In the heart of Ori Levy’s entrepreneurial journey lies Strikeco, a groundbreaking venture that transcends the boundaries of traditional tennis training and playing. The collaboration with tennis veteran Yoni Willand sparked a vision to transform how tennis enthusiasts practice, learn, and compete.
What started as a conversation about shared passion and innovation culminated in creating a tennis simulator that seamlessly blends virtual and physical hardware and software, redefining the landscape of tennis training.
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Early Years in Israel
Ori grew up in Israel as the oldest of three boys. His father, Jacob Levy, was one of the pioneers of market research in Israel; he owned the Israeli branch of the global Gallop organization based in the US. Both of Ori’s parents worked in the business for 30-something years until they sold it to a global organization.
They also worked for the Israeli Chief Scientist Office. Growing up, Ori used to work a lot in the office and spent almost every holiday or summer vacation working, not for the money, but because he truly enjoyed it, learning new things, influencing decisions, and making valuable interactions.
Ori did a lot of research work for the office. This experience gave him exposure to the world of innovation, how to approach new product developments, how to market them, and how to develop world-class innovations and inventions.
Spending time at the offices, Ori performed tasks like typing in questionnaires, doing interviews, and participating in meetings–all of which gave him insights into running a successful business.
He recounts how his father was an influential person, very smart and charismatic, an edge that gave him the opportunity to interact with high-profile businessmen and politicians.
Army Stint and the First Intifada
An important lesson Ori learned from his father is that entrepreneurship is just 5% about ideating; the other 95% is about execution. The older Levy was very visionary; he came up with many innovative ideas but was not really into executing them.
Right out of college, Ori joined the army and experienced the First Intifada, seeing many things that made him grow up quickly. After leaving the army, he went back to college to do his Master’s in marketing and finance.
Starting and Exiting Trendum
The idea for starting Trendum came from a story his father once told him about meeting a guy during his time at UCLA. This man predicted trends by measuring the column space a news item received. The number of inches devoted to a particular company served as an indication of its viability.
Ori started Trendum when he was just 24 years old, in early 2000, during the dot.com bubble burst. Many of the services became digital and automated; social media only had discussion boards and chats.
Ori realized the opportunity to develop technology that could measure word of mouth and recognize patterns and trends.
In the initial stages, Ori sold research works just to finance the company. His first clients were Teen, People Magazine, HBO, and CNN. But his big break came when he met with Nielsen to pitch for funding and walked away with $6M.
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There was no looking back after that because having Nielsen as an investor opened many more doors for him. Later, Trendum entered into a deal with Buzzmetrics and Intelliseek for a three-way merger.
Eventually, they sold the company to Neilsen for an incredible amount of over $100M. However, Ori remembers the investment banking firm Lehman Brothers, valuing the company at $400M.
Ramping Up Pomvom
Ori’s next stop was at Pomvom, which he joined just a month after its establishment. 4 years later, the company went through an IPO in Israel and just signed an LOI to enter into the NASDAQ through SPAC, valued at $123M.
Pomvom is a digital platform that seamlessly connects guests to media of themselves captured by park or venue cameras.
Ori joined as an active chairman and investor. Although the company has great technology, it targets a very hard-to-penetrate market. Ori reveals that tenders go out every 3 to 5 years with a very competitive bidding process, especially without personal relationships.
However, one of the company’s biggest competitors filed for bankruptcy during COVID-19. Eventually, Ori led the process of buying the company from the administration for around $2M.
The Genesis of Strikeco
Strikeco’s inception was an amalgamation of Ori’s newfound love for tennis and Yoni Willand’s decades of experience in playing and teaching the sport.
The idea sprouted from Ori’s realization that traditional tennis training methods were limited and the existing technology lacked the dynamism required to effectively engage players of all levels.
Intrigued by Yoni’s vision of a tennis simulator, Ori’s curiosity peaked. The potential to create a platform that could not only enhance individual skills but also foster a global community of tennis enthusiasts resonated with both of them.
Thus, Strikeco was born—a venture set to revolutionize the way people approach tennis.
The Strikeco Experience: More Than Just a Game
Unlike conventional tennis training tools, Strikeco offers a comprehensive experience that goes beyond the physical act of hitting a ball. At the core of Strikeco’s innovation is a tennis device connected to a TV, reminiscent of a Peloton but tailored for tennis aficionados.
This device holds a real tennis ball, and players use their own rackets to strike the ball, mimicking real gameplay. Within the tennis ball lies a sophisticated system of sensors that meticulously measure the direction, speed, and spin of each shot.
This real-time data is then translated to the virtual world displayed on the screen. Strikeco’s integrated camera, powered by computer vision and AI, tracks players’ movements, providing insightful feedback on their techniques.
A Virtual Tennis Club: Compete Globally, Anytime, Anywhere
What sets Strikeco apart is its vision to create a global tennis community. Players can practice, compete, and engage with others worldwide, breaking the geographical barriers that often limit sports enthusiasts.
Whether it’s a friendly match with friends in the neighborhood or a competitive game against players across the globe, Strikeco’s platform brings people together through a shared love for tennis. In addition to its gaming features, Strikeco is also pioneering the development of the world’s first AI tennis coach.
The system analyzes players’ techniques using the built-in camera, offering personalized guidance and tailored training programs. This real-time feedback loop ensures continuous improvement and a more engaging learning experience.
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The Road to Market: A Strategic Approach
Strikeco’s journey to market differs significantly from conventional startups. Ori Levy, drawing on his wealth of entrepreneurial experience, understood the importance of timing and strategic unveiling.
By keeping the product under wraps until it was ready for prime time, Strikeco managed to avoid the pitfalls of premature exposure that often plague early-stage startups.
The decision to showcase Strikeco during a road trip across the United States proved to be a masterstroke. The positive reception from tennis academies and enthusiasts affirmed that Strikeco was not only ready for the market but poised to make a significant impact.
Strikeco’s Vision for the Future
As Strikeco prepares to launch its innovative tennis platform to the public, Ori Levy envisions a future where Strikeco becomes synonymous with tennis training globally.
The platform’s potential to cater to different age groups and skill levels makes it a versatile tool for families, communities, and tennis enthusiasts of all kinds.
Strikeco’s impact extends beyond the confines of the tennis court, bridging the gap between physical activity, technology, and community engagement.
With plans to launch in the coming year, Strikeco is set to redefine the way people approach tennis, making it more accessible, enjoyable, and connected than ever before.
Ori Levy’s Entrepreneurial Wisdom: Lessons from the Journey
Ori Levy’s experiences, from the early days of Trendum to the present innovation with Strikeco, offer valuable insights for aspiring entrepreneurs. The importance of timing, persistence, and a visionary approach underscores Ori’s entrepreneurial wisdom.
As Strikeco prepares to revolutionize tennis training, Ori’s story continues to inspire and exemplify the transformative power of visionary thinking in the ever-evolving landscape of startups.
The evolution of Strikeco encapsulates Ori Levy’s unwavering commitment to innovation and his ability to adapt to the dynamic nature of entrepreneurship.
As the world eagerly awaits the launch of Strikeco, Ori’s journey serves as a testament to the endless possibilities that emerge when passion, experience, and vision converge in the realm of startups.
Listen to the full podcast episode to know more, including:
- Strikeco’s inception was fueled by a shared passion for tennis between Ori Levy and Yoni Willand. True innovation often arises when personal interests align with a vision for change.
- Strikeco transcends geographical barriers, aiming to create a global community of tennis enthusiasts. The platform fosters connections, allowing players to engage, practice, and compete with others worldwide.
- Strikeco’s unique approach integrates hardware and software seamlessly. The tennis simulator, akin to a Peloton for tennis, combines real-world racket play with virtual tracking, offering a holistic training experience.
- The incorporation of sensors and AI enables a real-time feedback loop. Players receive immediate insights into their technique, creating an ongoing learning process and enhancing the overall training experience.
- The strategic decision to keep Strikeco under wraps until it was market-ready showcases the importance of timing in the startup journey. Avoiding premature exposure allowed for a more impactful entry into the market.
- Strikeco’s vision extends beyond professional players, catering to different age groups and skill levels. It transforms tennis into a family and community activity, making it accessible and enjoyable for everyone.
- Ori Levy’s journey from Trendum to Strikeco imparts crucial entrepreneurial wisdom. Persistence, visionary thinking, and adaptability are key elements that underpin successful ventures in the dynamic startup landscape.