Former UEL E-Factor winner excited about new sports technology business
Alex Oviawe ready to make his mark on business world as would-be entrepreneurs get ready for E-Factor 2017 grand final
By Simon Hart
Alex Oviawe, founder and CEO of sports science start-up Precision Sports Technologies, says he owes a big debt of gratitude to the University of East London’s E-Factor competition in turning his business idea into an exciting reality.
“It was massively important,” says Alex, a former UEL sports science student who won E-Factor in 2012, earning a £6,000 prize, a year’s office space in UEL’s Knowledge Dock business centre as well as support and mentorship.
“It’s one thing to have a business idea but another thing to present it and have it judged,” he says.
Seven current UEL students will have their own business ideas judged on May 18 when the grand final of E-Factor 2017 takes place at Canary Wharf.
In a Dragon’s Den-style contest, they will be hoping to follow in Alex’s entrepreneurial footsteps by pitching business ideas involving apps for health care recruitment and wedding videos, an accommodation service for ex-offenders, personal fitness for young people and a range of Caribbean sauces.
As for Alex, he is looking forward to his business’s official product launch next month - five years after his E-Factor triumph.
His company, which has nine staff members including Alex, offers elite sports teams and amateur consumers a high-tech way to avoid injuries and enhance their performance through its ‘Precision WEAR’ wearable tech and PrecisionNET A.I analytics service.
The athlete wears a device inside a vest that uses sensors to monitor their movements and the forces on their body.
For elite teams, the coach can then view performance information and upload data into PrecisionNET A.I – a virtual assistant that assess injury risks – while the consumer version offers recommendations about future training volumes.
The product has evolved considerably since Alex’s E-Factor pitch, which envisaged a low-cost monitoring device for teams.
He got the idea while working part-time as a sports scientist at the West Ham United FC academy after new player monitoring requirements were introduced by the Premier League.
The product’s evolution into something far more sophisticated explains why it has taken five years to bring to market – far longer than Alex originally expected.
“The hope originally was that it would take about a year to complete but I was naïve,” says Alex. “It’s proved a lot more complex and expensive to produce.”
Having moved out of Knowledge Dock in 2013, he returned to the business centre last year after securing a first round of funding.
One advantage of being back at UEL has been the access to high-calibre students who have helped with product design and a promotional video.
As the company prepares for next month’s launch, it has already attracted interest from elite teams in the UK and US. And with no obvious competition, the consumer market offers huge potential. Several high-profile athletes are being lined up for the consumer launch.
Alex, who studied for a MSc in Applied Sport and Exercise Sciences at UEL, is the first to admit the journey from idea to launch has not been straightforward.
At one point his equipment suffered a lightning strike, while the financial sacrifices have constantly tested his resolve.
So what advice does have for the 2017 E-Factor contestants?
“Never Forget,” he says. “On your journey you will fight many goliaths and win, but when a new challenge arrives we often forget the last battle.
“As entrepreneurs we are sometimes so focused on the goal ahead, we forget the past. The best way to overcome a new obstacle is to remember how we overcame the old ones.”