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Kitman Labs - The Founders Story

Updated: Apr 10


Stephen Smith of Kitman Labs

What is the founder(s) background?


My background is in sports medicine, and I hold an undergraduate sports medicine degree. I also have qualifications in strength and conditioning, and I played elite level rugby. When I finished university I started working for a professional rugby team. Because of my skill set and understanding of the game, combined with my strength and conditioning background, I ended up playing a very interesting role - being the glue in that environment to help translate what was happening on the field and what was happening in the gym or the training field or in the treatment room. I was able to help bring all of that information together to promote better, more productive discussions internally about how we were managing our athletes.


What drove you to start Kitman Labs?


From working in professional sports, I started to see the amount of information that was being collected and how fractured it was and how it limited us from making good decisions. For instance, when the rugby department had all of their information and their training data and performance data in one system and the medical team had all of their information in another system, the fitness team in another system, it was impossible for us to make informed decisions around what kind of impact an athlete’s training session was actually having on their health and performance. Ultimately, that spurred me to want to do my job better and to showcase that there was a better way to bring all of this information together, which led to the creation of Kitman Labs.


What key milestones have you achieved so far?


We see it in the market and in the field through the adoption of our technology by thousands of teams globally and the fact that some of the biggest leagues in the world are starting to realise that this is an incredibly important and critical topic. We are seeing leagues and governing bodies buy into this type of technology and approach and understand the quality of our products and how an athlete’s wellbeing impacts their bottom line as a business. That’s what we are most proud of as a business, validation from the biggest leagues in the world.


Kitman Labs image


What has been the biggest challenge?


The biggest challenge is helping organisations to understand that there is a different way and helping them to make that change -  helping big leagues see the opportunity and to take that first step.

On a personal level the biggest challenge for me is learning and growing. I’m a first time CEO and all of these experiences that I’m going through are new. Going from an idea to a company with over 200 staff members, there’s a whole different set of challenges. Everything from managing the growth and evolution of the business itself and learning every day. I had the industry experience and knowledge beforehand but learning an entirely new vocabulary and knowledge base, from financing and fundraising, managing shareholders or managing staff or growing the business, that’s been a completely different experience from days on the pitch.



Kitman Lab image


What lessons have you learnt so far?


You have to be resilient and learn the importance of having a very clear purpose and direction and I’ve also learnt to believe. When I first started this journey, I never thought the company would get to where it is today. I was fuelled by passion at that moment in time, but I think that by showcasing a certain level of belief and being able to bring these ideas to life, you can see the impact that they have had.  That’s further underlined the need to believe and continue to innovate and think about where we see the future. Once that’s in place you then must take action and build.


Lowest moment?


A journey like this, a business like this, is full of highs and lows and there have been numerous different lows. We have raised almost 100 million dollars for the growth of the company - that requires lots of conversations with investors and prospective investors. I think you need to get used to a level of rejection. When you have so many people telling you that this concept won’t work and questioning why major leagues would work with a small company in Ireland, it's challenging. When you get told “no” that many times by professionals in their field, it can be pretty difficult.


Biggest highlight?


Having the fortitude to deal with that rejection and be able to come out the other side. To be able to raise the capital we have to support the growth of the company, prove-out our technology and methodology in the field, signing these big leagues to agreements in addition to all of these expansion deals with teams and clubs - it all makes it incredibly rewarding.  Every one of those deals is incredibly meaningful to us. Every deal is another step in our journey to success. It’s another step for us in fulfilling our vision and our mission. I'm continuously having those proud moments and the partnerships we are signing are proof that the strategy and vision we have is working.


Kitman Lab dashboard

What is your ambition and what do you want to achieve in the future?


I want our technology to be synonymous with performance intelligence across the sports technology sector. I think we are heading in that direction, but more than anything we want the most important decisions in the world of high-performance sport to be fuelled by our technology and our capabilities that we are providing to teams and leagues all over the world.


Stephen Smith is the founder of Kitman Labs. For further information visit https://www.kitmanlabs.com

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