the time was called The Inventor’s Bible, which had a chapter on the process of determining the channels to commercialise your invention,” he says.
“This included a detailed checklist of factors needed if you were going to choose the most challenging of all the potential avenues: forming your own company and commercialising the invention yourself.”
One of the salient points from the book that struck Dolcetti was; if you could not check 80% or more of the factors, your idea was unlikely to succeed commercially. “I spent a week being brutally honest with myself, going through that checklist several times and I kept coming up very strong on the list. Starting LILA movementechnology™ made sense and was certainly the most adventurous route, so off I went,” he says. LILA movementechnology™ is the brand under Sportboleh.
The way we move
The company's first product line is the EXOGEN™ EXOSKELETON and Dolcetti says that it is the world’s most advanced wearable resistance compression wear. “It provides lightweight body loading from as little as 50 grammes up to 15% of your weight to any part of your body for any sport or activity.” The company's customers are active in all sports, fitness, and outdoor activities and its products are aimed at improving the way people move.
“If you are an athlete then that means we create technologies and methodologies like the EXOGEN™ line to help you achieve excellence in your sport, whether that means helping you win the Olympic gold medal, running your first 10km race, or getting a college athletic scholarship,” he elaborates. “If you are returning from an injury, then our technologies will support your rehabilitation and return to daily work.”
Strong IP protection
A strong believer in intellectual property (IP) Dolcetti says Sportboleh has applied for three trademarks, filed in two different classifications
“We also already have three patents filed worldwide on the EXOGEN Line in all major markets (USA, EU, CHINA, etc) with a fourth now in drafting for our soon to be launched "Gunslinger" upper-body ARM-WEB - straight from the pages of the Avengers!”
An All Blacks achievement
Sportboleh may be relatively new on the scene but they are already enjoying worldwide recognition from industry greats. The company has worked with a diverse range of celebrated individuals and organisations in the world of sports. “We want to present the best product for our customers, and to do so, we work with the best in the sports and research industries,” maintains Dolcetti.
Working with the best took on new meaning this year when Sportboleh secured a global technology partnership with international endurance sports brand IRONMAN which Dolcetti claims in the first ever technology partnership of its kind for a Malaysian company with a major sports brand.
“This begins as a global Expo partner and we have begun discussions on a merchandise and licensee partnership down the road,” he says, pointing out that IRONMAN was recently bought by China’s Wanda group for US$650 million (RM2.66 billion). Global Expo partner means Sportboleh starts by being present at major Ironman events around the world to build brand and technology awareness.
That aside, one of their earliest and most rewarding collaborations so far has been with Dr John Cronin, Head of Research at Auckland University of Technology (AUT) and Sport Performance Research Institute of New Zealand.
“He was extremely impressed by EXOGEN™ and in that first meeting in 2014 we made a handshake deal to partner with AUT-SPRINZ as our international research partners,” recalls Dolcetti.
“This step blossomed into an incredible and mutually beneficial partnership. In the two years since we have published and presented world class research together on EXOGEN™ and its groundbreaking performance benefits in Australia, New Zealand, the United States and later this year in Europe with the World Tennis Federation.”
This partnership has also led Sportboleh to form prestigious connections with Surfing Australia as well as the Hurley High Performance Surf Center in Gold Coast Australia. Sportboleh’s EXOGEN™ has even reached New Zealand’s world famous rugby team, the All Blacks. “The All Blacks are currently training with EXOGEN™ for the 2016 Rio Olympics,” says Dolcetti, with a dash of pride.
With its full commercial launch of EXOGEN™ in Jan 2016, the company is now busy recruiting Elite Launch Teams to expand into North America and Australia New Zealand by Q3-Q4 of 2016.
Beyond its brick and mortar presence its e-commerce site was launched (www.movementrevolution.com) with a social media strategy in development.
Tiny but mighty
Dolcetti says that Sportboleh's success is the result of a combination of many tiny but mighty elements. One of these was the Coach and Grow Programme (CGP). “The CGP sessions were structured in a way to expose us to different problems and challenges, as well as tools that we would need on our journey.”
During the CGP, Dolcetti also learned about the important concept of 'market sensitivity'. “In several of the ASEAN level investor forums, which we were privileged to participate in, this was identified as a primary ingredient investors look for in founders,” he explains.
This was one of the reasons why Sportboleh was able to leverage its connections in the world of elite sports and make the most of unique opportunities to build a solid marketing platform. “If a company manages to connect with its customers, then it is on the way to success,” shares Dolcetti.
Connecting with investors is also key and in that sense, Sportboleh has received an angel investment from a prominent private equity executive and is currently negotiating its Series A funding.
But before both of these, Sportboleh received a major boost from Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd through its CIP500 grant of RM500,000 in 2014 which helped them complete their EXOGEN™.
Like winning a championship
When Dolcetti thinks back to the start of his journey to entrepreneurial success, a few specific words come to mind. “It has been hard, long, interesting, fun, challenging, ego-shattering, and awesome,” he says. “Not much has changed since then! We still experience the same things now.”
Dolcetti accepts this myriad of extreme emotions as an intrinsic part of being an entrepreneur. “Like winning a world championship or reaching a major mountain summit, every aspect of an entrepreneur’s journey is a challenge because you are constantly dealing with two realities: limited resources and an ever-changing environment. But when you look around at the experience, it is breath taking. Sometimes when you cross the finishing line, you wonder how you ever managed to achieve your target.”
Dolcetti credits his co-founders with helping him to navigate challenging situations. “To overcome any challenge, I have found it is always about patience, tenacity, and teamwork. No journey is a solo one. I am lucky I have the other guys on the journey with me. We have been together for 12 years, so that says it all.”
Discover Sportboleh at www.movementrevolution.com
The above is an excerpt from the book Startups to Scaleups published in October 2015 by Cradle Fund and Proficeo Consultants, the programme manager for Cradle’s Coach and Grow Programme. DNA will be featuring every entrepreneurial story from the book in a special commercial arrangement.