EY Entrepreneur of the Year international finalist: Alan Clarke, STATSports Technologies

‘We have managed to grow the company without taking on any debt’

Alan Clarke is the founder and chief executive of STATSports, a provider of performance monitoring and analysis systems in the elite sports industry. Clarke founded STATSports in 2007 along with his business partner, Sean O'Connor. Clarke completed a mechanical engineering degree in Dundalk Institute of Technology and worked in senior roles within the music industry before forming STATSports.

The main component of this system is STATSports Viper Pod which is worn by athletes during training and on match day to collect data about their physiological performance. The Viper system collects more than half a million numbers every minute and translates this into valuable information that is easy for coaches to act upon. STATSports has 35 employees with plans to expand this number to cope with the ever increasing demand for the Viper system.

STATSports work with 80 per cent of the English Premier League as well as Barcelona, Juventus and Athletic Bilbao. They also have a number of international teams including Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, England, Wales and Poland. STATSports also count a host of rugby teams including the IRFU, RFU, Ulster, Connacht and Leicester. STATSports opened its US headquarters in 2015 and has already signed more than 20 teams across the NFL, NBA and MLS including Cincinnati Bengals, Chicago Bulls and LA Galaxy.

Describe your business model and what makes your business unique. What makes our business model unique is the fact we have been able to work with the top teams in sport from day one. Usually in business, you have to start at the bottom and earn the right to work with the biggest players. Leading teams immediately saw the value they could gain from using the Viper system and we have had a constant stream of world-class sporting organisations signing ever since.


What is your greatest business achievement to date? The overall success of the company. When we started the company, we had major plans to take sports science to the next level. But to see these plans come to fruition and watch as Messi, Neymar, Rooney, Gerrard, Derrick Rose and Cam Newton use the Viper system on a daily basis has been incredible.

What moment/deal would you cite as the "game changer" or turning point for the company? We worked with the IRFU as Ireland won the Six Nations and Grand Slam in 2009. As the Viper Pods are very visible during matches, this generated a lot of publicity for the company. This led to the English RFU signing with STATSports and opened doors for us at Manchester United which we took full advantage of.

Describe your growth funding path. We have managed to grow the company to this stage without taking on any debt. In an industry where the product production costs are high we feel this has been a remarkable achievement. We have had great support from Invest Northern Ireland who have helped us along the way with a number of grants which have assisted us in reaching key objectives.

What is the most important piece of advice you would offer to a less experienced entrepreneur? No matter what industry, there is always room for innovation. We could have been put off thinking these elite teams would never deal with two lads from Ireland. But we created a product that they couldn't ignore and that is the best advice I could pass on to aspiring entrepreneurs.