It all started with a university project when Emma Meehan, founder of Precision Sports Technology, tried to come up with a better way for personal trainers to communicate effectively with clients, and vice-versa.
Emma does competitive weightlifting, and she would often spend time and money through a very manual process of recording and trimming videos of her technique and form, sending them through WhatsApp to her personal trainer, before getting a reply back some time later with the PT’s expert thoughts. She knew there had to be a better and more efficient way forward.
Having completed her prototype for her final year project, she received really good marks on it. So much so that the supervisors on her project urged her to go about setting up a start-up, which she ultimately did.
A stint of over three years with Cisco as a software engineer meant that Emma picked up a lot of really great skills, but the urge to create her business was always there, and when September 2021 rolled around, Precision Sports Technology was born. Simply put, by leveraging artificial intelligence, the software can provide real-time feedback for athletes on exercise technique and actionable metrics to fitness professionals.
So, how did Emma make that switch from a secure job into the relatively unknown world of start-ups? Enterprise Ireland and readily available funding certainly played a key role, as Emma explains.
“The inflection point was quite easy for me because I had done the New Frontiers Phase 1 programme last summer – part-time and evenings to help build up market research, so you’re really solving a problem. And then for Phase 2, there were 14 of us in Galway-Mayo that got into that,” Emma says, adding that the income from that was more than enough to help her adjust to the new way of life as a solo entrepreneur.
The mental shift, however, was a different sort of adjustment.
“When I’d finish in Cisco at 5 o’ clock and close the laptop, that was it, I’d be done with work and could completely forget about it until Monday. Whereas now, I’ll pull myself away from the last task because I have to eat and try to switch off for the evening, but then constantly the brain’s spinning, waking up in the night with ideas,” she says.
It’s certainly a never-off mindset for the ambitious tech entrepreneur who wants to succeed and create an idea that will add value to people’s lives.
It’s a lot of work – and the founder life is not for the faint of heart – but Emma explains that it gives her nourishment and a sense of fulfilment.
“I definitely feel like I have a purpose. I get up in the morning and I’m like ‘yes, I want to get into this’.
“My whole goal really is to combine my passion and my skills – my skills in tech, and my passion for health and fitness – to create something that I feel is really valuable to society. Whether that’s my start-up or something else, that’s how I want to invest my time, but right now [Precision Sports Technology] is something that people are really crying out for, and luckily the technology has evolved so much in the space. Ten to fifteen years ago, LiDAR was just emerging in robotics, really expensive, whereas now the sensors I need for the exercise feedback are in the latest iPhone,” Emma explains.
The technology certainly has developed so much in such a short space of time – and it is continuing to dominate so many conversations across the industry.
So much so that it’s fascinating to think how much further and faster the tech is going to improve over the next decade or two. It’s natural to wonder what ideas will be actionable then that aren’t now, just like how Precision Sports Technology ultimately came to be.
And Galway itself has a part to play in shaping that future. So, what does Emma think Galway’s AI ecosystem can bring to the global party?
“The rate of innovation is probably faster than ever now because of Covid. The whole Great Resignation – people are saying ‘I’m going to give this start-up idea a go now’ and there’s so much going on in Galway between the start-up scene and multinationals – and the two universities now as well,” she says, adding that the spread of information about AI, and other tech, is really sowing a lot of new seeds.
“You don’t need to have rich parents to get a start-up going. With government supports, you can get a whole lot done if you’re willing to put the hours in – the sweat equity, as they say!”
Emma is certainly putting in the hard yards to maximize her time, resources, and efforts, and she’s making the most of the cash that she has gotten in to help get Precision Sports Technology to the next stage. That said, it’s hard to do everything completely solo, and Emma will be getting some great support from two paid interns over the next while, and it’s going to be great to see how they contribute to what’s already a fantastic success story.
Emma also mentions the likes of the NDRC – and the PorterShed – as fantastic supports in terms of practical support and encouragement, whether that’s through insider knowledge, tips and tricks, or simply just that bit of emotional cheerleading.
Because while a solo founder can do a lot and make magic happen with a lot of endeavour, it does take a lot of heavy lifting from time to time, something that Emma knows a great deal about.
But as her journey in the start-up world with Precision Sports Technology attests, she’s certainly making light work of it all.
By Trevor Murray