Player’s Health, a Twin Cities firm that is creating an app to keep track of young athletes’ injuries, on Wednesday won the top award at a competition Google Inc. hosted in San Francisco for technology start-ups.
The company, which is based out of the CoCo work-sharing space in northeast Minneapolis, finished atop a group of 11 companies that presented in front of about 100 Silicon Valley investment firms at Google Demo Day.
The group of presenters had been whittled down from dozens of other companies in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. No money came with the prize but the event represented a prime opportunity to raise funding.
Steve Case, founder of AOL and one of the three judges, announced at the event that he would give $100,000 to any of the 11 presenters able to raise $1 million in the next 100 days. To be part of the competition, the firms had to be seeking their first round of outside investment, referred to as “Series A” funding.
Player’s Health faced a wide variety of competition, including Texas tele-health company Chiron, and Tizkka, a Mexico City company that seeks to build an online fashion community.
Members of the CoCo community in northeast Minneapolis gathered to watch a live stream of founder Tyrre Burks presenting at the Google event.
Mary Fallon, co-founder and chief creative of Kidizen, said the opportunity to present at Google Demo Day, which Kidizen was a part of in its inaugural year, is an important opportunity to get a seal of approval from some of the top leaders in the tech industry. “When other investors see that Case has faith, it’s an endorsement,” she said.
Burks, who is also chief executive of Player’s Health, formed the company to build a platform that helps parents, coaches and doctors monitor a young athlete’s health. He enlisted doctors, coaches and tech experts to develop a product to communicate better about past and current injuries to prevent injuries, help teams follow correct procedures for recovery and eventually help educate coaches and organizations on how to best avoid injuries.
The program works by creating a profile for each athlete that is controlled by a parent or guardian, Burks said. The account contains medical history, including injuries, allergies, conditions and any medications being taken. The person in charge of the account is able to give the player’s coaches access to add any injuries or incidents that occur during practice or games. When a coach updates the report, the player’s parent is notified and advised to visit a doctor.
“We manage not just injury, but record proper diagnosis and when they can come back,” Burks said. “We need an app that collects this info to better understand the environment and how to make it safer.”
The player’s profile isn’t just limited to their medical information. It also includes the type of field they are playing on, what equipment they were wearing and the location of an injury. Burks said he hopes the information can be used to give personalized feedback to individual organizations about what types of conditions are most likely to cause an injury.
Homegrown Lacrosse, a Minneapolis-based lacrosse league, is one of the groups that Burks recently brought to Player’s Health.
“We wanted to know how it could help with both efficiency and safety,” said Jesse Brown, program director for Homegrown Lacrosse.
The league won’t start recording injuries until June, but Brown said officials are in the process of getting everyone into the system. Burks said the company requires 100 percent participation from the league and added that Player’s Health has turned down an organization that only wanted single-year usage or partial participation.
Brown said the lacrosse league has always been focused on injury reduction, but the program allowed them to simplify many procedures already in place.
Brian Edwards is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.