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October 6, 2014
Next 2014

Dan Kerluke skates his sports analytics startup into NHL territory

PHOTo / Amber Waterman
PHOTo / Amber Waterman

Dan Kerluke

CEO and co-founder Double Blue Sports Analytics, Orono

Double Blue Sports Analytics

20 Godfrey Dr., Orono

CEO and co-founder: Dan Kerluke

Founded: 2012

Business: Sports analytics software

Employees: 5

Contact: 221-6965

www.doublebluesports.com

Like any entrepreneur, Dan Kerluke knew there was going to be a point when he had to jump off the deep end and dive into the exciting and equally scary world of running his own startup — especially knowing that his company's hockey goaltending analytics app was unlike anything else on the market, and that it would only be the beginning of what could become a burgeoning digital sports business.

Last summer, Kerluke did just that, leaving behind his role as associate head coach for the Division I hockey team at the University of Maine — a place he had called home after eight years of coaching and four years of playing as a student. It's a lifestyle he says he will miss, but his departure has opened a new door and a new set of challenges.

"I wasn't quite prepared for how difficult running the startup is," says Kerluke, CEO and co-founder of Double Blue Sports Analytics. "This is definitely a level up in many different facets. Everything you pour into it is your life."

But after a little less than a year of running as a full-time venture, Double Blue has created apps for the Apple iPad that are sophisticated in design but simple in presentation, like many popular mobile apps in what has been projected to become a $25 billion market this year. The company's 360 Save Review System has already earned praise from one NHL.com writer and professional goalies for the Tampa Bay Lightning and St. Louis Blues.

Even before Double Blue enters its first season of heavily marketing the app this fall, the company already has signed up nearly 40 customers, including the Dallas Stars and potentially the Pittsburgh Penguins, and has been in discussions with several other NHL teams, Kerluke says. To top it off, the company is finishing work on its Remote Coaching system that directly links with the goaltending app. It also just launched the beta version of its 360 Team Review System — what Kerluke says will eventually become Double Blue's breadwinner once it hits market next year.

Needless to say, it's been an eventful year.

"Sometimes it's hard to take a step back and realize what we've actually accomplished, but when you take a step back and realize it, we created the most advanced goalie platform on the planet in six months," Kerluke says.

Capturing a story

The idea for the 360 Save Review System came from Kerluke and fellow Double Blue co-founder David Alexander, who was a UMaine goalie coach when they met and is currently not involved in day-to-day operations. Kerluke recalls that during a game in March 2012, Alexander was doing his usual "analytical gymnastics," recording video footage of a goalie with one hand and jotting down notes with the other — when suddenly a fan yelled down from the crowd: "There has to be an app for that!"

"And that was the seed of the conversation that started the dialogue," Kerluke says.

The 360 Team Review System replaces what has been an inefficient and painstaking process for Alexander and other goalie coaches, Kerluke says, and it does that by giving the coaches a simple interface that allows them to track the actions of the goalie, play-by-play, and then review the goalie in an aggregated data set that compiles plays and associated video clips, captured by remote cameras, from every recorded game — a process Kerluke calls "capturing a story of the performance" and one that has never been available before.

"What our guys have done underneath this is very, very complicated, but it's important that it's very simple on the top, very simple to understand, very simple to use," Kerluke says of the app that was designed by the company's chief technology officer, Tim Westbaker, another co-founder.

A piece of the technology

Double Blue has raised $450,000 to date, including a recently issued $175,000 development loan from the Maine Technology Institute that will allow the company to focus more development time on its Team System app. But to truly expand, Kerluke says, the company requires more investment.

Kerluke says that even in Double Blue's early stages, the company's apps and online systems have already attracted a lot of interest, including from large broadcasting networks like the NHL Network, which used the 360 Save Review System on live television during the Stanley Cup finals earlier this year. And on top of that, Kerluke says, he has already begun exploring an expansion into other sports and adopting wearable technology.

"The hard thing for us is everyone wants a piece of the technology, whether it be for broadcasting, fitness and training or scouting," Kerluke says. "It's a great problem to have and the struggle for us is trying to focus on what are the key areas we want to push and focus on so we can monetize that component of the business."

It's a great problem, indeed.

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