Isaiah Kacyvenski  

Hello Hello. Welcome to the last day of sports technology summit here at CES. It's a pleasure to be up here with my co founder World Ventures, Brian Riley. And today we're gonna explore the next wave of innovation in technology and sports and really go beyond that of how to sports act as a lens to open up massive adjacent markets. And we've got four companies, four amazing companies up here that we're going to walk through and really kind of will ventures. We're early stage venture capital fund focused around this idea of how does sports act as a testbed to push into areas such as health care, all the way to fitness all the way to digital media has to act as a testbed that you can then push into large adjacent markets as well. And you think, you know, with these companies today, you'll kind of see some of that be able to walk through some of the major areas that we look at and some of the problems industry as you see technology really solving bigger and bigger problems around that. So that that will get kicked off, we're going to introduce Jonathan Shaiman and Carolina bars from fit by omix, a company focused on this intersection of biotech and nutrition. And in a way that's a true science backed approach in a world that is nutrition is long been kind of hampered as, is this snake oil, or is this real? And these guys have taken amazing approach. And I want these guys to kick off, really with a little little background, and then you know, kind of the idea and the origination fit by omix and kind of where you're at now.
 

Jonathan Scheiman  

Yeah, thanks, Isaiah, for having us here. It's a pleasure to be here in this last day. This event, so my name is Jonathan Scheiman, co founder and CEO fit by omix. I was like to start off you know, I'm a New Yorker. I was a former basketball player, played basketball at St. John's won a Big East championship. I didn't make the NBA so as a backup, I got a PhD in molecular biology. That's, you know, that's facts. You know, that's my story. That's how I became a scientist. I then did my postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School, I really tried to find a way to bridge my background in athletics and science together. And that's sort of how fit box was born. We're a biotechnology company. Basically, what we're doing is we're developing next generation probiotics that are unique or enriched in the most fit and healthy people in the world. And then we're translating that into consumer products that could really disrupt human performance and nutrition.
 

Carolina Barsa  

So my name is Carolina Barsa. So I'm not a former athlete, but I was a former engineer, which I think being at a tech conference is really exciting just to see the improvement of women's representation in this space. I think 33% are female conversation. speakers here. So it's very exciting. But my background is more in brand strategy and innovation. I've worked at various large CPG giants including Mars, dynoing and Unilever. really thinking about how to translate, whether it's a scientific discovery, or a product that can help fill a need, and really bring that to market so that it's delivered on consumer needs, and really helping disrupt the space. So excited to be here.
 

Brian Riley  

Awesome. So as he alluded to this a little, you know, early in his intro, you know, as a fun suddenly recover really closely as nutrition. And I think we're all seeing the landscape shift quite a bit, because we're going from what was traditionally a lot of marketing, maybe some snake oil in the space. And I think you guys represent a dramatic shift in that. Can you guys talk a little bit about what five fit bionics does and how you guys are different?
 

Jonathan Scheiman  

Yeah, absolutely. You know, again, so my background is more in biomedicine, biotechnology, molecular biology, genomics, and I think there's a it's an exciting time to be a scientist right now. And I think, you know, if you look at sports performance or even human performance or nutrition, no, I don't think there's a lot of you know, groups out there. They're actually looking at what's going on inside an athlete's biology in their body and of itself, how it changes over time, how it reacts to, you know, exercise stress and performance and recovery. And really what we're doing is we're using more of a biotechnology approach to analyze elite athletes biology, in particular, their microbiome. I think that's a pretty big buzzword right now. But basically, it's a community and collection of microorganisms in our body that greatly influences our health, our development, our functionality. And basically, you know, elite athletes, we're using them sort of as a proxy for understanding optimal health and fitness, seeing how their bodies work, the biology works, and then using that to sort of discover, you know, things that drive optimal performance, strength, mental toughness, recovery, endurance, and then from that science really use that to develop next runner generation products, not just for athletes, but, you know, basically the masses as well.
 

Carolina Barsa  

I think what's really exciting is that as you see the shift in what's happening in terms of sports, nutrition and solutions to address these needs, there hasn't been as much innovation or research around, really getting into all the unique people that are out there, whether it's by gender, by race, by sports by physiological aptitudes, I think what's really exciting is we're being we're able to take this almost personalized customization trend and be able to look at folks that are really healthy, and bring really unique products to market.
 

Brian Riley  

It's interesting, you just bring up there hasn't been a lot of research done in this area. And I think over the last decade, you know, we've seen a lot of wearables motion capture come into sort of the arena of sports and performance, but on the supplement space, there's really been few products that have really tangibly move the needle. But you guys, you know, you've been published in Nature magazine, you guys are had actual clinical findings. Can you talk a little bit about those findings and what they mean?
 

Jonathan Scheiman  

Yeah, you know, I think it's also just a notion of the maturation of certain technology. I always say this, you know, just from biological perspectives, the first human genome sequence was published in 2003. It's an endeavor that took 15 years and 3 billion dollars. Today we could sequence a human genome for about $1,000. And in two days, so that's a rapid acceleration in our ability to map, you know, our bodies, our biology and how that affects our human health. As you mentioned, you know, I did my postdoc in George churches lab. He's one of the founders of modern day genomics. And, you know, we did basically four years of research where we worked with marathon runners, ultra marathon runners, Olympic caliber rowers, and basically understanding how their microbiome changes pre and post exercise. We published that this past June and a lot of really cool and exciting discoveries, we discovered a bacteria that's naturally enriched in these athletes that eats lactic acid and can actually promote endurance. So a lot of this is sort of like looking at nature and biology and sort of form fits function and natural selection. And we're going directly to the source how these elite athletes perform in an optimal level. We're learning from that and we're using that to drive innovation and sort of nutrition and performance. I think
 

Isaiah Kacyvenski  

one of the interesting pieces as you talk about kind of form meets function, an area that we've recently is just a massive opportunity. And really there's there's some of the largest companies in the world world that are really approaching nutrition, specifically precision nutrition or personalized nutrition in a way that is unique. You guys are taking a very unique approach to that right, which is, you know, what exists actually in the human body? what works, what doesn't work? How do you test that how you bring science to the table around that? how, you know, when you look at the space and the industry, the personalization of that there's a lot of different ways to tackle the problem. But your guys approach can you talk about how very unique that is?
 

Jonathan Scheiman  

Yeah, I mean, again, you know, again, form fits function, natural selection, I want to be an NBA player, point 000000 1% of the population plays in the NBA. But again, as a scientist looking at selection, how do these athletes sort of make it to that level and again, directly going right into the source? I think the current paradigm in biotechnology now is like, let's look at this. physiology, what doesn't work? How can we correct it to promote health? I think what we're doing is an abundance approach. Let's look at the most fit and healthy people in the world. What does work from a physiological perspective? Can we understand that? Can we mind that biology? And then use that to drive for applications and endurance and performance and just not just athletics? In all honesty? How can we expand this and just branch it out to just general health and wellness? So I'm sure Catalina could talk about some of those opportunities as well.
 

Carolina Barsa  

I think what's really cool is when you look at the wellness industry, you're looking at a 40 plus trillion dollar economy. Within that $600 billion is just for preventative care. And I think consumers are becoming a much more holistic and forward thinking about what that means whether it's, you know, the sleep hacking, biohacking, and the role that your gut plays and everything, and the power of the microbiome has and everything you do from even for athletes, the importance of sleep, their ability to focus on how that means what that means for their bodies from a recovery perspective, and their diet, everything that's in their ecosystem. And their put Their bodies under a lot of distress. So I think what's really great about what we're bringing them and offering is that we're helping them with that solution with that path to being able to optimize their own microbiome to optimize their own biohacking, so that they can perform, they can recover, they can up their own performance, a level that maybe they weren't even expecting to. And so I think, being very holistic and awareness that's coming, you know, 70% of household Americans are aware of the role of the power of probiotics, I think there's still a big educational opportunity for us to continue to help them understand what's unique about various strains and what we're discovering, being able to really focus on where our probiotics come from. The fact that they're derived from athletes really sets us apart because we're able to take things that are really going to hone in on what their needs are.
 

Brian Riley  

It's interesting, you said a couple things there. One of the things you were talking about our athletes and some of the benefits athletes, and then you also talked about sort of mass market, and I think it's probably easy for people to hear the fit biomech story in here. endurance, inflammation. These are athlete problems, but they're also mass consumer problems, right? Something like inflammation matters to everyone. So can you guys talk a little bit about how fit by omix is, you know, starting with sort of the elite athlete, we're really going to address the mass market.
 

Carolina Barsa  

Absolutely. So I think, you know, our primary consumer who are early adopters are going to be those weekend warriors, the folks that are out there, you know, they had their nine to five job, but they're really focusing on improving their time improving their speed, whatever that is. And as we think about the role that they play from an influencer perspective, as well beyond, we have an ability to reach the mass consumer, help them think about how do I have extra energy to maybe to make it to the gym because I went to my gym class, now I'm sore, and I can't get up and work the next day. So you know, just even the simple things that everyone the number one resolution for the last five years in a row has been exercising more, and nobody sticks with it for more than two, maybe three months Max and that's pushing it and so for We can give them the opportunity in the ability of want to have the energy to stick with it, then I think that we can really make a difference in just optimizing health for people in general.
 

Jonathan Scheiman  

Yeah. And I just want to say, you know, you know, there's science and there's biology and there's functionality. I mean, just bigger picture. I think you look at sort of athletics as a medium to inspire people to unite people and really make a tremendous impact on our society. You know, again, like I didn't make the NBA, but I'm such a athletics and basketball fan. I became a scientist and I started a company just so I can work with athletes, right? So, you know, I think really what we want to do is we want to find a way to merge cutting edge technology with like pop culture, you know, and mass market mediums to really, you know, educate, inspire, but really, I think the big thing is making technology more accessible and also we want to take it beyond just Want to make it less passive? Right? You know, we don't want people to just watch athletes, right? We want to engage them. We want them to learn about athletes, and then how can they be better as people, you know, you don't have to want to, you know, you don't have to play in the NBA to want to be more fit to want to be more active to want to be more healthy, right? So we talked about sort of lactic acid metabolism, finding things and enriching ultra marathon runners that run 100 miles at a time. Okay, that's great. We're not going to be doing that in this room. But can I have a probiotic? That just helps me with my personal fitness? Can I be more active and it's, you know, sort of independent of age or sort of gradient scales, like, you know, again, I just want to be more fit more active and more healthy. So can we learn from Super fit people, and now apply that information to the masses.
 

Isaiah Kacyvenski  

You guys are creating and really tackling a market where, you know, kind of this intersection of sports technology and probiotics and in a way that's unbelievably exciting. You know, as you guys look at, you know, very bright future, what kind of lies ahead for you guys, what were the things that you guys are really passionate about in the industry. is as real kind of this audience something to think about.
 

Jonathan Scheiman  

I think we're excited. You know, we spent five years of r&d. You know, a lot of at Harvard, a lot of academic research, I spent 15, or 16. Lab years as a has a lab rat, as a research scientist, I'm super excited to be out of academia. You know, I'm excited to actually translate technology in science into something that's practical and accessible to all. So what we're really excited about the new year is, you know, this nature medicine paper, we published these discoveries we made at Harvard, we're now translating them into actual products that we're starting to beta test in the new year, and then we actually want to bring to market so again, making this technology accessible to the masses is something that we're really excited about.
 

Carolina Barsa  

And I think continuing to think about the portfolio of offerings that we provide, whether it's supplements to shots to food, snacks, whatever those formats are, that really become more accessible for the general population so that we are promoting health and wellness to the masses. 
 

Jonathan Scheiman  

Yeah, and then also finding a way I can actually finally make it to the NBA.
 

Isaiah Kacyvenski  

Well, thank you so much. It's been a pleasure to speak with you guys up here. It's gonna run an applause for Carolina and Jonathan here. Thanks again guys. Up next, we have Tyrre Burks is the CEO and founder of players hell, he's got an amazing background. Brian and I both being former athletes ourselves really passionate about really making sports safe and enjoyable and inclusive for all ages. And, you know, tyreese really tackled a large market, very complex problem bringing technology to the table in a major way. Now, thanks for thanks for joining us. We'd love to have you get a little your background, very unique background itself and then kind of really How players health came about. Absolutely.
 

Tyrre Burks  

So I always tell people, I'm an athlete down the core of who I am. I love everything there is about sports. I'm alive today because I play sports and I feel like I have a responsibility to give back to it. And so when I look at what we do with players health, and specifically focusing on youth sports, there's not one person in here that wasn't affected by sports in their life or did play. And I think that's a huge part of what we do here at players health. Before starting players health, I played professional football for a number of years. Majority of my career played in the Canadian Football League and throughout my entire career struggle with injuries. So how this all started when I was about 16, I got hit with my head down, paralyzed on our turf about 3045 minutes. Miraculously, everything kind of started to come back. I got off, walked off, Coach looked at me you had a stinger, we're going to put you back in and I was back in the next possession. Come to find out I had three bulging disc in my neck and then that led to a bunch of other injuries and so When I was thinking about players health, I had just tore my hamstring off my tibia, I was playing for scattering warfighters. And I didn't want to regular job. So I started looking at ways that I can make an impact in sports. And this was the height of concussion. Everyone was really started to look at how youth sports was managing the health and safety of athletes. And I just got tired of seeing the headlines, you know, USA Gymnastics situation or Penn State or a head or back concussion gone wrong. And so what we focus on with players health is creating the safest environment possible for an athlete to play sport. And we have created a kind of a one stop shop risk management firm that helps these organizations do that. But we offer them a liability coverage with their sports organization at a deeper discount based on how they implement those product protocols. Insurance is the largest expense for youth sports organization, and premiums are only Going up. So we want to help these organizations save money by doing the right things. And that's really how we came to kind of build.
 

Brian Riley  

And in this space today, right, so you talk about youth sports, of course, you're talking about sort of hyper local small organization, youth sports, resource constrained, what's the status quo? Is there looking at risk management insurance today? What are they doing today before players health?
 

Tyrre Burks  

That's a really good question. So I think one of the biggest misnomers in our space is that, yes, we know sports is large, but there's not a lot of money in amateur sports. There's over four and a half billion dollars of premium that's bought for insurance that's used for insurance to buy amateur sports and liability coverage for these organizations. So from universities, to the beer League Soccer softball league, to the youth sports organization, not one athlete is on the court field is without insurance. It is the largest expense for these organizations. And so the landscape that's happening right now is that those premiums are doubling if not triple All because insurance companies are not making as much money as they used to. We see a billion dollar liability claim for an abuse incident that happens with over 300 women. That is a catastrophic liability loss for an insurance company that is going to change the premiums for millions of athletes. And that's what's happening in the space for contact sports, like football, hockey, those premiums are skyrocketing. And then for anyone that has come in contact with a youth athlete, their abuse premiums are now going up. And so the reason why that's happening is because the insurer cannot predict the loss ratio for their for their book. They're going we don't know how to underwrite this anymore, because the way we used to underwrite it doesn't help us. We used to look at 10 years of claims for sports organization. Well, that doesn't help us understand that. There were incidents that happened over decades that now led to a big loss. They need to know Real time what these organizations are doing to mitigate risk? And we're here to help them do that.
 

Brian Riley  

It sounds like part of it the lack of data, right? Absolutely. Part of it's a lack of data on the organization side on understanding their own risk management. But then also on the underwriter side, or the insurance side understanding incident rate by geography by sport. It just doesn't exist, right, a lot of paper based. So can you talk about I mean, with you guys, if you're covering both accident and health, so concussion, soft tissue injury on one side, things like misconduct on the other? You must be collecting a lot of data, a lot of sort of disparate stakeholders. Can you talk about what data you're collecting and how valuable that is? Absolutely.
 

Tyrre Burks  

So I'll talk about some of the segments of data that we collect, and why this data is so important. Currently, right now, the largest youth injury surveillance study for an athlete on the 14 is only 2000 athletes. We have over 500,000 athletes on our platform, they retract injuries on and so when it comes to access to data around what environment we're exposing our kids to from a health and safety perspective. We don't have a clue. And so if I'm going to underwrite an organization based on how they manage that risk, I'm going to need information. We're one of the largest data sets right now that's focusing on an incident happening at a sports organization, that organization followed a protocol to ensure that that athlete was returned back properly. That's on the health and safety side, on abuse. There has never been a really a true reporting mechanism until the center of safe sport launched that was really looking nationally at abuse in amateur sport. Now, it may have happened within sports, swimming, hockey, that have had their own reporting mechanism. But nationally, we've never had the need at an optics level to go about and do this. Now. There's a new law called the safe sport act of 2017. That was passed last year, that forces us federally to now follow this law to now track these incidents. And so of course, we're seeing thousands of incidents coming We have to manage them. And players health is a huge part around helping these organizations manage the incidents that come through.
 

Isaiah Kacyvenski  

Yeah. And so you speak about kind of the digitization of a process. And what technology actually ends up unlocking, really creates a feedback loop that limits lag and allows things to really be addressed almost real time, right, ideally, is completely real time. But the ability to take a pretty antiquated processes, pen, paper, fax, whatever it may be, be able to, to really get ahead and address real problems. make that assessment. I mean, that's, it's pretty amazing, you know, kind of across the board. Can you talk about some of the, the broader applicability of what you're building as well?
 

Tyrre Burks  

Sure. It's, I think one of the thing that we're starting to see what our platform is that, yes, amateur youth sports has been kind of the bigger focus for us. That's where we feel like we can make the biggest impact the markets massive in terms of insurance premium That we can capture. But I think that's if we feel that that's where the biggest need. But this is a global issue. Every sports organization, whether it's pro and amateur, they all buy insurance. The market globally, is being affected by increased premiums. And it's not just sports, it's within liability and property and casualty with insurance globally, those premiums are going up because of forest fires. There's a lot of catastrophic losses that are happening globally. And this is affecting the global insurance market. The more data these underwriters and carriers have to better underwrite segment their risk, the better off we're going to be long term. And then when we think about sports, the reason why this is really important is that if we continue on the trend for premiums to rise, we have to increase registration fees. That means we limit access to youth sports, and we're starting to see this happening at scale where large, large local youth football programs are closing their shops because they cannot afford to put an athlete on the field. premiums for youth football right now can go from anywhere from 30 bucks a kid to as high as 100 bucks, depending on the loss, the loss history of that sports organization. If we don't fix this, it'll directly affect us sports as a whole. And I hate to sound dramatic, but it's truly it's it's a domino effect in terms of how we manage it. Risk Management is the key. And we've lived in the wild wild west for far too long. Now it's time to get process, collect data, and then help these organizations mitigate and manage risks long term.
 

Brian Riley  

And so as you talk about, okay, so there's, you know, there's this initial market within youth sports, which is massive, and it's, it's very antiquated, right? It's lacking good processes. beyond that. There's also these other general liability markets that could benefit or that's events or marathons or whatever it might be general liability thats related and even beyond that. What's the big vision for the company.
 

Tyrre Burks  

I think if you touch a youth athlete, not even an athlete, youth in general schools, the applicability for what we do is churches, you name it, we can impact those organizations because, sadly, the headlines are telling us where we should be focus our efforts. I think the local church is very vulnerable, and making sure that they have proper protocols and policies in place is seen, is this something that we must have, and I think these are some of the markets that we're targeting. But as I said before, it's a global issue, Jeff, definitely just not sports. But if I engage with youth in general, we want to make sure that these organizations are buttoned up. And the idea is that the revenue comes from what these organizations already spend money on within their insurance. And then the insurance company the relationship we have with the insurance company is that the more educated we have We can allow them beyond their risk, the more money they ultimately make, the lower those premiums will will go down.
 

Brian Riley  

Got it? That's, that's fantastic. And as you look at, you know, insurance in the space and how it's traditionally been handled, you know, are there other tech companies within youth sports that are really working on this or who has been working on this to date?
 

Tyrre Burks  

That's a really good question. In terms of kind of the competitive landscape in terms of what we're doing. I'd say right now, we're the only company that's viewing kind of risk management, and really trying to complete the value chain within insurance for sports. How can I take this data that we collect, get this over to the powers that be in terms of who's carrying the risk and make sure that these administrators also can put on a great experience for these sports organizations? It's a very complex problem to solve. And there are a lot of stakeholders that we have to kind of cater to, but the idea is that if we focus on what motivates everyone, I want I want athletic participation and go up, which means I need to make it accessible. And then as an insurance company, I need to make money, which means I need to understand the risk so that I can achieve a profit. Data risk management goes hand in hand to help both the administrator to tell the parent, you can trust us with your kid, you can choose our club over the club down the street, and then the insurance company could say, that's a good risk, you get a discount based on how you implemented these best practices, which allows you to now get more kids into your program. So it's a domino effect where where we can do good and do well at the same time financially.
 

Brian Riley  

And then I think to on the parent side, which we really haven't talked about, exactly. When you look at things like the concussion crisis and something like football, where you think about some of these big misconduct claims, like you mentioned the big debacle, US USA Gymnastics. I think those have had sort of a domino effect on youth sports. So for players health to be able to come in and be mission driven and say, we're going to help you manage this and provide a safe Your experience for athletes. That's the goal, right? Its participation.
 

Tyrre Burks  

It's about building trust parents at this point for certain sports, some sports have done an amazing job at garnering the trust of a parent. But there are some sports that haven't. And parents question whether they kids should be participating not in the club, but in the sport in general. And you have to be proactive in building that trust, and ensuring the parent that it's just not a pamphlet that we're sending for your kid to be a part of this. But we have mechanisms and tools in place, we're analyzing this data, we're constantly iterating on it, and it shows that we actually care about your kids. And that builds trust, which increases athletic participation. And so I think it comes into building the trust of the parent.
 

Isaiah Kacyvenski  

Yeah, one of the things you don't want to you know, one of the last questions want to ask is really around kind of your larger vision for for players health and ultimately, you know, we love you know, entrepreneurs in every single way, right You, you, you kind of need this kind of passion, energy, and you know, power of human will really to, you know, put a company on your back against you in the face of just immense odds, right? Find a way? Absolutely. you're passionate about it. What do you ultimately want to do with players? How what's your ultimate vision?
 

Tyrre Burks  

That's a really good question. I think one of the things I want is to create access to care for youth athletes. So we have athletes that on our system, if a parent, if an athlete gets hurt, I want to make sure that that parent knows exactly where they could take their kid. We want to make sure that we're that we send those kids through, they're getting the best care. And I want to make sure that they're getting the best health outcomes. And then I want to make sure that preventative is a big part of that. How can we help these organizations implement prevention programs that doesn't add more work? So when I look at the environment of an athlete, the end goal is that any sports organization that implements players health, we know that the environment that that I Leaders being exposed to is the most positive, safe environment that we can, that we are capable of providing. That's the goal. And so I want that to be the goal of every sports organization and not just be we had some cool jerseys. You know, we score, we want a lot of games, and then maybe the kids stopped playing sports, you know, when you know they were burnt out or something, I want to make sure that the environment that we expose our kids to are positive. Okay.
 

Isaiah Kacyvenski  

Well, thanks, ty. appreciate everything. We're excited to see what lies ahead for you. And thanks for coming out. Let's give them a round of applause. So up next, we'll jump right into it with the CEO and founder of playful it's really an Esports platform and a marketplace sitting at the intersection of technology and marketplace as well. Thanks for joining us. Can you can you give us a little bit of your background and kind of the you know, kind of the origination of playful and you know how it came about and a little about the company obviously, as well.
 

Patrick Lu  

Totally. So yeah, Hi, my name is Patrick, the co founder, CEO playful. And we're a platform where you can play games like League of Legends, and win real rewards like food, clothing, digital subscriptions. And we started playful, actually at UCLA. So I started with two of my friends there. And the reason why we started is because we're all gamers, and we love playing games, but they kind of waste your time, you don't really see much for in return. And you know, we spend time playing games where you could be studying or finding a job. And we actually call it gamer guilt. And so that's a pain that we feel very acutely. And so our mission at playful was to build a world where players purpose, because there's a lot of neuroscience that shows how the how beneficial play is for you. You learn strategy, resource management, you make friends now on games, and so we want to realign that value with your real life. And so we now give you rewards for doing Something you love, and so you can continue to play as well.
 

Brian Riley  

I love that. And, you know, as we look at this space, obviously you're building this massive advertising marketing, you know, marketplace essentially right for brands and gamers, traditionally, and what we've seen and we've noticed as a find is that your traditional brands and non endemic sort of Esports and gaming brands, they've had a hard time spending in this space or knowing how and where to spend in this space. Can you talk a little bit about that? And why that is?
 

Patrick Lu  

Absolutely. Yeah, I don't blame brands. It's extremely fragmented and complicated landscape, you know, you have games that are very new and already getting a global footprint that in the rules are all different, you know, gaming is not really on traditional TV. It's, you know, it's also the game's changed themselves, like the rules the champions. So it's an extremely complicated landscape. And, you know, that's where playful can really come in and help Usher brands to connect authentically with gamers in a way where they'll respond and actually, you know, pulled the brand into their lives for more. So it's just a really complicated landscape that's constantly changing.
 

Brian Riley  

Well, summer How? What are some of the ways that brands are spending day? Right, there's team sponsorship, there's to talk about some of those different ways that brands are already spending. What's the status quo?
 

Patrick Lu  

Yeah. So you got you name, the main one. So definitely sponsoring teams is huge tournament themselves. Also, you know, starting to deliver products to gamers at, you know, eSports events and things like that. But it's hard to track ROI. It's in some of those platforms. And so we we feel like getting direct to the gamers through their actual gameplay could be a more direct and powerful way.
 

Brian Riley  

And can you tell us what you said, you're measuring ROI. And that's always the big problem in sponsorship and advertising that's been going on for decades. Can you talk a little bit about how you guys are doing that for brands? Hundred percent?
 

Patrick Lu  

Yeah. So the way playful works is we actually work directly With the developers to track gameplay data for each individual game or on the platform, and when that happens, we send a reward to the player when they do something awesome. And so we can actually see engagement from a gamer all the way from gameplay to reward delivered in hand, and measure ROI directly, you know, through through that experience, then what we can do is then retarget, that same gamer over time, and actually measure the LTV over each game or over the lifetime of their engagement with the brand. So it's a pretty powerful mechanism.
 

Brian Riley  

So I'm a gamer, you can measure Okay, Brian's responding quite well to Nike or Coca Cola, and he's activating with these brands over time. And you can provide that data back to the brands so they can know to spend more time and energy on being totally
 

Patrick Lu  

Yeah, and you reduce waste too, because we match you with the people who actually want to learn more about you.
 

Brian Riley  

So you know, people in this space that would say, years ago, people would talk about in game advertising a certain Holy Grail, right something directly in the publishing itself for the game itself. What's wrong with that? Do you think that's, that's a not a good approach?
 

Patrick Lu  

Yeah, we feel that distracts from the organic gameplay experience, we really want to preserve that. And the publishers are aligned with us too. There's a reason why you don't see a lot of ads in League of Legends that, you know, actually you don't see any in there. So, there's better ways to wrap a brand into the life of a gamer and that's, you know, outside of the actual game experience when you want to support their lifestyle to become a better gamer. And you know, tying that back into sports too. There's so much we can learn from your nutrition exercise that you know, will make your gameplay better as well. Right as you strengthen your physical health, your mental health is is right there with it.
 

Isaiah Kacyvenski  

Yes, I want to jump around a little because something you had you brought up you you the ability to collect a lot of different data and kind of be able to use that data in a way that's, you know, transparent in the marketplace itself, I think is a unique model in itself. Can you walk through? Yo, yo, how you actually do that? Totally.
 

Patrick Lu  

Yeah, so like I mentioned earlier, we ingest a ton of gameplay data from the publishers themselves. Yep. And on top of that, we layer on demographic information that we take directly from the gamers. So, you know, we were very transparent with, you know why we would like to learn more about gamers some of their demographic info, and it's to give them better rewards. So the gamers really respond to authenticity. So they give that data to us as well. We also have social data. So through the API, we can actually see who you play with in these games. And then we can even tailor rewards for that experience. So if you play with your best friend all the time, we can give you a reward for like movie tickets, so you guys can go see the latest Star Wars movie or something. So we'd like to know it's all about data and we wrap that into a very personalized experience for each gamer.
 

Brian Riley  

You know, one of the things are, you know, we're talking gaming, we're talking eSports just for the general audience, we know that you're starting with eSports right, but more generally, it's sort of a gaming rewards platform, not an Esports rewards platform. What's the nuance? What's the difference? thinner? Right?
 

Patrick Lu  

Totally. Yeah. Yeah. So eSports is kind of like the tip of the iceberg. There's a whole, you know, population of gamers, you know, below that, who love gaming want to participate in that, but aren't quite good enough to be a pro. And so what with playful we, because we hook directly into the API, we can actually see gameplay for the entire iceberg, and reward gamers based off of their level of gameplay. So if you're just starting out with League of Legends, no worries, like, we will give you rewards as you you get better. And in return, this also helps people stay more engaged with the games so they don't, you know, fall off, and they don't leave, you know, League of Legends because it's too hard. You know, we encourage you to play and right loves that as well. And, yeah, we're very excited about that.
 

Brian Riley  

So something you just mentioned, you know, gamers falling off or getting burnt out of the game. Can you talk about you know, I think gaming fatigue, right? Something that you guys are helping to address and why publishers love it so much.
 

Patrick Lu  

Yeah, totally. So yeah, it's there's definitely fatigue, when you play games for a long time. And you know, you, you have to sit you have to stare at a screen for a long time. And so we're addressing that with promoting healthy habits and healthy products as well. So from nutrition to, you know, clothing to, you know, chairs, things like that. So, definitely, you know, take a lot of inspiration from sports and thank you guys for for leading the charge there. Because, you know, there's there's so much we can we can do to integrate gaming and, and sports. So, yeah, that in the second part, your question was,
 

Brian Riley  

well, I think I'm asking you so what is gaming fatigue? Right, folks? And I think you guys are saying, you know, now we're seeing increasing gaming fatigue within, in general, right. These are things that we hear from publishers like Activision, like riot, etc. Increasingly, people are burning out of games faster. And so for them to be able to hold a character consumers and say, here's another way to incentivize you through rewards. That seems like a pretty sticky consumer experience. Totally.
 

Patrick Lu  

Yeah. And the data shows that, you know, real rewards incentivize retention. So we actually increase the average game hours played in League of Legends by 11%, which is huge. And so, you know, publishers are very excited about this dynamic and we're excited that players get to play more.
 

Isaiah Kacyvenski  

So while we're on those, you talk about kind of pain points, you know, kind of even taking a step back pain points overall in the industry, right? If you think about kind of EA Sports, is there any other areas that you've kind of identified either now or kind of grow in the future that are you know, very, very in that same vein of gaming fatigue, but something you see that needs to be addressed either through technology or other solutions, people around the around the industry, etc.
 

Patrick Lu  

Totally. So a big point is monetization. There's so many people brands, professional sports teams that want to get into eSports. But don't have a very clear way to get in and also an authentic way. And so with playful, we believe we're addressing both of those points by connecting them directly to gamers based off of the personalized personalized gameplay, and then also delivering rewards and selling rewards directly to gamers in an authentic way. So yeah, we believe those are the pain points.
 

Brian Riley  

And today, you guys are offering direct rewards, you know, in five years from now, what is playful look like? What's your longer term vision with the platform?
 

Patrick Lu  

Totally. So yes, we believe we're going to be a platform that works with multiple publishers, multiple games, even games that haven't been released yet. And even beyond that, we have a digital currency to that we believe that can be used to reward any type of digital engagement. And so whether you're streaming or reading an article, we believe that is going to be a really powerful driver of a network effect where if somebody has a You know, our currency, they can then get rewarded with, you know, tons of rewards from Yeah, food, ecommerce, retail of goods. And we have, we're really excited about that currency too.
 

Brian Riley  

So a place where I can go and essentially manage my rewards on a platform, a third party platform. So publishers are happy, I'm not in game, consumers are happy, right? I'm not taking breaks from the game that I'm playing. So in some ways, it mirrors a lot of what folks like American Express, or any of these other large sort of the pioneers of rewards did previously. Right? Absolutely.
 


Patrick Lu  

Yeah, it's like a membership rewards platform. And we're going to be a very fair and neutral and transparent party and allow people to play safely and you know, really discover brands that they love in a very non, you know, not not a high pressure way. That makes sense.
 

Brian Riley  

And do you think as that platform continues to you guys continue to execute on that, and all these various point solutions for advertising And eSports you know, the landscape at large? Do you see that remaining fragmented over time? Do you see it consolidating over just a few different types of solutions? Or more just around these rewards platforms? How do you see the landscape looking or maturing?
 

Patrick Lu  

Yeah, so we definitely were just at the beginning of gaming and eSports, I think there will still be, there will continue to be fragmentation for, you know, maybe the the next five, five ish years, but I think there are really strong players emerging that will kind of start to dominate and take over the, you know, different areas of Esports. And then the network effects will kind of solidify their their role. So it's still kind of the Wild West, but definitely wants to get it now. Because you can then shape the future and hopefully become, you know, one of the pillars of Esports.
 

Brian Riley  

And what kind of other what other models do you see today that you think will also become a pillar like a rewards program?
 

Patrick Lu  

Yeah, so I think definitely different ways to manage the gap of fan engagement. So, you know, there's tons of great pro players in, you know, they're they're really kind of the celebrities of the sport, but it's really hard to get access to them as a fan and you see twitch chats kind of like they're all over the place. Right. So I think if there's different ways to bridge that gap and for for fans to engage more directly and authentically, as well with, you know, the pro players, I think that's going to be huge
 

Isaiah Kacyvenski  

As you look at, I'm curious to get your thoughts around kind of, you know, not having too much time left, but your high level thoughts around, you look at the evolution of game creation itself. Any areas that would be addresses the kind of years of your insights that you feel like the games are going to skew more towards you have existing franchises that around for a long time, by gamers on those as well, but you're kind of any trends or areas that you see as the air This is gonna be explosive opportunity.
 

Patrick Lu  

Totally, yeah. And I'm a Really big fan of what Riot is doing right now. They just announced eight new games, you know, in addition to the League of Legends, all those different genres are going to be, you know, huge in their own right. So I definitely think that, you know, launching these products quickly, you know, doing a lot of player testing will help refine those genres of games coming out. But I definitely I think Riot is done a really good job recently with, you know, leading the charge there.
 

Isaiah Kacyvenski  

Well, thank you, I appreciate everything, excited to kind of see where everything leads for the future for you. Let's give a round of applause for Patrick. So coming up next, we'll will flow right into it. We're gonna bring out Julie Johnson, the CEO of armored things and really kind of a play that where cyber security meets physical, physical skincare security, and I'll have Julie walk through her her background and really where We're armor things, looks at, you know, smart venues as a ultimate lens to open up massive market and IoT.
 

Julie Johnson  

Yeah, absolutely. Thanks everyone for making it to the last session on this stage. Just for the record, these chairs are as comfortable as they look. For those who've been wondering all week. So my background was actually in traditional finance, I worked in trading way back in the day and investment management before reinventing myself in the word world of venture capital. So those of you who've been in the tech ecosystem for a long time can understand how someone who ended up in the world of venture capital suddenly got the itch to start something. And I was really lucky because I met one of my co founders when I was at Qualcomm working in their VC arm. And the research we were doing at Qualcomm actually, is what partly inspired us to start the company that is armored things today. So just at a very high level, armored things is trying to revolutionize the world of security and operations, for large venues with what we call crowd intelligence. So understanding people in flow, using these patterns and trends to spot anomalies, and really transform the way that decisions are made, and your operations are optimized in these venues. The path was a little bit circuitous to get here, though, because we got our roots thinking about the Internet of Things and cyber security. So we really got pulled into the world of physical security, as we were thinking about the proliferation of devices for the venue in the enterprise, you know, very similar to what fitmom X was saying about the increase in ability to gene sequence over time. You know, I think there's a similar Moore's Law type principle with the proliferation of IoT and the the inexpensive nature of these sensors. And that really is caused tons of data and devices to come into these environments that we're now harnessing to do security differently.
 

Brian Riley  

So, you know, today's world, unfortunately, physical security has had to become such a priority for businesses, right. And I think we're seeing businesses willing spend the money to secure the places we go to work or to be entertained. And that, of course, has moved into sports stadiums. Right. So can you talk a little bit about how sports stadiums you know, think about security today?
 

Julie Johnson  

Right, you know, so, for better for worse, the large venues where we all go to enjoy concerts and events and games, I really thought of as being hard targets, right? These are places where thousands upon thousands of people gather, and for people who want to do harm. Unfortunately, it's not that hard, as we've seen with the Las Vegas shooting a few years ago, and certainly events like Ariana Grande and Manchester. I think venues are increasingly becoming aware that their security is not just what's within the four walls of their venue, right. So if I'm running security, now I'm starting to think about my public transit. I'm starting to think about other factors that might cause people to be in a bottleneck outside my venue because I don't really want that right. I want people coming to my venue, getting in the doors seamlessly being in my security. perimeter and having a really positive experience so that they're a fan for life. They're coming back and enjoying it. So I think, you know, security is something people don't love talking about always in venues. But it really is the lifeblood of the sport. It really underpins the whole experience of the sport. And so when we started talking to venues, we learned very, very quickly that it wasn't just university campuses, and K 12 that needed a better security solution, but also these large venues.
 

Brian Riley  

So what do you guys offer to venues? How do you help them manage their security?
 

Julie Johnson  

Yeah, so we we actually harness data that already exists. And not everyone loves talking about the fact that there's cameras deployed and Wi Fi. We're picking up information about people, but we're doing it all anonymously. So we're thinking about these patterns of behavior where people are down to a very granular level, so that we can spot a hotspot or a bottleneck or someone in a critical area, like a locker room where you might not want them after hours, and help alert our security or ops people so they can take action real time. So we're giving them a dashboard, we're giving them a mobile tool. alerting in some report so that they really understand how their spaces used.
 

Isaiah Kacyvenski  

You have any kind of idea or ideas, got case studies, you know, knowing that guys have gone out and really approach the market in a very unique way. Sure, you've got a couple of, you know, great examples. But if you share one of them or or two, that'd be great.
 

Julie Johnson  

Yeah, I'll give you one that always surprises people. We started working with a major university about a year ago where we're now covering over a million and a half square feet indoor and outdoor on that campus, across athletics, academics, residential and more. The first building they asked us to do was their library. We said, Why do you want us to do your library? It's a you know, it's a university campus and they said, Well, we've had thefts and assaults. And we the police of this university, believe we should be closing down this library overnight. And today it's open 24 seven for student success. And they were really surprised to find out through our data that actually existed in their systems already. The library was was the most full and as midnight to 4am out But they couldn't see people because they were tucked into back study rooms or tucked into classrooms that they thought weren't being utilized. So we were able to disprove that notion and allow them to leverage that data to actually fight for more after hours, personnel of that venue. Another kind of interesting insight that's not our core, but shows you the value of this data, is they were sending their cleaning crews at 1am. Right paying double time, how do we get our cleaning crews their window into their, they actually could be sending those crews at 9am when there was no one in the library. Any of us who went to school, I think find that quite intuitive. But, you know, for better for worse, that wasn't how they were running it before they had our data. I think there's another great one from an MLB venue we work with where we had I'll call it an anomaly early in our deployment there where we saw a surge of fans coming into luxury suites and you know, we flagged it we said this is not the traditional game pattern where people come in and buy a beer and then go to their seats and then leave. So what's happening and we spotted a rain delay 10 minutes before it occurs. Because people came running back into the suite, as the temperature dropped, started to drizzle, and they were all buying more beer, you know, the concessions, folks want to know about this. Other folks want to know about this. And for us, the interesting insight and value is not that we saw a rain delay, it's that the fans who came back into the suite didn't go back out to their seats, they tended to leave because it was around the six or seventh inning. And now we could probably optimize our security, staffing. Who's at the gates, how many food and beverage people we need to have? Because it was a late in game game delay. So now we're talking a real revenue, you know, potentially generating or cost savings mechanism for them.
 

Brian Riley  

It's interesting, you bring that up, because of course, we started with security. But another great thing that you can offer to venues and physical spaces is revenue optimization. Yeah, I know, this is something that, you know, we've thought quite hard about our friends at the sports Innovation Lab have covered which is venues are trying to understand who's going into their venue, who their fans are, where they're spending time so they can better monetize them. Can you talk about bit about, you know, different ways that you help venues with us.
 

Julie Johnson  

Yeah. And I think you know, you guys and sports Innovation Lab are being really thoughtful about the journey of what's being called the fluid fan, right, your fan today doesn't buy a ticket and go to their seat and then leave at the end of the game. They're looking for these immersive spaces and places where they can have an experience with their friends or family. And I think that's really impacting how we dwell in venues. You know, fortunately for us, we're in a position to show you where people are spending their time, and where you know how that impacts the utilization of your venue. If you think down the road, how does that help us design a different type of venue? How does that help us ensure our venue differently, right, what are the things that we can avoid the pitfalls we can avoid? So certainly, you know, we're an early stage company, about three years old, but really, we've had a product for about two years. We still have a lot of work to do in proving out these revenue use cases. But the folks who understand the power of this data, I think you're going to end up having an edge that others will be quick to follow.
 

Brian Riley  

Are there alternatives today? Do venues already collect some of this data? or do any of this today?
 

Julie Johnson  

Yeah, it's interesting. There's some point solutions built for very different purposes, but that are certainly gathering data from these venues. So, you know, I think there's a few that do line counting around beer and bathrooms, and that's really valuable to the consumer experience. There's also some security companies that are point solutions for better VIP access, you know, I'm thinking of clear and companies like that, that are trying to help you get expedited entry into the venue, if you're willing to set up your profile and, and go through their process. I believe we'll continue to see these point solutions, but we're armor things comes in is we're really trying to take a platform based approach any data you have, whether that's about you know, people buying tickets and what you're expecting for occupancy or something that can tell us if whether it's going to impact our game we want to pull that in and help you be predictive about your space so you can plan and make decisions for
 

Isaiah Kacyvenski  

you guys, you know, guys, you go through this process and go through the sales process, everything else and really embedded within the organizations that do you guys see yourself as kind of a seamless way to interact with from the security team to the operations and back and forth? Because I know it's, it's tough on both sides.
 

Julie Johnson  

Yeah, we find ourselves bridging a lot of gap sometimes. And, you know, I think we're very fortunate that we've had some great champions who are tech, early adopters, people who really understand the power of data, either from their sports organization or from prior industries, you know, sports, before Moneyball didn't always have an analytics guy didn't always have a CIO, this is still relatively new. So now we're pushing that wave even further and saying, your security team whose real time analytics consists of walkie talkies, and watching video monitors, in many cases, could do something that's very, very different from how they think about their operations today. So I think every every time you build a bridge, someone else might be trying to prevent you from building it. But I think we're really getting there. My hope is that we're getting there. And you know, obviously, the goal is that we make it a safer experience for every Everyone. So there's a lot of benefit to trying to do that with a mission orientation.
 

Brian Riley  

Obviously, there's there's, you know, difficulties or challenges whenever you're thinking about IoT at a big scale, right. And I think earlier, you brought up an interesting example, you brought up a library. We're talking a lot about stadiums. But again, referencing our good friends at the sports Innovation Lab, something that we've talked about is that, you know, the smart venue is really such a great proxy for the Smart City. Right? Can you talk a little bit about what that means and what that means to armored things?
 

Julie Johnson  

Yeah, we believe that the smart venues have critical need today to do security better, so they're in a great position to test and adopt our solution. However, a smart venue looks a lot like a smart entertainment district or a casino, you know, all these venues that we've been in today, bring tons of people into distributed environment, with lots of technology, and few people in charge of running their security and operations. So there's a lot of shared characteristics that we're trying to leverage across these different verticals over time. You know, as an early stage company, you always have to focus a little bit. So certainly, we're spending a lot of our time in the large venue space and with key university campuses and corporate campuses. But there's a ton of appetite, you know, from folks spanning from health care, to airport to gaming and lodging, to really understand human behavior. And they don't necessarily need to know who you are. I think the exceptions to that are a lot of the retail use cases where they want to re identify you and push you a coupon but particularly for security, I care more about if something happens, how do I know where people are, and get them assistance as quickly as possible than I do? You know, knowing exactly who that is, for a particular reason.
 

Brian Riley  

And so as you think about, you know, large scale campuses and venues and sort of moving downward from Sports into these other markets. Can you name a few of these other attractive markets, you name gaming?
 

Julie Johnson  

Yeah, so a lot of it is the large shared environments. So I mean, public open spaces is one I care a lot about. We actually just want our first phase one airport. contract and clearly with some of the events in in Florida and in Hawaii recently, there's a lot of work that could go into making those bases safer for our troops, you know, at home and overseas, truly. So I think there's a lot of opportunity in these large spaces where people gather. But it's not limited to that. We're getting a lot of pull into the opposite end of the spectrum, right, the K 12 schools, you know, everyone here cares a lot about keeping kids safe, right? How do we make sure that they're not being left behind when new technology exists, because of budgets. So we have this mission someday, to give away our software for free to K 12 schools. Obviously, we need to build a successful business to be able to do that. But that's something that really motivates our team, not just for the big venue but but thinking about the people who might not otherwise get access to technology.
 

Isaiah Kacyvenski  

As you go into you know, kind of different spaces talk to different people. Is there something that keeps coming up over and over again, as you do this seems almost like a no brainer across the board. It what's the what's your potential hesitation. Or maybe hesitation you're starting to see die down or change over time. What do you see changing over over time? Does that happen?
 

Julie Johnson  

It's interesting because when we first started talking to venues and different customers, a lot of them said, you know, this sounds really great. But I don't have any Internet of Things devices, you know, I don't have anything creating data. And then you start having a conversation with them about all the various ways that they're creating and collecting data. And suddenly, they're saying, Oh, I actually have a lot of data. And that was an initial barrier for us. And we learned, you know, we really need to get away from the narrative about the things themselves, and focus on the data, because I think people do understand that there's tons of data that they can use. Usually, they're trying to use it for fan experience in these kinds of things. But also, security would be a great byproduct of that data. So that one's somewhat going away. And I think we're going to continue to see the prolific proliferation of this kind of technology, in venues and particularly, I think it will expand to some of the big more temporary events like festivals or you know, outdoor amphitheaters, where you might not be necessarily have a permanent build. But you definitely want to make sure people are safe and having a positive experience.
 

Isaiah Kacyvenski  

Right. I want to thank you specifically for enjoying your honeymoon at CES, which is pretty impressive. I think it says a lot about your commitment to your company and to technology or technology overall. So not to embarrass you, but I think that's pretty amazing. Across the board has been amazing CES.
 

Julie Johnson  

What can I say? It's like 300,000 people came every night.
 

Isaiah Kacyvenski  

Graduation has been great. With old entourage that up here. You know, excited to watch everyone over time and continue that conversation. Want to thank you guys for for showing up today. And it's been a great CES. Thanks again. Let's give a round of applause for Julie.  So that concludes the session. Thanks

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