If you follow sports even a little, you know the influence of analytics and data has changed the way sports works. As teams build bigger and bigger analytics departments, and data becomes tied to on- and off- field decision making, how do teams deal with the growing amount of data?
Zelus Analytics, a company started by a former baseball analytics executive, wants to help teams across sports gather the myriad of data and put it to work.
Today, the company announced a $3.6 million investment, which includes money from existing investor RedBird Capital, along with participation from Gametime Capital, Teamworthy Ventures, 35V and Billy Beane, the former Oakland A’s executive, who was featured in the 2003 Michael Lewis book about bringing analytics to baseball, Moneyball.
Zelus works with analytics groups across a variety of sports to help them connect to various data sources these teams have to build models with the goal of making better decisions, whether that be around player acquisition, on-field decision making or the multiple factors that go into building and running a sports franchise.
Company co-founder and CEO Doug Fearing knows from whence he speaks when it comes to sports analytics. His background includes stints as senior advisor in baseball research and development for the Tampa Bay Rays and director of research and development for the Los Angeles Dodgers, two MLB franchises who are known for their keen use of analytics.
“We fundamentally help teams use their data to win more games,” Fearing told TechCrunch. That involves projecting and improving player and team performance.
“And that’s through using all of the complex proprietary data sources that teams have access to build models that contextualize historical performance, that project future performance that help with both strategic decision making around player acquisition…and then even getting into tactical and in-game decision making like who’s the best matchup,” he said.
He says what separates his company from others in the space is that it doesn’t care where the data comes from. It can pull it all together. “We have a robust data engineering pipeline that we have set up across sports that actually shares a lot of common infrastructure across sports that allows us to ingest those sources and process them on a daily basis,” he says.
For now, the company is making money working with teams in six major sports including baseball, basketball, hockey, football, cricket and soccer. With the investment, they plan to start thinking about how to expand that vision to areas like college sports, eSports and even making their platform available directly to consumers, as in individual athletes.
“I think there’s a general feeling from our investors, that the value of the IP that we’ve developed on the pro side is incredibly high, and they would in fact like us to move faster in terms of monetizing that IP in these other spaces,” he said.
“We’ve been fairly conservative in that the majority of our development efforts have been on the pro product. This raise is really allowing us to investigate these other opportunities.”