We sat down with Rodney Rapson, iNSPIRETEK’s brand new CEO. We got to know a bit more about his past endeavours and experience and asked about his first impressions and plans for the future of iNSPIRETEK.
How has your experience as an athlete, coach, and parent prepared you for leading iNSPIRETEK?
I have been running businesses and employing people since I graduated from college in 2006. In that time, I have made my share of mistakes and learned a lot as a leader, mentor and executive. When you are the leader of a company, you are the person who needs to make the tough decisions, and have the answers when your team has questions. This is where experience is key, and it has taken me the 15+ years I have been working in and around sports to really develop the skills and processes needed to make effective and timely decisions.
I’d say that being an athlete mirrors business in many ways, and this is why so many business leaders and executives have played sport at a high level previously, whether on a team or as an individual. You often have little control over external factors, so you have to adapt quickly, give your best despite the circumstances, and become solution-oriented around a goal.
As a parent, I have learned to embrace chaos and uncertainty, and these skills have been particularly helpful in the startup world over the past few years.
Talk to us a bit about working with Annie (Founder & Executive Chair) and Kieren (Chief Technology Officer) over the past year and how you envision the executive team leading the company in the near term.
I was first introduced to Annie and iNSPIRETEK through a longtime friend. This would have been last year in the spring or summer. I received the iNSPIRETEK investor deck and scheduled a call with Annie. From our first conversation, I was blown away by her passion, presence and her story. She was building a product for herself, which is such a key for founders. Hearing her story, I could relate to her struggles as a young gymnast, both for myself and the many talented young tennis players I have worked with over the years.
Obviously, there is more to a great startup than just passion and a great founder. Having worked for many years in tech, I know the importance of a great CTO, not only in terms of engineering talent but building a team, understanding the commercial landscape and connecting the technology to the market. Kieren is one of the best CTOs I have worked with, and this includes both startups and large, multinational companies. He is a rare find in the tech world in that he can articulate what he is building and simplify it for non-tech people. From the first demo, I was extremely impressed with the tech stack he had built and it always gave me confidence that it was a solid part of the business with a great foundation to build from.
What is iNSPIRETEK’s potential as a platform, both within sports and in general?
We have started in sports, but the platform can be used in any sector. The technology at its core is designed to be transferable, as we know the mental health crisis knows no borders across demographic or industry. We also know sport the best as a company, and want to ensure we gain the proper traction, product-market fit and commercial scale there before we step out into other areas.
What areas of growth excite you the most for the company?
The majority of our clients are all based in the APAC region. I see the UK and NA as huge growth markets, especially in the schools and club sport space. We have seen a few US clubs sign up to our platform using only the website. This organic growth is really exciting as we build around it and start to build our presence.
As an Australian, how does it feel to come in and help lead and scale?
Australians are always very proud of what we export to the world, so naturally being able to work with an Australian company is a bonus for me. The majority of our team are all Australian so culturally it was easy for me to slot into the team. There are many successful Australian start ups that work in sports, and that is probably because we are successful on the world stage of sports for a small population. I would like to think that we are being taken more seriously as a start up nation, and I am looking forward to the challenge of scaling the company globally.
You have played sports in Europe, Australia, the US and all over the world. Why is sport the right area/market for this platform to launch?
Sport is a great place to start because it is an amplifier, for better or worse, because of the pressures of competition and expectation.
It is very common to see players who reach the pinnacle or who are tracking to become the best in their sports suffer burnout or depression because they can not cope with external pressures. I am a big believer that we can start intervening earlier to help individuals develop a healthier relationship with mental wellbeing. Moreover, I feel like athletes too often link their athletic achievements to their self-worth, and long term this is not a healthy connection to have. The person and the athletic achievements need to be separated as early as possible in order to have a healthy mental outlook on life.
You are familiar with AMS platforms in sports. How can iNSPIRETEK bridge the gap from those down to the grassroots level, while also providing new support and tools in mental health and wellbeing?
The majority of AMS platforms out there are expensive, clunky, and you need a sports science degree to get anything out of them. We believe that simple data is the most valuable, and for this to be useful it needs to come from the masses. We provide an affordable solution for clubs who might not have otherwise had an opportunity to interact with such software. Then you add our evidence-based content and automated intervention engine, and that is how we differentiate ourselves from the competition. It is not hard to see that mental health issues are rising and the support needed is simply not there.
Click here to read full release on iNSPIRETEK’s announcement of Rodney Rapson as new CEO.