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Hiro Capital Doubles Down on Digital Sports With its Latest Investment in PlayerData - Builds on Games & DSports Portfolio Acceleration

Hiro Capital – the London / Luxembourg VC fund investing across Games, Esports, Streaming and Digital Sports – has further strengthened its portfolio by leading a $2.3m investment in PlayerData .

Edinburgh, UK-based PlayerData’s mission is to transform the way grass-roots and professional sports teams train, using software, analytics, gamification and wearable technology.

  • In its first year live, PlayerData has already captured more than 10,000 team sessions and >50 million meters of athlete play in UK grass-roots Soccer and Rugby, and these KPIs are strongly accelerating.
  • The $2.3m raise will be used to supercharge PlayerData’s growth across multiple sports and to expand internationally.

PlayerData combines frictionless ease-of-use with sports-science Machine Learning.

  • PlayerData drives powerful team network effects, with each club using PlayerData bringing 5 more clubs onto the platform.
  • PlayerData’s AI algorithms predict player injuries before they happen and its tools allow coaches to replay key moments from the game, modelling different outcomes based on player positioning.

This announcement marks Hiro Capital’s 12th investment in 2020/21 and its 4th in Gamified Fitness and Sports tech. PlayerData joins fellow Digital Sports startups FitXR (London), Zwift (California/London) and NURVV (London) in the Hiro Capital portfolio, alongside eight Games studios and Games technology firms across the US, Europe and the UK.

The rise of Digital Sports and Connected Fitness

Digital Sports and Connected Fitness are star growth sectors of 2020/21. Global Connected Fitness revenues grew 30% in 2020 and Health and Fitness app downloads grew +47% YoY to c.700m, accelerated by a global focus on health and wellbeing during lockdowns.

Unicorn scale stars of the sector include Peloton, Tonal, Mirror and Hiro’s portfolio investment, Zwift, as well as major strategic Sports and Wellness segments within Apple (Watch 6 and Fitness+), Google (Fitbit), Nike (Nike App), and others. In Digital Sports, alongside Zwift, Hiro’s lead investments powered ahead:

FitXR: The leading VR Fitness App & Service

  • FitXR has made extraordinary progress since Hiro invested, with revenues up 10x over the last 2 quarters and now >$1m per month;
  • Described by Oculus VP Content Mike Verdu as having “incredible traction” and “one of the highest retention rates on the [Oculus VR] platform”*, and name-checked by Mark Zuckerberg** on his recent “The Information” podcast on VR/AR and the Metaverse.

*”From Bear to Bull: How Oculus Quest 2 is Changing the Game for VR”, Mike Verdu, VP Content, Oculus 2nd Feb 2020

**Mark Zuckerberg on Mind Reading, Apple, and the Race to Mainstream VR, March 8th 2021

NURVV: Patented Smart Running insole and Biomechanical Data Leader

  • Since launch in mid-2020, NURVV Run has generated data on >100 million foot-strikes from >125,000km run by athletes around the world, building what is already the world’s largest database of detailed running foot technique;
  • Olympic gold-medallist and world-record holder Dame Kelly Holmes has joined NURVV as global brand ambassador; USA Olympian Jared Ward, UK elite coach Harry Jameson, the Financial Times, WIRED, Runner’s World and CNET have all recommended NURVV;
  • With iOS, Android, Garmin ConnectIQ, Strava and Apple Watch integrations live, the company is leading running innovation with unique features such as Pace Coach, Footstrike Workout and Running Health score.
  • "Knowledge really is power and in this respect NURVV Run is a game changer" said Dame Kelly Holmes.

PlayerData: AI Driven Team Performance

Roy Hotrabhvanon, cofounder & CEO of PlayerData, is a former international archer who narrowly missed out on selection for the Rio Olympics in 2016 for the Thailand national team. Hayden Ball, cofounder and CTO is a CompSci expert in firmware and cloud infrastructure who designed, built, and launched a distributed SaaS solution for the Edinburgh Fringe.

On the Hiro investment, Roy said - “Our mission is to bring fine grained data and insight to clubs across team sports, helping them supercharge their game-making, improve player performance, and avoid injury. We leverage our platform and big data to generate biometric insights applicable at any level - from grassroots to the Premier League. Due to the team network effect, the PlayerData community is fast-growing across the U.K. and overseas. Our ultimate goal is to implement cutting-edge insights from pioneering wearables that are applicable to any team in any discipline at any level. Hiro Capital as an investment partner, shares this commitment to our mission. It’s great to have Cherry, Luke and Ian’s belief, counsel and expertise to help us further our vision.

Cherry Freeman, co-founding Partner at Hiro says: “PlayerData ticks all of our key boxes: a huge TAM with over 3m grass-roots clubs; a deep moat built on shared player data, machine learning and highly actionable predictive algorithms; compelling customer network effects; and a really impressive yet humble founding team. We are delighted to be leading this investment round in this exciting DSports innovator

Luke Alvarez, Managing Partner at Hiro says: “In a year when lockdown accelerated digital adoption and kept us all out of the gym, companies like Nurvv, FitXR, Zwift and Peloton helped people stay fit, healthy, and biomechanically self-aware. 2020 super-charged connected fitness and PlayerData is our latest exciting investment in this accelerating macro trend .”

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About Hiro Capital

Hiro Capital is a London / Luxembourg technology Venture Capital fund which invests in UK, US and European innovators in Games, Metaverse Technology, Esports and Digital Fitness. Hiro Capital generally invests at the post-seed Series A and B stages. We invest both in front-end Content creators in Games, Esports and Digital Sports and in deep tech Metaverse applications of Cloud, Mobile, Streaming, Big Data, AI, Wearables, AR and VR technologies.

We back experienced entrepreneurial teams, building innovative technologies and content with a strongly differentiated proposition and with the scaling opportunity to become very large.

We are Games, Esports and Sports investors who are also Games, Esports and Sports entrepreneurs. We are entrepreneurs who back entrepreneurs. Our core belief is that Games, Esports and Digital Sports will be a central pillar of Entertainment, Economic and Social Life in the mid 21st century. We invest in the innovators who are building that future.

The fund was founded by Luke Alvarez (Managing Partner) the former co-founding CEO & President of Nasdaq-listed, Inspired Entertainment; Ian Livingstone, OBE, CBE (Partner), the former chairman of Tomb Raider publisher Eidos plc, co-founder of Games Workshop and author of the Fighting Fantasy gamebook series; and Cherry Freeman (Partner), the co-founder of global community and e-commerce brand LoveCrafts.

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