Qatar Sportstech : 2 German Startups selected.

  • Enri Chantal Strobel, Founder and CEO of HorseAnalytics.

From wearable devices using cloud services and AI to immersive fan experience using 3D content, the sports-tech industry is showcasing what the future might look like in a digital journey towards a safer, fairer and more engaging sports industry. Following the introduction of virtual reality live coverage for the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic winter games, and the video assistant referee (VAR) during the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Qatar is next in line.

The idea is very simple. For the country, the objective is to become a world leader in the sports-tech industry. The recipe is also very simple, attract and invest in startups with innovative ideas. And so it began with Qatar Development Bank joining forces with the Aspire Zone Foundation, Ministry of Economy and Commerce, Qatar Financial Centre and Startupbootcamp to fund the Qatar Sportstech Accelerator. 10 Sportstech companies were selected for an intensive 3-month program that provides mentorship, personal office space in the Aspire Zone in Doha, seed capital and access to an international network of investors and corporate partners.

During the three selections days, we had the chance to meet and interview two German startups, with interesting backgrounds, projects and ideas.
Enri Chantal Strobel, founder and CEO of HorseAnalytics, a startup based in Hamburg, told us about her experience.

Did you get a chance to visit Doha yet ? And what are your first impressions?
I flew in on Saturday night, so I had the Sunday to meet people and just visit the beach and a little bit of the city center. Walking around was very nice. Everything is really clean and well organized. It is really enjoyable.

Let’s get straight into business, tell us more about HorseAnalytics?
At HorseAnalytics, we empower riders and caretakers of horses to use technology and improve the health, training and well-being of horses. We have a training app which uses the smartphone’s motion sensors to analyze training. You can see for example how much it did on your left and right hand, see a lot of analytic there and share it with other people. We have a second product which focuses on health monitoring for horses. This system can be installed in horse clinics. It can access the vital signs of the horse and alert in case of critical warnings.

Who is your product designed for?
We have a lot of horse enthusiasts. We have two different focus groups with our products. Private horse owners and horse clinics and stables.

Innovation in a field where traditions are very important may be very challenging, is this the kind of challenge you are facing ?
A big challenge for us is quite often hearing the sentence “It’s all very interesting but it is not something I would do in my generation. You are welcome to do this with the next generation coming up.” Fortunately, we didn’t get to hear this here so far.

Beyond the question of traditions, do you think that innovation is killing the “passion” for horse enthusiasts?
Some people think that technology makes you less actively feeling the horse, but I see it as a tool to understand it even better. It is not killing the emotion, but the fear is still present. Take the example of social media, you still can have a lot of interactions with people, you can stay even stay better in contact with them through technology. It’s just a tool.

The Sports-tech industry is growing in all directions, what trends do you see happening this year?
There are a lot of trends happening at the same time, most of them focus on improving the training, injuries and recovery time. I believe we will be seeing much of this happening in the horse sector as well, as it’s already the case in France. I hope we will see more of it in Germany as well. 

With over 330 Applications from all over the world, 21 Companies from Canada, Germany, Spain, Portugal, France, and Palestine made it to the last round, where they regrouped for a final round to be among the 10 selected startups for the accelerator-program. 20 mentors from various institutions, ranging from Qatar Science & Technology Park, Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, IBM, Aspire Logistics and Academy, Qatar Airways to incubators like Le Tremplin round up the table to advise, consult, support and mentor the finalist during a the selection days.

Part of your journey has brought you here today to Doha, how did you come up with the idea of participating here in Qatar?
It happened through a friend at the German Embassy in Berlin, during an event on sport diplomacy. We had a good conversation and later on we received an invitation to this program and we decided to apply.

The startups that make it through the final round today will be staying for the next three months in Doha. Did you come prepared to stay?
We definitely need to think through about how to go with it, we have a team in Germany, this needs to be organized. I probably wont be able to take my whole team here but it’s doable.

Just after our interview, HorseAnalytics was announced one of the contestants that made it through the selection process. Their incubation journey will start on the 10th of February. For three months they will be based in Doha and receive training and mentorship before a final demo day beginning of May.