Click here for Part 1 Bringing advanced technology and data analytics to running and other recreational sports Jason Kaplan is the CEO of Milestone Sports. Milestone brings wearable sensor technology and big data analytics together to create a revolutionary platform for consumers, retailers, advertisers, and manufacturers involved in the recreational sports market. Jason founded the company in 2012 out of a desire to provide athletes with insight into their performance that products like GPS watches and training apps could not capture. Since then, Milestone has gone on to win recognitions such as “Best Consumer Goods Company,” a title it received at the 2015 Maryland Incubator Company of the Year Awards last June. The company’s first product is the MilestonePod, a device that tracks runners’ mileage, pace, form, and other detailed data. Prior to founding Milestone, Jason was vice president of business development at Sensics. Tell us about your flagship product. JASON KAPLAN: It’s called a Milestone Pod. This is the consumer piece. The idea is that you walk into my store and I can sell or even give this to you. We retail these for $24.95, which—when you think about other wearable technologies out there, or other high-end tools for runners, they’re often in the hundreds of dollars. And we’re providing information with this device that sometimes you cannot get even from a watch or a sensor that might be $400. The consumer gets the device. We want it to be really invisible for them. They lace it on to their shoe, they connect it over Bluetooth to a free mobile app, and then they just run. You don’t have to push a button, you don’t have to recharge anything; it works inside, it works outside; you just go run. And then, when you’re done running, you sync the pod to your phone and you get information, again, that you can’t get from any other devices. Some of that includes things like pace and distance and “how long was I running,” which you get from multiple sources. But it will also tell you “how hard is your foot striking the ground?” It will tell you if you’re landing on your heel or midfoot or your toe. It will tell you how far your leg swings back toward your rear end. All of those things are really important for healthier and higher performing running. So that’s the consumer experience. The information goes from the device to your phone, and of course up to the Cloud. At the same time, we give the retailer a tool we call Milestone Connect. With that tool they’re able to enter queries so that they can communicate with you at the right time. They don’t actually get to see the customer’s personal information, but let’s say they bought 100,000 devices from us: they can enter a query that says whenever any pod hits 350 miles, send them a discount of 10% and an offer to come back and to replace their shoes. And now, all those 100,000 devices that they’ve sold or given away, the moment they cross 350 miles, automatically get an offer that it might be a great time to replace the shoe. But it’s also about advice and performance. So they can also enter a campaign that says, “Hey, if your rate of impact is high for more than 30% of your foot strikes, come on back to the store and let us give you a training run and try to help you run healthier.” Or “click here to watch a video that our run experts created on how to run lighter and decrease the probability of your getting injured.” So it’s really about continuing to offer high levels of service that are very focused on a one-to-one way on what’s happening with me in the moment, and giving me the right message, whether it’s coaching or whether it’s marketing. With all the data you’re collecting, have you seen any positive correlations between people who use the Milestone Pod and better performance or safety? It’s hard to say yet that we can say that people who run with a pod get injured, you know, 40% less than people who don’t, or people who run with a Milestone Pod run 40% faster than people who don’t. We do believe that data is going to be one of the most valuable if not the most valuable asset of the company, and if you look at our revenue models and our projections it’s really all about data and data services. I can add that we have a set of data that just hasn’t been collected to date. So, when you register for our app, we know your height, weight, your gender, your age, and then you actually register the specific shoes. We know if you are running in a Saucony Kinvara or we know if you are running in a Newton Fate. So today, our little company, with three minutes of running and walking track, probably knows more about people running in Brooks, or ASICS, or even Nike or Under Armour shoes than they do because we have got devices out collecting data from them every day. So those metrics will come, whether it’s about shoe performance, athletic performance, that’s a big, big focus of ours and we are excited to be able to start to share some of that data soon.
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