SportXast Broadens the Playing Field for Student Athletes
Los Alamos startup’s innovative app helps teens share their own sports highlights
A boost of funding from a local organization that provides seed money for early-stage technology startups helped the founders of SportXast take their creation to the next level.
SportXast, an innovative app that lets anyone instantaneously capture the last eight seconds of a sporting event, was launched in 2013. The technology allowed an athlete’s parents, friends and others to capture, view and share video clips of the best moments in the game.
After its launch, SportXast CEO Molly Cernicek realized users wanted to do more with the videos they captured, so an online digital resume platform was built for teen athletes. Users can find clips taken with the app organized in a Game Clips library from their first game to their most important tournament. They can use these clips to create highlight reels in minutes and share them with everyone from proud grandparents to potential college coaches.
The goal has been to take as much of the time-consuming editing process out of capturing, sharing and repurposing video as possible.
In 2012, Cernicek learned about the Venture Acceleration Fund (VAF) when she pitched a different idea. The VAF is the only organization in Northern New Mexico that provides seed money for early-stage technology startups and growth-oriented businesses who lack the collateral for debt financing. Funded primarily by Los Alamos National Security (LANS), the VAF receives additional support from Los Alamos County, Santa Fe County, City of Santa Fe Economic Development and New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP).
After pitching her initial idea, Cernicek had a good idea of how the process worked, so she pitched the idea for SportXast the following year. Judges included community leaders and Lab experts. Soon after becoming an awardee, Cernicek discovered and was impressed with the reach and diversity of the program.
“It was a good representation of Northern New Mexico businesses, from entrepreneurs integrating more production equipment into their farms to scientists commercializing a Lab technology,” Cernicek said. “What makes the VAF so effective is that the program invests its funds into entrepreneurs and companies that can get to the next phase of their business with a small infusion of funding. Significant credit should go to VAF for being the catalyst for so many companies starting and growing in northern New Mexico. In a state that has so little funding for startups, VAF is a big deal to many entrepreneurs who are alive today because of it.”
VAF funding was key in helping the company build the first version of the SportXast app, with all funding milestones connected to the app’s development. Cernicek stated, “many people ask me how they can go about creating an app. They are under the impression that it is easy, fast and cheap. We integrated a process into our app to buffer and capture past activity. It was not simple to integrate it into the app. We recently were awarded a patent for the process.”
Cernicek has participated in several New Mexico events and programs, including ABQid, the Santa Fe Incubator, NMSBA, the Regional Development Corporation, Project Y and the Los Alamos Entrepreneurs’ Network. New Mexico’s entrepreneur network expands every year, creating more opportunities for those thinking about and committing to a new business.
“Every time you attend an event or workshop, you learn how the latest tools are effecting marketing and business strategy,” she said. “There’s always something new to learn and someone new to connect with.”
As far as what’s next for the company, Cernicek said that there are new opportunities presenting themselves to us as amateur sports video becomes more popular.
“The new channel platform makes it much easier to keep track of and share video,” she said.
Cernicek has stayed involved with the VAF award process and in 2015, she participated in one of the committees that decided who would receive funding that year.
“I’ve been on both sides of the table,” adding, “it’s easier to be a presenter than a judge.”
Her advice for prospective fundees? “The VAF provides enough capital for someone who is organized and committed to getting to the next level through building a prototype, adding a new component or something concrete to advance the business. In the past five or six years, the competition for the money has really increased. Sometimes people think that since it’s connected to the Lab, it’s grant money for a marketing study. Entrepreneurs should look at it as their your first round of capital. You need to have be in the mindset of how much you can accomplish with the capital and what you will be able to accomplish after you spend the funding.